Answering The Call is an international missions organization dedicated to reaching people in difficult to reach places.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Story of One

Rape in the Congo has been labeled as “the new weapon of waraccording to BBC News. The epidemic of such violent crimes against women is unprece-dented and the secretary general for humanitarian affairs for the United Nations says, “The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world.” CNN’S Cooper Anderson reports, “It’s the deadliest conflict since World War II.” In the last 10 years hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in the Congo.

Several years ago ATC took a team to D.R. Congo to hold a pastors conference and to minister to women who were victims of such violence. What they found astounded them. Expecting 35 or 40 women at the conference, they were surprised to find 200 women waiting for them. While in the city of Bukavu, the team also visited Panzi Hospital where 400 or so women land every month needing surgical repair due to the damages sustained during their attack. There was a warehouse behind the hospital filled with women who were waiting their turn for surgery. Among those 250 women was a beautiful little 4 year old girl who captured the hearts of the entire team. Her name was Julie. She was one of the many waiting for surgery.

The team arrived home committed to finding a way to bring her to America for the reconstructive surgeries she would need. After several months of planning, speaking with doctors and congressmen, arranging for passports, visas and airfare, Julie arrived. She was cared for by a couple who loved her like their own. After 9 months of medical care Julie had to return to her country. Those who loved her grieved at her departure. What would happen to her? Who would look after her, care for her and protect her? Would we ever see her again? What did God have in mind? These were only some of the questions.

The couple began to pray asking God for a miracle; a miracle that would bring her home. By this time Julie had returned to her village far into the bush. They contacted the pastor in Bukavu whom we work alongside seeking to know what the chances were of retrieving her and bringing her back. Our beloved Desire began putting things into motion. He went to great lengths to figure out how to get to her village. Would it even be possible to get in touch with the village chief to get permission to bring her back? His journey included a boat ride, a plane ride, bus rides, days without food and many nights just waiting for the next step. Desire spent seven weeks away from his family and responsibilities to journey across the fields, jungles and vast lands of Africa to rescue one little girl. He found her, retrieved her and brought her all the way to America to her new home.

This presents such a picture of what Jesus did for us. He left his homeland and came to foreign soil. He left comfort. He left His father. He left His glory. He went to great lengths, suffering adversity, persecution and even death to rescue us and bring us home. He scooped me up and carried me away far from the pit of despair, sin, and evil. He adopted me into his family taking me as his very own. He gave me new clothes to wear, a new home, a new life to live, and an inheritance worth more than all the money in the world. Just for me. And just for you!

This Friday we aren’t just having a concert to raise money for a shelter for women who are victims of rape. We go to honor God and celebrate the story of one! Come join us.


Friday, May 2, 2008

The Longest Journey on Earth

It has been said, and rightly so, perhaps the longest journey this side of heaven is the eighteen inches between our minds and our hearts. This is why Paul writes in Ephesians, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened...." Just prior to this he indicates that this kind of truth, truth that resides in the heart, comes only by way of divine revelation. I am learning truth that resides deep within the heart is what sets us free. Mere mental assent to something does not bring freedom.

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us in a place of dependence and this can be a bit uncomfortable. To a large extent I can control my mind as I engage in taking thoughts captive. While there is some truth to the heart following the mind, it is also true that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to change the heart. Faith that falls short of this comes perilously close to behavior modification; however, behavior modification was never the goal. Heart transformation is what it is all about. This is where I find myself lately. The Lord has been clear in pointing out the things I believe in my mind but have yet to embrace in my heart.

I journey this week to a place where the people have been lied to and hurt in some of the worst ways imaginable. It is possible they don’t even have head knowledge of the truth Paul speaks about. I do know that they have bought into the lie that they could secure their eternal salvation by slaughtering their neighbors and fellow tribesmen. They embraced this lie with passion, killing tens of thousands, ransacking villages and homes, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. As is often the case with lies we buy into, it comes back to reek similar havoc in our own lives. Those who convinced them of this new and glorious path to salvation have now become the targets. These people are no longer the hunters…they are the hunted.

There is a weapon that stands boldly in the face of a lie. It is all powerful and I have seen this weapon destroy a lie on many occasions. That weapon is not the United Nations peace keeping forces in Darfur. Nor is it the many well meaning NGO’s, (non-governmental organizations). The weapon is love. Simple! Well, not really.

To defeat such a formidable lie in Darfur will require a love that is almost, if not completely, unimaginable. Those who were once being slaughtered by these Darfurians, or at least a small group of their leaders, have embraced the way of forgiveness and love and are now determined to go share this love with their former attackers. I could not have imagined it but apparently the Holy Spirit did. He has experience in such things.

Can you see it? Big Love flying in the face of Big Lies. Next week, and for three weeks following, two teams will be traveling to meet with these pastors and evangelists to train them in story telling. They will learn the gospel in a story form that will communicate in their culture. Then we will go with them as far into Darfur as we can to communicate the greatest love story every told. I am not sure if we will be met with stones or applause. I am sure that if they embrace this love story in their hearts it will set them free from lies the enemy has sown to put them in the bondage that they now face, the fruit of which is their destruction, both temporal and eternal.

Will you join me in prayer for the Sudanese? Pray they will be set free through a divine revelation at the depths of Christ’s great love. I pray as Paul prayed in Ephesians, “I keep asking that God…give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation…that they may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith…they being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.”