January 15, 2009

The Macedonian Man

Over the last 5 years our church has partnered with Casas por Cristo to build homes for families in Juarez, Mexico. I'm not sure if you're aware, but over the last year the violence in Juarez has risen to an alarming rate - mainly attributed to gangs, drugs, and money. The murder rate soared in 2008 in this border town and officials (in TX & Mexico) are working diligently to get a handle on the violence.

These last months, as we have been making plans and deciding whether or not to return to Juarez next summer, you can imagine that there has been a little resistance and apprehension. There are many who think that our youth should not be put in this dangerous position, and that it's a risk far too great for us to take. Without question, there are certainly important things to consider in making this decision, both for our church and for us individually. But one thing should influence the decision more than anything else.

This morning I was reading in Acts 16. Paul and Silas had set out on what we know as Paul's 2nd missionary journey. They meet Timothy, decide to take him with them, and head north. Something interesting about their travel method: they had no GPS, no compass (at least that I'm aware of), and probably not even a decent map. They also had no International Mission Board or travel agent they were working with to guide them in their itinerary. But what we do find is that several times on this leg of their journey they changed directions because "the Holy Spirit had told them not to go...". And we also read that "again the Spirit of Jesus did not let them go." Think about the communion and fellowship one would have to have with the Lord to be this in tune with His Spirit. Well, that communion and fellowship is offered to me and you.

Going a step further - after they encounter several divine stop signs - Paul has a vision. He sees a man from Macedonia begging him, "Come over here and help us". So what do you think they did? They left for Macedonia "at once, for we could only conclude that God was calling us...."

So what of Juarez? What of these people - these families living out of cardboard boxes and buses and the trunks of their cars? Is it too dangerous? Is it worth the risk? Ultimately, yes! As Mark Batterson says in Wild Goose Chase, "When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? God wants to send us to dangerous places to do difficult things." But at the same time, this is something that each of us must decide ourselves. I can't tell you whether or not God is calling you to go. And you can't judge that the person who hears and sees the plea of those in need and is compelled to go is foolish. If you do this, you are placing yourself in dangerous company with those who see the Gospel "as foolishness". If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is YOUR Gospel, you are called to "Go".

If you're a parent and your teenager is considering this, you ought to be on your knees asking the Lord for wisdom. If you're a college student or adult and there's this holy nagging that has you thinking about Juarez, maybe this is your "Macedonian Man", calling out to you, "Come over here and help us". If so, my prayer for you is that you hear that calling...and you go.

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