Challenges Matter

Challenges Matter

Challenges Matter

What have been your life’s top five challenges? Three? One? Well, this month, we have five stories that show what our Latin America Mission workers face.

From one point of view, we know almost all the people in the Bible faced incredible odds. Looking more closely, we discover how faith developed their spiritual life. They needed God’s strength and power because challenges matter!

Abraham had to move to a land he had never seen. Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, feared a confrontation would take place. He had been separated for years from his brother, Esau. In the next generation, Joseph recalled two startling dreams from his teenage years. They were fulfilled when his half-starving brothers appeared before him. They came twice with empty sacks, hoping they would be filled with grain. While the Genesis narratives in Genesis rarely use the word faith, the evidence of obedience to God brings impressive results. Why? Because God wants us to be overcomers, and challenges matter! 

We realize that we no longer live in a Christian nation, whatever that means.  Regardless, we still want overcomers known for their godly lives. So, I return to Ezra and Nehemiah, part of a remnant. Very few Jewish families returned to Judea after the Babylonian exile.  Where Israel had once been a mighty nation, Jerusalem now lay in ruins. Worse, after the community was scattered, worship no longer brought people together for regular festivals of joy. Ezra and Nehemiah faced endless difficulties, and it was through their faith that they survived the daily frustrations. They had to constantly depend on the Lord because challenges matter!

Because I love church history, I consider Christians who faced relentless attacks. At times, assaults were directed against central Christian doctrines. Other times, leadership was marked by scandal and greed. Always, though, God raised up new leaders. Each generation has allowed believers the opportunity to live faithful lives. This has been true since the Church was born on Pentecost. Yes, each age will face its own challenges.

This month in the LAM Newsletter, we meet several faithful men and women. Their lives are a testament to the daily demands of faith. Rommel and Ana Julia Raudales explain how God is changing the lives of men in Nicaraguan jails. Joel and Maire Garcia, from Venezuela, are church planters in Toronto. Joel is pastoring a new Spanish-speaking congregation where immigrants meet to worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Marcelo and Guilliana Viana, from Brazil, are on their second church plant in Winnipeg. There, newly saved Portuguese-speaking believers gather for worship. 

Hannah Francois, widowed a year ago, thanks the LAM community for prayers during the last months when she struggled after her husband Wayne died from cancer. Finally, Carolina Holguin is a Ph.D. student at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton. She is doing Old Testament studies, which takes her deep inside the challenge of becoming more like Jesus Christ. 

   By David Phillips