Doesn’t it seem like every time you turn on your television set, open the newspaper, or even flip on the radio, bad news and terrifying headlines leap out and try to drag you down into a state of helplessness and hopelessness? Whether it’s the virus currently ravaging the land, new lockdown procedures, or the wildly fluctuating stock market, it feels like you’re on an old-style rollercoaster with no seat belts and no control. It is during those moments when God does some of his most amazing miracles and reminds us to hold on to him, not to the things of this world.
In light of all of these stories I thought it might be a great time to share a story of amazing blessing in Chile, just before the lockdown procedures were instituted.
It was Sunday morning and the day was just beginning. Services had been prepared for the many who would come to the church, meals to share along with piping hot coffee and cool bottled water. Worship music filled the air with a sound not of loneliness, but rather of deep longing and an incredible celebration.
Carlos spoke that morning of the coming announcement from the government and the effect it would have on the lives of all in the church and in the country. However, he also reminded the congregation, that darkness cannot overcome the light because Jesus had already defeated the evil one. While they would probably not be meeting for a time, the church was not a building, but something more, deeper, lasting, standing as tall as the mountains and as deep as the ocean itself. God would use this time for his glory. For proof of such, his invitation rang out to meet at a local pool and see new life enter the kingdom through faith, water, and the spirit.
It wasn’t long before a group had gathered around the edge the pool and voices lifted in song and spirit to the glorify God in the highest. Pastor Carlos and his staff, dressed in bright red t-shirts entered the cool clear water, praying for the time they would spend, the people entering into the water of baptism, the congregation as a whole, the nation of Chile and the state of the world.
One by one, four women glided into the water. Clear of eye and mind they listened intently as the pastor announced their names, and spoke of the decision each had made. Pastor Carlos turned, calling each by their complete name asking if they understood and willingly accepted the full nature of their decision to follow Jesus, the Son of God. Of the need to be born again of spirit and water, and the cleansing of sin through the blood of the lamb. With eyes shining brightly, hearts swelled with wonder and gratitude, each woman gave their declaration and were swiftly thrust beneath the crystal water to be baptized. The congregation gave whoops and hollers of encouragement and praise to God and followed the service with singing and celebration welcoming each to a family larger and more complete than they could ever imagine.
As the sun rose in the late afternoon sky this small church group enjoyed a time of fellowship and laughter. Basking in the glow of freedom, love, and hope born only through Christ. Even though the days to come would be difficult, with curfews and quarantines being enforced by soldiers and proclamations, we are all reminded that the church is more than a building. God's people are more than a crowd on a Sunday morning. That the Gospel is truly good news! News of love, life, and hope. News that rings as true for each of us today as it did for the disciples who watched our Lord ascend into heaven on a clear crisp day 2000 years ago. Good news that we can hold onto even when it feels like the darkness is going to overwhelm us and that hope is lost. Good news we can share today!
During this unprecedented time in our history, we ask each of you to remember to pray for our Global Partners. The fallout from this crisis is overwhelming and while it will be a rough road for numerous of us here in the United States, for our partners in places like Chile, India, Spain and others, the road to recovery will be even more so. While we could tell you stories of desperation, it is important to also share with you stories of God's provision and the impact you help make when you give to and pray for our many Global Partners. This story is one of many whose lives have been transformed because of your generosity and love. Know that we are truly thankful for and praying for each of you during this crisis. Not only that but so are your partners around the world. Further proof that the church is not a building, but a people that God is calling out to change the world one day, one prayer and one person at a time.