Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fear or Faith?

We live in a time a great fear.  Yesterday we awoke to a severe earthquake here in Venezuela.  Later in the day we visited with our friend, Yoe, one of the worship leaders at Ondas de Paz United Methodist Church. He shared the pain of the home invasion in his grandfather's home and the brutal murder of his uncle.  The day before we spoke with Ana, one of our staff at the Seminary.  She shared the difficulty of unemployment for her husband who is among the 80% unemployed construction workers in this nation.

This raises the question:  Will we live by faith or by fear? Well, which one?

John Wesley went to the English colony of Georgia in North America to reach the Native Americans and to minister to the British citizens in the fledgling colony.  He was an ordained Anglican priest with a tremendous commitment to live as an authentic Christian.

Yet he was faced with failure in his work in Georgia.  He returned the England on a ship while living under the pall of suspicion and accusation.  He found himself at a low point in his life.

While on board ship, they encountered some severe weather threatening to sink the ship.  Then they were disoriented when approaching the coast of Great Britain and feared hitting the rocks of the shore.

Here are John Wesley's own words: 

"Tue 24 Jan 1738: We spoke with two ships, outward bound, from whom we had the welcome news of our wanting but 160 leagues of the Land’s End. My mind was now full of thought, part of which I writ down as follows:
I went to America to convert the Indians; but Oh! who shall convert me? Who, what is he that will deliver me from this evil heart of unbelief? I have a fair summer religion. I can talk well; nay, and believe myself, while no danger is near: but let death look me in the face, and my spirit is troubled. Nor can I say, ‘To die is gain!’
I have a sin of fear, that when I’ve spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore!"

Praise God, the following May he encountered the risen Christ and was soundly converted and received the assurance only the Spirit can give.  That transformed his life and ministry.

It is that assurance, that absolute confidence that sees us through the really tough times in life and causes us to be willing to face opportunities and challenges with a fearlessness others cannot comprehend.  "What can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?"  Nothing. Of that we are sure.

It is this assurance and confidence in Christ we are able to share in Venezuela in the best of our Wesleyan tradition unafraid and unashamed of the Gospel.  And it is that strength which empowers the students and alumni of the Seminario Wesleyano de Venezuela reach this nation for Christ.

Fear?  No!

Faith?  Yes!

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