ReDiscovering Lent-April 16

April_1616 April – Deborah Dortzbach, Global Health Director – DONE!

Revelations 21:1-6

Handed-in. Complete. Not-to-be-redone. Restored.

What words come to your mind when you think of something being “done”? How often do you feel you have actually completed something?

I often struggle with finishing things. I have great ideas and start projects but finishing them is my downfall. Worst of all, I often feel like my life is one big improvement project that’s never done.

Our ministries—in our homes, our places of work, our churches—wherever God calls us to serve Him, are arenas where we may feel the work is never finished. About the time we get through one event or discover a place of contentment where God is powerful in changing us, something else crops up. Attention may be diverted, discouragement sets in, and accomplishments are forgotten. What’s really getting done and is it getting done for good?

The answer lies in the “trustworthy and true” statement given to John as the Holy Spirit inspired him to record Revelation. The meaning of completion is embedded in the work of Christ. This passage refers to Christ, who said on the cross as He fulfilled the sacrifice for the sins of the world, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

What difference does it make in my daily life if I believe by faith that Christ made that ultimate sacrifice for me and completed the work that restored my relationship to God?

Basically, we are to keep on going. Christ already won. Nothing can stop us. The plan is big, bold, adventureous, and, yes, grueling. No doubt about that. We are called to bear a cross.

Ruth Kasuki was a Kenyan school teacher infected with the HIV virus by her husband in the 1990s. Stigmatized by family and church alike, she struggled to understand the meaning of suffering in her life. Likely, she never fully understood why she suffered so much—not only with the realities of the physical pain but the emotional rejection related to having AIDS. On her death bed she weakly but clearly declared her “trustworthy and true” statement to family and friends gathered around her. I was honored to be among them.

“I’m not afraid of death. For… for me… to live is Christ… and to die… is gain.”

Well done, Ruth. Christ’s death and resurrection has redeemed the world and will one day bring the end of human suffering!

ReDiscovering Lent-April 15

April_1515 April – JP Ndagijimana, Country Director, World Relief Kenya – Mission Accomplished

Revelation 7:9

What does God suffering do for God’s mission? The death and resurrection of Jesus has redeemed all nations, reversing the course at Babel and fulfilling God’s mission as given to Abraham.

Genesis 11:8 tells us that the Lord scattered those trying to build the tower of Babel across the face of the earth and Revelation 7:9 tells us of the reverse, wherein a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, stood before the throne and before the lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

Jesus’ death has removed walls of separation. Isaiah tells us that by his stripes, our wounds, whether historic, physical, or emotional are healed. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where people mistreat, oppress, and kill one another for no other reason than the difference of tribe, religion, or way of thinking. In circumstances like these, Jesus would turn to his disciples and say, “…not so with you.”

We will stand before the throne and before the lamb one day. Will we be among the multitude in white robes that have been washed clean from every sin by the blood of the Lamb? Will we hold palm branches, ready to be God’s instruments of love and peace in a world that is full of conflicts?

ReDiscovering Lent-April 14

April_1414 April – Rhona Murungi, Program Officer, East Africa Great Lakes Region

Luke 19:28-44

The Lord riding down a mountain into Jerusalem as a King of Israel in the presence of jubilant crowds was a historic moment, a fulfilment of several Old Testament prophesies. Zachariah had predicted this; “humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey,” (Zechariah 9:9). Many of the messianic shouts came from crowds that had witnessed the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 12: 17-18). The two incidents that follow then, the crying out of the stones and the weeping of the Lord Jesus are a paradox given a jubilant and celebratory backdrop.

In response to Pharisees that demanded that Jesus rebuke those that were joyfully praising God, Jesus replies, “I tell you…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Stones, of all things, are not made for crying out. Is it a wonder then that when those called to praise God and proclaim his truths keep silent, that those who by nature are not positioned to carry out this task would be raised up to do it. I wonder; should today’s Church be silent on the truths important to God and humanity, that those not called or equipped to speak out and be God’s vessels would pick up the slack. I wonder very much, at what the implications for and to a silent and reticent Church are.

Jesus cries over the holy city because He is not willing for any to perish. It is a proof of Jesus’ human nature, that He too was prone to the afflictions of human emotion and that He would care so deeply for a city and a people on the brink of destruction because they did not pay heed to the time of God’s coming. What in our cities today make Jesus weep? Is it too late to pay heed to his cries? Or do we burrow our heads in the sand and wait for stones to do it for us?