A woman put her hand on a world map and asked God to show her a town she should pray for. She was led to pray for a town in Iran. After praying for that town for thirty years, an Iranian pastor came to her church. He testified to the great things God had been doing in his town in Iran.
No pastor or lay leader I’ve spoken to recently believes that the church will ever return to the way it used to be. The anxious rumbling is now similar to that of the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea: “Well, where to from here?” This sentiment is often laced with a mixture of uncertainty, fear and doubt.
We’ve lived (are living) through a once-in-a-century (we hope) pandemic and warred over masks and mandates. Many, many churches have seen people leave one fellowship for another. Christians increasingly congregate around narrowing views and opinions. Theologies – even relationships – are tested by whether they are on the political left or right.
“The very fact that our people, especially as a church, has had that experience in their background. That they understand what it means to be a refugee. What it means to be resettled. What it means to pick up on a new life. But even more so the terror and the upheavals which was the reason for them leaving their home country. It’s something that has to be part of our giving back. A reason for a response.”
What I know depends upon who I know. But knowing another person (as you may have experienced with a friend or spouse) is never simple. Humans change. They grow. They’re inconsistent. And their knowing—however trustworthy they may be—is, like mine, subject to the limits of human sin, bias and finiteness. Leaving it all like a web: beautiful, delicate and tenuous.
Kora is passionate about encouraging other believers to engage their neighbours who come from different cultures around the world. She hopes that they will be more adventurous in trying different foods and communicating across language barriers. “Ask your neighbors about their festivals,” she pleads, “and learn about their values, their worldview, so you can effectively communicate the Gospel in a language they will understand.”
How is the gospel advanced? By passionate and capable ambassadors of Christ? Yes. Through a clear proclamation of the gospel? Yes. By demonstrations of love and miracles? Yes. With good strategy and robust financial resources? Yes. But how is the gospel best advanced? Hailey, this devoted and humble saint from the church I once pastored, claimed it was upon our knees, praying.
Why does Christ have to die for the sins of humanity? What does he save us from? This may seem like a trite question, but throughout history, powerful forces have sought to trivialize the answer. And our generation is no exception. The Gospel of Matthew offers a profound insight into this question.
We don’t often associate this message with Christmas. I have yet to read or even write a Christmas story that includes it. It doesn’t seem to fit. John’s message and ministry as a whole don’t seem to fit. And yet, when our four chief storytellers set out to tell us the Christmas story in the most basic of terms, they each include John’s message and ministry.