Destruction Hearts

Somewhere on this big planet that we live on, there is tragedy that happens every second of every day. Since we’ve been here at training, we’ve observed from a distance things such as bombings at marathons and tornadoes that wipe out homes and rip through hearts. I’ll never forget looking up videos after the Boston bombing and observing what happened immediately following the tragedy. People flocked to help. There were policemen and regular civilians who just dropped what they were doing and ran over to the victims to see what could be done. Fences were torn down and any obstacle was removed through sheer determination of the one going to rescue. No one knew if there were more bombs or if their very own lives were in jeopardy. They saw a problem, realized that they could be part of the solution, and took action. And what did we do as a nation? We praised them and called them heroes, which is exactly what they were.

Then came the Oklahoma tornadoes. Homes were flattened and lives were taken. The images of the destruction that I see on the internet are devastating and shocking. People from all over have relentlessly given of themselves for the sake of others. People are there, sifting through rubble and seeking what can be salvaged. People are giving money and people are physically going directly to the hurting and doing whatever they can to help. Again, those who help are seen as heroes. And they are heroes. They are selflessly loving and serving others who are in need.

But what about the destruction that is going on like this all over the world in places that are war-torn and impoverished. Places where people just like me and like many of you – people who love Jesus and possess the treasure of the Gospel – will not go. Landmines go off and children are blown up, but we aren’t seeing people rushing to help, tearing down any obstacle to respond to the cries of the hurting. Rushing to scoop up the broken ones who will live and die in poverty and will never have one person look them in the eyes and tell them that Jesus loves them and that there is always hope. Tell them that they are worth everything. That they are worth dying for….Jesus thought so.

I heard stories from one of my heroes last week. Nik Ripken, the author of The Insanity of God, was brought in to teach us. He and his wife were here for a couple days to share about the persecuted church, and to prepare us for all that we might see on the mission field. He spoke of extreme poverty and destruction. He spoke of martyrdom and the joy of seeing Jesus in the midst of the least of these. He spoke from the very experiences he and his wife have lived through…

They would bury 20 babies a day

It was 6 months before they had ever met a women who hadn’t been sexually abused

People they helped and served threw rocks and human waste at them. After they gave food to people and left, people got mutilated and raped because they took the food before the authorities got it, and so the people learned not to take food from the missionaries

Usually, people driving cars had killed the previous owner and taken the vehicle to be their own

There were only 4 of the 150 believers that they knew of still alive when they left the country. The rest had been murdered.

As I listened to their stories, I simultaneously watched through social media as countless people helped with the destruction in Oklahoma and were praised for it. I am so thankful that they Church is coming together to serve and love those that are hurting in Oklahoma, but I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast in the reaction of the general population to those that were helping in Oklahoma and those who are serving in the hard places in the world for the sake of the Gospel. They were praised. They were encouraged. They were built up. People quickly gave their own possessions for those who lost it all in the tornado. The president of the United States even showed up to see what was going on.

Sigh. Perhaps it’s because the skin of my hands has held a child with AIDS who lives in a dump and eats garbage, but for whatever reason, the Lord has awakened my heart and opened my eyes to the Oklahoma-like destruction that happens everyday and goes unnoticed. Or worse yet, it is noticed and is quickly brushed under the rug. When I talk about wanting to go to the hard places to rescue the desperate, people look at me like I am crazy. I’ve heard it it all…..

“You shouldn’t go there, it’s dangerous.”

“You have children to think about”

“That’s great that you want to go there, but I could never do that”

“It’s too risky. You’re insane to put your life at risk”

But why the double standard? Perhaps it’s the false sense of security that so many have while their feet stand on American soil? Perhaps is fear that God isn’t big enough to protect them? Maybe it’s denial that sometimes God allows people to suffer and die so the Gospel will spread and churches will explode? Maybe it’s just because they don’t fully understand that life is a vapor – here today and gone tomorrow. What are we waiting for? Why are we wasting our lives when there is so much more we could do?

For me, it’s easy to see a picture or video of a young child who lives in the destruction of an impoverished world, and feel so much compassion that I’m moved to action. But what about the “bad guys” who abuse women and children in Islamic countries? God has been challenging me this week as I have been taught about the likely sexual harassment that will be in my future. In the country that we are moving to, it is likely that I will be pinched or grabbed in inappropriate places while in public. When my husband and I were first learning this, we were shocked and disheartened. As my mind tried to grapple with what it will really be like to live in a country that is 99% Muslim and therefore lost, my heart supernaturally softened as I thought “they are lost people. Expect them to act lost.” They don’t know the Holy Spirit and therefore I should not expect them to posses His Fruit : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control {Galatians 5:22}. God loves them just as much as He loves me. He sees them. He sees through the tough exterior and inappropriate actions straight to the wounded and desperate heart that is nothing but Oklahoma-like destruction. He sees past the turban and darker skin, and loves the man we as Americans would instantly hate. He desires that man to know Him and to be transformed by Him. But how will these hardened destruction-hearts know the Savior unless someone tells them? How will they be transformed unless people like me and people like you decided to respond to their Spirit-less actions with love and forgiveness.

What if the next Paul-like man is out there waiting to hear the Good News that will change his heart and subsequently the world that becomes his mission field? After all, Paul was the “chief of all sinners.”

“For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” -1 Corinthians 15:9

“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison.” -Acts 22:4

Sometimes it’s easy to read all the writings of Paul in the Bible and forget who he was prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. He didn’t just live a quiet life and try his best to do good – he was out to get Christians. He was persecuting people like you and people like me but Jesus changed him.

Not all of us are called at this time to move to a foreign country, but all of us can look around right where we are and see Oklahoma-like destruction hearts walking all around us. People who may look homeless or like they have all the money in the world – people who may look like they have it all together but on the inside are desperate to hear of the One who has the power to mend the brokenness that lives within them. I am challenged this week to notice the broken in the world and to go to them. To tear down any obstacle, put my life in the very hands of the One who created me, and to follow fearlessly wherever He may lead me to be His hands and feet.

LOVE IS ACTION

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,

“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.

Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” -Romans 12:9:21

Advertisements