Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20
Last week I returned from my fourth mission trip to Anchorage to serve with GraceWorks Alaska. I am overwhelmed as I consider what I should share.
I could share how God protected me from broken bones when I suffered a bad fall as soon as I arrived in Anchorage. (The resulting knot and bruise, according to my son, was recently upgraded from “very terrible” to “terrible.”)
I could share about the three adults in a blended household who prayed to receive Christ and were overjoyed at the groceries we were able to provide for them. They could now care for their own children and the children under their care while their parents are in prison.
Or I could tell you about the man to whom we had witnessed for several years and how his eternity is finally secure in Christ. Then there are the children who gave their lives to Christ, the Bible-reading challenge I issued that had kids reading the Gospel of John right there in the park, the strongholds we saw get torn down in young people who have seen far too much far too soon.
And then there are the homeless, many of whom suffer addictions but have testimonies of faith in Christ, like the lady who spontaneously broke out in a Holy Spirit-filled prayer of revival over her people as we ministered to her.
There are stories of young families who have put their futures on the line to follow God’s calling to serve Him in Anchorage – fathers, mothers and children living in RVs while waiting for God to reveal His plan; the man who – despite his lack of seminary training – left Georgia with his family to go plant a church plant that meets in the back of a coffee shop.
I could tell you about the personal heartache our family experienced several times that week, heartache that left my husband repeatedly in tears and prompted me to suggest I return on the next flight home, and how my husband insisted I complete the work God had put before me.
And I could tell you how our city of Orlando began to experience its own heartache, beginning with murder of musician and Christ-follower Christina Grimmie, escalating a day later with the terror attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, and concluding tragically with the death of 2-year-old Lane Graves as the result of a gator attack at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort. Somehow contracting norovirus on the plane home seems so very unimportant.
As I reviewed all the many things on my heart, I began to discern a common thread. This series of superficially disjointed realities – pain, hunger, crime, broken families, homelessness, poverty, murder, tragedy and sickness – shares common roots in sin. It is because of the fall of man, and our own fallen natures, that all creation groans (Romans 8:22) as the world seems to spiral out of control.
Maybe Jesus isn’t coming back tomorrow (or maybe He is), but never has it been so close to His return and His ensuing judgment of sin. Never has the message of the gospel been more timely or more needed. Never have the people of Anchorage, the people of Orlando or the people in your community more desperately needed Jesus’ saving touch. My husband saw this when he told me to stay put in Anchorage. I am thankful for his level head and yielding heart.
Jesus saves. That is the message our dying world needs. Who will tell it?