I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
Compassion is a hallmark of Christian discipleship and the sign of God’s care for us. I see human beings with the same struggles, concerns and worries. Compassion is reaching out to people in trouble and being with people who are in need. This is exactly what God did. He is “with us” in Jesus Christ. God’s message is that He sent His Son to be with us and showed us His compassion. Jesus had great compassion! He had enough compassion to sacrifice his life for man’s salvation. It provides hope for all human beings. We want to spread this hope.
Do you remember the story of Paul’s vision of the man of Macedonia? During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). Paul, with his traveling companions Silas, Luke and Timothy, was on the second missionary journey. The door was closed by the Holy Spirit in one direction and opened in another direction for missionary work. Paul, in a vision that was more than a dream, was communicated to in a supernatural way. The message was exceedingly simple. A man, a Macedonian, was standing before Paul and asking him to come across into Macedonia. In effect, he kept standing and yelling, “Help us!” The help desired was plainly spiritual help such as Paul was called to bring by means of the gospel. The Lord was assigning him this Gentile field for his labors.
Amazingly, I believe I personally heard two Macedonian-like calls for help within a period of two months. After traveling to Papua I was asked to go to Afghanistan. Both were to help the Lutheran Church to evaluate possible missionary and humanitarian work for the future.
These calls for help still lay heavy on my heart. How could I personally respond? How could I motivate others to respond to the information that God gave me? After visiting Papua, I thought it alone was enough to think about and digest. Yet, only two months later, in May 2002, I was completely immersed in Afghanistan. In addition to this, I had a clear and challenging opportunity to serve right at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Indonesia.
As a result of the trip to Afghanistan the Martin Luther Computer Center (primarily for women) was organized in Kabul. My visits from hearing these two calls for help may not have made much difference for the millions of people that live in these two places, but I had been moved and must act. Therefore, my prayers continue for both Papua and Afghanistan.
I was asked to speak about Papua, and especially about Afghanistan, many times since my visits. One question I was asked is: “Were you ever scared?” The answer returns to my childhood prayer.
Bless, Savior dear,
Be always near.
Keep me (and keep all)
From evil, harm, and fear.
I believe after seventy years of repeating this prayer, almost daily, the Lord answered it again and again. God has kept me “From evil, harm, and fear.” In several situations I did feel in danger but I was given courage by knowing that Jesus was with me every step of the way. Over the years I have learned this truth. Jesus never will let anything happen to me that He and I can’t handle. He knows it all and I know the rest. Ultimately, He is in control. This gives me courage to take risks and do my best in all circumstances. Fear did not keep me from going to Papua and Afghanistan and other places in this world. Faith moved in and fear moved out.
As you develop this attitude of courage you’ll be more willing to work hard moment by moment. And you’ll be one giant step closer to the use of all your talents for the glory of God.
Have you ever had any experiences where Jesus gave you peace during fearful situations?
In His service,
Pastor Bob Smith