A Devotion by D. Raborn on our Loving Shepherd page.
Bill Hybel’s quote “the local Church is the hope of the World” proves now more important than in past generations. Bill is the pastor of Willow Creek Church in South Barrington, IL and a visionary of spreading the Gospel.
I would acknowledge that while the local church is, indeed, the hope of the world, “woman start the engine and keep the wheels going”. (Amen) Through the calm, practical and clear approach of women, study groups are bustling, children are singing & learning, and creativity is inspiring future generations.
The circumstances of women determine the outcome of culture and society. If we were to look at the world nation by nation; those nations suppressing the creativity and abilities of women, thus suffocating the atmosphere of personal, religious and intellectual growth, we would see stagnation, dysfunction, and anxiety. A pervasive and consistent discontent is then fanned, allowing an underlying turmoil to simmer. This is never the natural state in our human condition. This is not what God planned.
From the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life come startling facts:
And, I quote: These reports have drawn widespread attention to the fact that a substantial portion of the world’s population – 75% as of mid-2010 – lives in countries where governments, social groups or individuals restrict people’s ability to freely practice their faith. 75%~
Break my Heart, Lord, for what breaks Yours~
Drs. Cindy and Paul went with their local church outreach from Georgia to help in the rebuilding of a specific area near Tuscaloosa, Alabama that had been devastated by the largest ‘single system’ tornado ever to be recorded. The aftermath needed a third world relief effort at the end of April 2011. Although much of the Southern, Mid-western and Northeastern United States was affected, Alabama took the brunt of this brutal weather system. I called to ask what we could do in Canada. “Oh”, my cousin replied, “they need soo much”. “Just give me a shopping list”, I said. I think every letter of the alphabet was used in this list, from applesauce to hammers to socks, to underwear and work gloves. Ed, our acreage neighbor who builds planes, brought over an airplane parts crate, which I kept on my verandah. I simply made a few calls to neighbors about the hurting people of Alabama and my shopping list. When I woke up the next morning, there was a full crate of supplies, letters from children, and basic necessities for a weather worn, tornado-toppled people.
Have you ever sent a crate to a rural, ravaged area 3000 miles away? I called agencies. I called international couriers and I called transport carriers. Not one would be able to help with the enormous cost of mailing. I finally decided that the more than $1200 needed to send the crate to our neighbors in the deep South was necessary for this worthy cause. ( Who needs to eat, eh? )
Purolator was chosen. I arrived without calling a half-hour before it closed, in an evening gown, and on the only afternoon of the year that the only supervisor from the head office in Ontario who happened to be the only person who knew about ‘specialized relief forms’ and who would fill them out for me so that I could go to an annual event in downtown Edmonton. The cost to me would be $69. “Would that be allright?”, she asked.
Therefore, I cannot say I was surprised when I heard in May that a Purolator courier, who my mother had ‘prayerfully engaged’, had been taking prayers for the past 5 months for our son, a stranger, back to his Church in Northeast Edmonton. These beautiful people from Zimbabwe have since taught me that “God is good…all the time” in a whole new way~
I am now praying for them. “God is good… all the time”.
So, what are practical and creative things that we, as women, can do to help God’s good and holy plan outside of the everyday nurturing and care we show to those in our world.
Prayerfully considering grander visions one step at a time. God will show us the way each according to our gifts, each according to our desires. He yearns to help us as He loves us. A love that has a holy plan.
Could three more minutes a day of prayer help a persecuted Christian God-knows-where, or a child fatigued by famine in far-away Ethiopia, Somalia, or who-knows-where, or a 60-pound teenager in The Dead City of Cairo, one of the world’s largest garbage dumps?
Or what about a letter to our brothers and sisters in Syria?
And from that war-torn country comes a letter from a pastor of a local Church, the hope of the world: Because of its passionate length, I will read a few short excerpts.
With love from Syria……..http://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/stories/syria_church_leader.php
My people are hurting.
It was much unexpected turmoil. Not even in our wildest dreams did we imagine the violence that is sweeping across the country now……….
………The Church is active in relief work, trying to reach the suffering with the love of Christ. It is our battle to be a church that upholds biblical values and keeps its spiritual focus where our communities are deeply divided along sectarian lines and severely polarized politically. Yet, counting on the Lord’s power by the Holy Spirit we know that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
We decided to adopt the motto of a Lebanese pastor who lived through the heat of the civil war in his country: Our loyalty is to Christ, Our submission is to the laws of the land, and Our love is to all. While we can see and sense the evil powers spreading a dark cloud over the country, closing the door for the light of hope, we still trust our all-sovereign God “who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.” We “see, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon His Church and his glory appears over it”.
We deeply appreciate the prayers of God’s people everywhere; it is a rare time where the Church in Syria is feeling the true oneness of the body of Christ all over the globe. For this, we thank the Lord, for it is a great encouragement to us.
1. For peace in the country and an end to the bloodshed. For God’s rich mercies on the suffering people.
2. For the safety and protection of the churches, keeping the church’s faithful witness.
3. Wisdom and vision for church leaders.
4. For the glory of the living God to dwell in the Church.
5. To empower the Church to reach out to the suffering, to share the divine cure of the gospel, and to speak the word of the Lord in all boldness.
6. That the evil powers of darkness will be defeated in our land.
7. That the values of false religion will be exposed for what they are and despised and rejected by many.
8. For many souls to come to know the love and forgiveness of Christ and to enjoy His saving grace.
9. That the Lord would send wise, God-fearing counselors to the decision-makers in all parties in the country.
For anyone who wants to send a letter of love and hope, please stop by and see me.
We, the Church, are, indeed, “the hope of the World”.
by D. Raborn, SDG