Friday, December 18, 2015


Ebola is thousands of miles away from Kenya's pristine Indian Ocean beaches, but the deadly disease appears to be discouraging people there and elsewhere in this vast continent as the outbreak, which has killed more than 2,500 people in four countries, continues to defy international efforts to control it.

It is even having its own effects on church attendance. One man said, "I think people are less inclined to mix with others ... People are now more cautious about mingling." As the Christian community is just getting over the terrorist scares that caused many to avoid church now Ebola hits the west coast of Africa and spreads more quickly than anyone would have believed.

With everything going on in the world today, I can't help but think of the verses in Matthew 24 where Jesus is warning us against false teachers and continues by saying "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars...nation will rise against nation...there will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places...all these are the beginning of sorrows." He goes on in grim details but the end of that passage has a promise.

Lisa and I are scheduled to return to Kenya in November while our boys will be once again left behind with their grandparents. We have had discussions asking God for wisdom. We sometimes wonder if it is wise for both of us to go at the same time to Africa. What if something happens to us? I find strength in Matthew 24:14 where Jesus says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." You might be thinking what is so great about that statement.

This promise tells me that some generation will succeed in finishing the task others have begun. Christians in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are in the forefront of world evangelism today; Christ's followers among many peoples must labor together for the harvest. Americans cannot do it all alone if we want to reach the world with the gospel. I need to labor with my African brethren. This verse helps me to understand clearly that this mission cannot be done in human strength. The first generation of the church experienced rapid growth through a faithful dependence on the Holy Spirit. Today in our Western Christian thinking we seem to rely more on money, literature, mass transportation and communication than on the power of God. With a world population five times what it was a mere century and a half ago, the stakes have never been as high as they are now.

But according to scripture, worldwide evangelism occurs within the context of suffering (Mt. 24:9-13; Mk 13:9-13). Many early Christians recognized suffering as a prerequisite for the end (Col 1:24), because Christ's suffering can not be separated from our experiences as His witnesses. We will suffer for our faith. It seems when we are least comfortable with the world that we proclaim the kingdom of our Lord the most.

So with terrorists attacking churches and Ebola moving around Africa, do we stop ministering in these areas? Do we fear our own death? Throughout history, doors were opened to the Gospel through the blood of martyrs. Many peoples will not be reached today without Christians who are prepared to go into areas that truly need the message of hope even if it means a possibility of losing their health or their lives for the gospel Jesus has called us to proclaim.

So we will continue down the path that leads us to Kenya in November. We would ask that you pray for laborers for the Lord's harvest (Mt 9:38), that we may all become that promised generation.

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