Peace in the Storm
Warm greetings and a great big Latin hug! I know that we’re being told to keep our distance, but it’s a virtual hug, so I feel like we can express it without worry.
As you know, countries around the world, including ours, have been closing their borders in an effort to stem the spread and effects of the CoVid-19 virus. Airlines are canceling flights, schools are closed, friends are stranded away from home, businesses are struggling and people are anxious and stressed. It’s hard to find peace in the midst of a storm.
t’s clear that the disciples of Jesus felt that way when they experienced their boat sinking and could do nothing to stop it (Luke 8:23-27). I’ve been on the ocean in rough weather before and I know how the wind and waves can humble a person in a storm when you have no control. Storms test our character and grow our faith.
The disciples finally called out to Jesus. He spoke and calmed the waves and the wind. Jesus brought peace in the midst of an otherwise uncontrollable storm. Hear his words to the disciples in John 14:27 and 16:33, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“ “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
As we face the new realities of altered plans, may we be encouraged by the lessons learned by the apostle Paul and his missionary team. In Acts chapter 16 we read about the Spirit of God adjusting the plans of Paul, Timothy, Silas. They had planned to travel to Asia to proclaim the Gospel, but God’s Spirit did not allow them to enter….. so, they passed by Bithynia and went on to Troas where they received new direction from the Lord. Sometimes, God adjusts our plans and there are a couple of key principles that we can learn from Paul and his team when He does.
- They were attentive to God’s Spirit leading. (So should we be.)
- They obeyed and did not go as they had originally planned. (We too must adjust our plans as needed in obedience to God’s leading.)
- They did not just stop everything however, but kept on going. (We need to keep at the work and ministries that God allows us to do.)
- They kept listening to the Lord and eventually received new directions and obeyed. (We must stay attentive to the Lord in these days and be responsive to the new opportunities that He calls us to, here, near and far.)
- As the team obeyed God, they saw fruitfulness as Lydia came to faith in Christ. (Let’s expect fruitfulness out of our faithfulness to God and His leading.)
For Shepherds’ Support, obediently pursuing God’s leading in the midst of uncertainty means postponing certain trips, preparing to go on others as we are able, and responding to God’s promptings to engage our neighbors here at home in conversations about Jesus. At this point, we have had to postpone our ministry trip to Peru and possibly to Cuba as well. We are still hoping to host the trainings in Armenia, Kenya and Georgia, but these are in the Lord’s hands and we will follow Him as He leads.
So What Can We Do?
Please continue to pray with us for believers around the globe as we face these storms together and shine the peace and hope that we have in Jesus to a broken and fearful world. Your prayers really do make a difference. A good friend encouraged me recently by reminding me, “Rick, all I can do is pray. So right now, prayer is enough.”
Here are some ways that you can be praying:
- Jonatan from Cuba: I was talking to pastors this morning. The situation is very difficult. The pastors are more concerned about the lack of food and medicine than about the coronavirus. They expect harder times. We pray that the Cuban church can be an instrument of blessing and that they can share the gospel in midst this situation.
- Pastor Chris from Zambia: Pray that couples will rise to the occasion and instill hope in many people living in fear and that the economy will not be so affected to where there will be no food on the tables of people.
- For Pastors, church Leaders and Shepherds’ Support: Pray with us for God’s wisdom in adjusting plans according to His will and timing, and that we would be effective witnesses for Christ here, near and far.
We’ll be sharing more prayer requests from our international partners in the weeks to come. You can also read some of them on our Facebook page.
As these days call for us to act with an “abundance of caution,” may our lives also be characterized by an “abundance of faith.” Jesus really does change everything!
Grace to you and peace from God our Father,
And the Shepherds’ Support Board:
Steve and Connie Troxel
David and Beth Butler
Jack and Nancy Shirley
Sid and Zane Williams
Daniel and Kate Wurzberg