Is Something Bad Going to Happen?

*I am on vacation and so this is a repost from a blog during the early stages of the Syrian refugee crisis. It is sadly still relevant.

Is something bad going to happen tomorrow?

I mean, is something really bad going to happen tomorrow?

Yes.

I guarantee it.

Maybe not to you. Maybe not where you live. But yes, something really bad is going to happen tomorrow.

Disaster

Sometimes I catch an undercurrent of fear among Christians, a sense that the world might be careening toward the ‘End Times’, an anxiety about the future, and a worry that something might go terribly wrong. If not today, then tomorrow, or next month. (I’m not the only one, Marilynne Robinson wrote about it here)

Guess what?

Something horribly wrong already happened today.

Dead civilians and dead police officers, national holidays turned into massacres, coup attempts…If toddlers washed up, dead, on the beach isn’t horrible enough, how about swordsmen at Swedish schools, shootings on Tennessee campuses, bombs in Turkey, Syrians slaughtered, raped, imprisoned, enslaved? How about Yemenis enduring endless violence and mostly ignored by the global community?

How about girls abducted from school and forced into ‘marriages’ that are really sexual bondage? How about children going to bed hungry and kids with Downs Syndrome chained to bedposts? How about friends with cancer and spouses who cheat and lost jobs? How about corruption and injustice and greed and selfishness? How about a lack of clean drinking water and little respect for our planet?

The world is broken. There is horror and pain and suffering and grief and the only people with the audacity to wonder, ‘will something horrible happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month?’ are those who refuse to look outside their own lives. The ones who are unable to see that something horrible is already happening. The ones who are protected from global terror and famine and war and disease or from personal devastation and loss. Or who think they are because they have built up the false security of defenses and distance.

Something horrible is happening. Right now. In our world. This world. The one we live in and share and are responsible for.

The question can’t be: Is something bad going to happen?

The questions need to be:

When something bad happens somewhere else, what am I (you) going to do about it?

And when something bad happens to me (you), how am I (you) going to respond?

Are we going to be relieved that it isn’t our toddler washed up, dead, and then change the channel?

Are we going to build bigger bank accounts and buy more iPhones and plan ever more luxurious vacations?

Are we going to thank God for his miraculous provision of a parking spot while refusing to even ask the question of why he hasn’t miraculously provided breast milk from the sawed-off breasts of mothers in Sudan so they don’t have to watch their infants starve to death in their laps?

Or are we going to sell all we have and follow Jesus? Jesus who went to the uncomfortable place of shame and death on the cross? Jesus who went outside the cultural norms and touched sick people, dignified the sexually broken and abused, and who brought food to the masses, who welcomed the alien, stranger, and outcast?

How much worse does this world need to be for people to take notice?

It is time to look up from our places of comfort and see that something awful is already happening in the world.

It is time to ask, what are we going to do about it?

For people who live far away from disaster (for now), instead of being afraid of the what-if scenarios of some doomsday forecast, start loving people. Pray for enemies, bless those who persecute. Make choices with your time, money, votes, attitudes, and possessions that are loving toward people.

For those who live closer to disaster (for now), instead of being afraid of what is on the doorstep, love people. Pray for enemies, bless those who persecute. Make choices with time, money, votes, attitudes, and possessions that are loving toward people.

The world is broken and is probably only going to get more broken. God is in the business of redemption, not just of our souls but of our bodies and our planet. Fixing the brokenness is not our job, I will leave that up to the One who is more than able. But loving people and not being afraid or paranoid or isolated is the role I believe God is calling his people to, as part of the redeeming work.

Something bad has already happened. What are you going to do, now?

Here are some books and articles filled with ideas for what you can do:

5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church

Syrian Crisis: Christians Cannot Stand and Do Nothing

Pondering Privilege, a book by Jody Fernando about race and faith

Save

Wounds

As a nurse I have had to care for wounds many times. There is an art to it. Because wounds, if not properly cared for, don’t heal. And that is why I love this post by Anisha Hopkins so much. Her words are honest and true; they go past pain into healing. Take a few moments of your day to read these words on wounds. You can read more about Anisha at the end of the piece.

wounds

Wounds
by Anisha Hopkinson
5 Sept 2014

In the early morning hours, stumbling and with bloodshot eyes, he returned back to our ministry base. Only I, the night duty receptionist, had seen him. The next evening I watched him leave again and shoved back down the knowing that this just wasn’t right.

The phone rang and the stern voice on the other end scolded, “You call yourselves Christians! I’ve seen one of your missionaries around town buying drugs. You should be ashamed!” I couldn’t bury the deep down knowing any longer. A few hours later bloodshot eyes returned and it was clear what needed to be done. I had to tell someone.

The days after the telling were terribly wounding. The leadership didn’t believe me because how could this possibly be true? He was a good Christian man. Sure he’d had struggles long ago, but was reformed now. This was part of his testimony. The leadership called his family back home and even they insisted on it. My 19-year-old credibility questioned. Trusted relationships broken. It wasn’t many months later that my contract finished with the ministry and although I moved countries the wounds remained.

Christian ministry, Christian relationships, are not immune from wounding. I had been young and awfully naïve to think so.

In the years since I’ve witnessed friends also wounded in ministry. For some the wounds healed into maturity, for others they left an ugly scar of bitterness.

Having been wounded and eventually mended there are five ways I’ve learned to take care of my heart in the painful place.

Let go of my offense at being wounded.
Yes it hurts, but piling offense on top of the wound does nothing towards healing. Offense masks the real issue and muddies the water in reconciliation. Instead of choosing offense I can choose to identify my real feelings. This happened and it hurts because…

Remember why I am in this relationship in the first place.
We all love to share stories of how we ended up ministering in such and such a place. We joyfully tell of when we first felt God’s leading and the many challenges miraculously overcome. These testimonies of God’s leading are no less real after the wounding. Even in pain I can honor the relationship because I remember the bigger picture.

Seek counsel.
Godly, wise counsel. Not only for the sake of guidance for my own actions, but because those that have been wounded and healed before often bring a completely new perspective. The right counselor will lift my eyes away from my own hurt to see the fuller story.

Confess.
I may be wounded, but have I sinned in my sorrow? Have I lost my temper? Spouted off regretful words? Made decisions in haste? Back up and examine my own heart. Where have I sinned?

Let go.
Ultimately, the situation may never be resolved the way I feel it should. Even though it may take time, I can choose to let go of the pain of being wronged. I can choose to let go of my desire for justification.

In the aftermath of a wounding we have a choice. Tend to our hearts or let bitterness scar us.

I still think about blood-shot eyes. Mostly I wonder if he ever found freedom from his secret chains. I will probably never know and that’s ok. Although the wound cut deeply, it healed deeply too.


Have you been wounded in ministry? How did you heal? How would you encourage others who are experiencing the pain now?

Anisha is a missionary wife and mom living life smack in the middle of culture shock. Having recently arrived to her new tropical island home of Papua, Indonesia she spends most days trying to figure out how to cook in metric, practicing new Indonesian phrases, and attempting to communicate through smiles and embarrassing hand motions when words
fail. Anisha blogs about cross-cultural living and loving Jesus on namasayamommy.blogspot.com

Picture Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/graveyard-sculpture-woman-cemetery-523110/

The Shame of AIDS

One of the leading issues in many of the nations we live and work in is HIV/AIDS.

The statistics from South Africa on this issue are shocking.  Conservative estimates place infection rates at 10% of the nation, or over 5 million cases.

You would assume with these facts, the signs of this disease would be everywhere. Only they are not.

The shame of this disease hides it from the public eye, keeping it as a private issue. It is illegal to ask someone their status. The numbers alone make it a reality that many we work with will have this disease, but often we do not know this as a fact. In my eight years in this nation, I have met two which have declared their status or confided in me. A young South African man who grew up in the impoverished townships says he too only knows of two.

By: Anthony Easton
By: Anthony Easton

Two people! Many others hide alone in shame.

That number increased to three recently.

I met Musa Njoko.  She was well-known for her gospel music, but now her fame comes from her Aids activism. She has shared the stage with President Bill Clinton promoting awareness.

As she told her story, several things stood out to me.

Her courage As secretive as this disease is today, when she came out it was an isolation sentence. She dealt with this through her faith in God and her sense of humor.

Musa related the story of swimming at a public pool. As her and her family were enjoying the water, she noticed the pool was quickly emptying for fear of “catching” the disease. She joked, “well family we have the whole pool to ourselves! ”

Her recognition of progress – South Africa has come a long way in HIV treatment. Leaders in the past declared the disease a myth or a creation of the West. They advocated going to traditional healers (witch doctors) or taking vitamin B12. The former head of the AIDS commission willingly had unprotected sex with an infected woman, feeling safe because he showered afterwards. This man is the current president of South Africa! There was even a myth circulating which said the remedy was sleeping with a virgin. This only made things worse.

Today anti retroviral drugs are available for free.

Her faith in the future Musa says South Africa has one of the best prevention programs in the world now. As she still lives in one of the most vulnerable communities, She sees change.

My prayer for South Africa is for a greater openness. Unfortunately, the people who hurt Musa the most were in the church. They called her a slut and a whore. I would love to see more people like Musa, declare their status. But, more than the infected coming out, I would like to see less affliction. The church must change their mindset.

From what we see of Jesus, the HIV positive people are exactly those he would spend time with. They may be similar to the lepers in our midst today whom Jesus loved.

Do we?

What about your nation? How is progress being made on this global epidemic? What is the attitude of the church towards those infected in your country of service?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes