Monday, January 18, 2010

The mission of hope

Today’s Reading: Acts 13:13 NIV

From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where [John Mark] left them to return to Jerusalem.

Good morning!

It is difficult to fully grasp the devastation that occurred after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country of Haiti last week. We hear eyewitness accounts from reporters filming the disaster; we see indescribable pictures printed on the front pages of our newspapers. The only thing we may not fully comprehend is the stench of death that permeates the air. The death toll continues to rise exponentially. Thousands died instantly, while just as many, if not more, endured the terror of being buried alive. Family members are digging with their bare hands, trying to save and free their children, parents, and friends. Many have lost family members who they may never be identified in the rubble. Several United Methodist missionaries and mission teams were working in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Some have already passed away from injuries sustained when the buildings collapsed. They were an integral part of our family of faith, and we grieve their loss and pray for the ones who are missing them dearly today.

The humanitarian need in this country is greater than ever before. I was caught up in an online news article, which was filmed as survivors gathered together to pray, seeking God’s help for the monumental task of rebuilding. We know there is so much more here than the rebuilding of homes, re-establishing a clean water source, food for all, and providing medical necessities for those in need. Who will bring hope to the hopeless? Would you be willing to hold a hurting child in your arms, offer comfort to a grieving widow, or take the hand of an elderly man whose only family has seemingly disappeared?

There is no doubt in my mind that this missionary journey will be hard. From Scripture, we are not completely clear as to why John Mark left Paul and Barnabas, returning home to Jerusalem. Some scholars speculate that he may have become homesick or simply frustrated with his traveling companions. It is certainly possible that John Mark became physically ill, and, in an attempt to protect the others from catching his disease, he willingly went home. Spreading the Gospel message in places where no one had heard of Jesus prior to their arrival had to be an overwhelming adventure for three new missionaries. Will seeds of faith planted along the way spring up from the dry, cracked soil, taking root and flourishing in the everlasting light of His love?

In the upcoming months, many volunteers from around the world will leave the comfort of their own homes to travel to Haiti, hoping to make a lasting difference for another human heart. Many will support mission teams with charitable donations of money and supplies for all the laborers who are working in the field. All of us can pray for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to fill Haiti, for the everlasting light of Christ is the hope of the world.

Jesus called his followers to go and make disciples of all nations. May our own lives reflect the love we profess, as we reach around the world, offering His hope and help to our sister country in great need.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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