Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Extreme Faith

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Nehemiah 4, 5, 6

Nehemiah 6:15-16 (NIV)
15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Ecclesiates 3:11 (NIV)
11 He has made everything beautiful in His time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Good morning!

Yesterday morning, I listened with great interest to the words and teaching of Rev. Zefanias Chulume, a United Methodist pastor from the country of Mozambique. He came to the Missouri Area Conference of the United Methodist Church to bring greetings from his United Methodist Churches in Mozambique, and to tell us how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading throughout their land. He reminded our delegation that we must completely rely upon the Holy Word of God as contained in scripture to learn and understand God's will for each of our lives.

In Mozambique, class meetings occur in the homes of its church members. As a class begins to outgrow the space within each home, they break off into new groups. This is a requirement of every class meeting. The same principle is applied to every United Methodist Church and the districts where the churches are located. Pastor Chulume suggests that the rapid growth of United Methodist Christians in Mozambique is due to their intentional aggressive hospitality, love and empathy for all people, extreme giving, and joyful worship. He said, “What if our hospitality became so great that we would be recognized as Christians solely because of our acts of human kindness?”

The people of Mozambique struggle to survive. Many die every day due to the spread of disease, unclean water, and lack of basic human needs. These people live in extreme poverty; yet, they understand what it means to be extreme givers. When visitors are welcomed into homes, they are fed first. If the food runs out, the children do not eat. Little ones often ask their parents, “Why do you bring strangers into our home and share our food with them when we barely have enough for ourselves?” Their mother’s reply is simple. “I know you have had food today, but I do not know if or when our guest has last eaten.” Can you imagine being so concerned about whether a stranger in your midst has had a meal that you might choose not to feed your own children so the stranger in your midst may eat?

Their churches continue to grow at a rapid pace, because the people of Mozambique have found that the Lord Jesus Christ is bigger than their greatest need. Pastor Chulume said, “We believe that the gift of abundant life is eternal and even in the midst of our disasters and death, we have a faith that we can rejoice in; the suffering of the present day will not even begin to compare to the glory to come.”

I could have listened to this pastor speak all day long. His congregation participates in holy worship for hours, while he teaches the Word of God to them. I have never struggled the way my brothers and sisters in Mozambique have. I do not know what it is like to not have food to eat each day or clean water to drink. When I become ill, I am able to seek immediate medical attention. When they become ill, many of them die. To have a faith that overcomes even the greatest of need is a gift that only comes from the Lord. The people of Mozambique are waiting for the Lord’s perfect timing in all things. Please join with me in prayer for our brothers and sisters around the world. Pastor Chulume assures us that his congregations are praying for you and me.

When we place our total trust in God, He helps us to accomplish what seems to be impossible. Faith grows in adverse situations. You and I can make a difference in the life of someone we may never meet face to face. Are you willing to trust in God’s perfect timing? Will you take on a piece of the impossible today, knowing Jesus Christ can make all things beautiful in His time? Let us lift our hands and hearts toward our brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive in the country of Mozambique.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: the people of Mozambique, who have so little yet give so much. May they find comfort in strength in the Lord Jesus Christ today. Would you be willing to give up a meal so they could eat? Would you provide the materials and resources needed to help the people build wells for clean water to drink? Extreme faith is borne from extreme need. Are you willing to give sacrificially, show extreme hospitality in the worst of situations? We can learn a lot from the life example of our brothers and sisters in Mozambique.
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