What is this hope? Not the kind of hope we throw around in casual conversation...
"I hope tomorrow is a nice day."
"I hope I get a letter in the mail."
"We hope things turn out for the best."
I'm talking about the hope we have in Christ - for salvation and eternal life!
This hope can easily be taken for granted. Growing up in a Christian home and being at church whenever the doors were open, sometimes hope was a given. It just was. And it wasn't until facing cancer that I realized the power of this hope - this hope in Christ. Because without the promise of salvation and eternal life, a diagnosis is meaningless... healing is meaningless... and life is meaningless...
I was sweetly reminded of this incredible hope while representing Cookson Hills during a missions weekend at our church. I admit, I tend to tune out when it comes to talking about missions or listening to missionaries. A lot of us probably have images of huts in the bush with memories of boring slide shows... But it's a whole new world out there!!! Missions is everything from children's homes and schools to coffee houses and libraries!
The weekend gave me a new appreciation for today's missionaries and the importance of sharing this HOPE with people. In fact, I came away with four distinct observations:
1. Persecution of Christians is Real
We can easily distance ourselves from the persecution of Christians around the world because it's so far away and isn't personal. Our speaker for the missions weekend was very real and had been very persecuted in his home country. The government caused a wreck that injured his son, injured his wife, and killed his unborn child. His home was invaded and belongings confiscated...at least twice. He and his family were harassed and received death threats to the point that they were forced to escape the country for their safety. They are now based in the United States where they work with Gospel Wave Media Ministry and share Jesus via satellite.
2. Heart Language
People need to hear Jesus in their heart language or mother tongue. Our speaker shared that watching the Jesus film years ago put out by CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) and hearing Jesus speak in his heart language was the turning point for him. Jesus is for ALL people, so we need to share Jesus in ALL cultures... not just our "American" ways.
3. Technology Rules
Did you know most people around the world have cell phones or satellite? Even in the desert??? And in the slums??? People may not have electricity, but they have solar powered chargers for their phones! Or someone in town may have a generator and collect a fee to let people use it to charge their devices. Technology has opened up a whole new opportunity to reach people in closed countries. People may not be allowed to meet in person for church, but they can meet in chat rooms on-line.
4. Israel is Vital
Praying for the peace of Israel is obviously important for the people of Israel, but it is also vital for spreading the gospel to the world. It is a satellite hub for many ministries. Gospel Wave uploads their programming to Israel where it is then sent to closed countries.
So... what does this hope mean for those who don't know Christ? What if they worship Allah or another god? What if they worship L. Ron Hubbard or another person? What if they do more good works than I will ever do? It doesn't matter how much they believe in their god or how good they are, they have NO HOPE without this HOPE!
Jesus is the only way to salvation!
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6People need to know about this hope, and we need to tell them!
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. - Hebrews 6:19-20