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Brazil Church Planting Field Story Latin America

Abraham: Lessons For Us Today

"But Abraham trusted God at His word. God’s character. He had faith. And he did not just surrender himself, but all those for which he was responsible, in God’s trustworthy hands. Am I able to do the same?"

     In this season I have had more free time with my children in the evenings.  Cooking together, playing games, reading and singing have been a joy.  My littlest started singing an old familiar tune yesterday and it caught my attention.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness. 
All I have to do is follow…
Strength for today,
Is mine all the way.
And all I need for tomorrow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness.
All I have to do is follow.

     The story of Abraham has popped up numerous times over the last few weeks as well.  In our family devotions, one of my kid’s bed-time book choices, a couple sermons I listened to—and when God repeats Himself to me—I know He wants me to pay attention.  I kept asking Him what it was He wanted me to understand.
     I began reading about Abraham’s life. I read about his calling and his blessing. His failings and his successes.  His conversations with God.  Then I reached what was said about him in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. What made Abraham’s faith stand out was that when he was called to go, he (v.8) “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”  That floors me!  What complete surrender! He was willing to relinquish control to the One he trusted.
     That can be so hard for one person to do for himself. But he had his wife, Lot and his family, all his servants, his animals, his belongings. It is possible it could have been a hundred people. What if they ran out of food? Would there be water along the way? What if they were attacked? What if? What if?
     But he trusted God at His word. God’s character. He had faith. And he did not just surrender himself, but all those for which he was responsible, in God’s trustworthy hands.  Am I able to do the same?
     When this pandemic started swirling, we started talking about how devastating it would be if it reaches our tiny town in the inland of northeast Brazil.  The closest hospital with an ICU (only 20 beds) serves 1.6 million people and is 2 hours away.  Our little town reacted quickly—one of the first towns in the state to shut their schools on March 16th.
     Until last week, almost six weeks in, people were restless, they had not been personally affected by the virus, they were on the surface obeying the lock-down.  But it was half-hearted. Businesses kept the doors half-open and if you wanted anything—you just knocked, and they would let you in.  And no one was really staying home, playing cards on the sidewalks with friends, closed bars turned into “family cookouts” night after night.
     Now the virus is spreading badly in the big cities, and most people from our region in those cities are out of work and facing hunger. Violence has skyrocketed, with homicide rates doubling in the month of April alone.They’ve run out of options there, so they are trying to return home any way possible. Two already did, knowing they were infected, and have brought the virus to our community.
     Masks are now mandatory.  Fines are high for non-essential businesses caught selling their product.  People arriving from out of town are in danger of persecution.  Everyone is tense. Panic is near the surface.  Rumors circulate.  It is hard to know what is true.
     Everyone is wondering, what is going to happen now?  Food shortages? Civil unrest? Businesses closing permanently? 
     It all hit me after prayer meeting online on Wednesday, and when I finally admitted to myself I was scared, I cried out to the Lord.  We could probably get out, but what about the people in our church? Our neighbors and friends? Then God reminded me again of Abraham. He was called, and by faith he obeyed. Can we trust Him?  Do I have faith?  Everyone’s answer to that question is personal. For me it is, “Yes.”
     Let me explain why. Besides what I have read and studied in the Scriptures about God, I have experienced Him and His faithfulness over and over again. I can say, like the Psalmist in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” I can confidently say, (Psalm 91:2) “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
     And if you can believe it, what was once a quiet niggle of anticipation has grown quite loud, quieting the voices of dread and panic. Anticipation because I know God has a plan and is doing a good work if we seek Him. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) Who will come to know the Lord because of this? How will we see His church grow? How will we see our community come together providing for those in need?
     The battle for my peace and faith may be strongly tested in the coming days, but I have faith that my God is bigger and stronger than all we are facing.  So, I pray, as I imagine Abraham did.  Lord, go before us—You know the way.  And that old tune just keeps going through my head.

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