It’s been quite a summer, hasn’t it, friends?
Not only has it been a rather full and crazy month or so in my own life (hence not much posting here!), but it’s been a hard one in America and round the world.
First there was the awful bombing and attempted coup in Turkey. Then the mass shooting on our own shores in Orlando and the tragedy in Nice. And then we Americans turned on each other yet again, with the continued shootings of unarmed black men and then the retaliatory killing of police officers, leaving both groups hurting and feeling unsafe (though that is nothing new to the African American community).
Our world is a tumultuous place, isn’t it?
I’ve wanted to write about all this, but I haven’t been exactly sure how. What do I know, what can I say, in the face of such tragedy? In church recently, a visiting missionary spoke of how lately she has felt like the world is on fire. And that was even before some of these most recent events. Sometimes I feel like that also—and sometimes I just want to turn away from this groaning, whirling ball of pain and not think about it. Maybe you do too.
But at the same time, this missionary spoke of what God is doing, all around the world. Satan may be doing his darnedest, but our God moving also. As the children in Narnia hear with a thrill of hope they don’t even understand, “Aslan is on the move.”
And He will not be stopped.
In the Middle East, for example, with the refugee crisis. It seems all we see in the headlines is turmoil and violence and death, but did you know that people throughout that region are having dreams and visions of Jesus? This has been happening in the Muslim world for a number of years, but I have heard recently from three completely separate missionaries how pervasive and amazing it is right now. Refugee children are even drawing pictures of “the Man in White” who goes with them and protects them…even if they don’t fully grasp who He is yet. I’ve even heard a report of ISIS fighters coming to Christ.
And in our own hurting nation, where our deep wounds of oppression and racial injustice have never been fully dealt with or healed, I get emails all the time (from my Google News “racial reconciliation” alert) of how God is working, especially in His church. Denominations that have long been white-dominated are making intentional and official efforts toward repentance and racial reconciliation. Pastors of black and white churches are aiming to switch pulpits once in a while. And just after that violent week of shootings, thousands of God’s people met together in our nation’s capital for “Together 2016” to pray for healing and repentance and reconciliation. Little did they know when the event was planned how needed it would be at that time.
Yes, in many ways things are bad. But our God is working. And I want to be part of it.
I don’t know how, exactly. But I can think of two ways. Maybe you can think of more!
Continue cultivating relationships with and learning from people who are different from me. My friend and critique partner Sandra and I always talk through racial events when they happen, but I want go deeper in other relationships as well. I’d love to get to know some Muslim friends also, though I’m not sure the best way to do that yet.
I continue to be convicted of how crucial this is. After all, we can’t solve any of these world crises ourselves. But Jesus can! The missionary I mentioned also spoke of the growing global movement of prayer in recent years, and how historically such movements have always preceded incredible revival around the world. I think we are already starting to see the fruit of this prayer in revivals in America with movements like The Call – Azusa Now and All Nations North America – The Call, and how the Holy Spirit is moving explosively in places like China and the Middle East. But the enemy hates that, and we need to keep praying! My most recent step in this direction has been joining in a 30-day initiative of praying for ISIS. If you’d like to learn more, click here.
So those are my thoughts, friends. I also was blessed and encouraged by this article by a Southern white pastor–I hope you’ll read and be encouraged too.
So what are your thoughts? How is the Lord giving you hope in the midst of the darkness we see round us? What can we do to join in what Jesus is doing? Please comment and share!