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Day 33: The Birth of Hope

simeon holding Jesus

Simeon was an old man, holding out on death by holding onto a promise that was made to him by none other than God himself. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, ministering and watching. The Holy Spirit was on him and the Kingdom of God was at hand as he took the baby in his arms,

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to you word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

Anointed and prophesying, Simeon gazed into the realm beyond time and space, seeing in Jesus’ face the eternal. At once he saw baby and salvation. In those baby blue eyes he saw light and revelation for peoples living at odds with God. Raising the child in his hands he saw the glory of Israel. For all eyes to see, there was the child whose coming was prepared in the sight of all peoples: even eastern star gazers and scroll readers, looking for the One born King of the Jews.

Tears soak my beard. This Son is my savior, my king, my light, my hope. This hope was revealed to Gentiles, too–my ancestors were Welsh-Irish, not Jewish. What life would I have had if Jesus’ father hadn’t swept him away to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous wrath? Had Jesus not offered himself in my place, I would have suffered the horror of eternal separation from God.

Wet beard, bleary eyes, full heart, I, like Simeon, can hold this child before you and proclaim that salvation and revelation and light and glory has come!

I have a friend in Papua New Guinea named Ezekiel. He was already in his thirties when I came to know him and he’d been advocating for literacy, Bible translation and awareness since he was a school boy. He actively waits for the day when the word of God will be available in his heart language. “Active waiting” for Ezekiel means plodding day after day, drafting, translating, checking, sharing, preaching, teaching, leading: moving people toward the Bible and moving the Bible toward the people.

A few years back he became exceedingly ill and spent months in the hospital. Though weakened in body, his zest and gusto remain full strength. Though he fights constant pain he continues to work on translation, preparing for the day when we can revise, check, and publish the fruit of his labor.

Imagine the day when, like Simeon in the temple, Ezekiel will be able to hold up the New Testament with wonder in his eyes, and say,

“God’s word was prepared before the eyes of all the people. Within it you will find revelation, light, and glory. Within it you will find hope and consolation.”

You must pray with us that this day will come when our brother will be able to depart in peace, having accomplished the God’s grand purpose of his life.

Prayer and Provision Opportunities
Stay informed and inspired to pray for the Somau Garia translation team by clicking here. If you’d like to partner with Pioneer Bible Translators in sending us out to get our boots on the ground in Papua New Guinea and get moving forward on finishing translation of the Somau Garia New Testament, click here to visit our Donate page where you will find instructions on how to do so.

Blessings!

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Day 30: Compelled

It is easy to over-simplify missions and missionaries, reducing the mission and those doing it to the lowest common denominator. For example, supposing that every missionary is exclusively motivated by the Great Commission is a mistake. I once knew a lady who characterized missionaries as people “who like to use the church’s money to take extended vacations.” I’ve heard others paint missionaries as social misfits who couldn’t make it in a real job so they moved overseas where they could be weird at a distance. I’m sure that these folks had their reasons for their views. Maybe the missionary they knew only spoke of the Great Commission. Perhaps they met an unscrupulous missionary who wasted lots of money on frequent, expensive vacations (doubtful, but possible). Perhaps they knew a missionary that they thought was absolutely odd. I’ve known a few :-).

As a missionary, I will tell you that missionaries are as different from one another as any group of people. Some missionaries are exuberant, some reserved; some boisterous, some edgy; some excitable, some unflappable; some quiet and deliberate, others spontaneous; some deeply thoughtful, others reactive; some mature, others immature. Missionaries are people, broken, in need of a Savior, dependent upon God’s grace and mercy. One quality I think most missionaries share is reflected in Paul’s comment found in 2 Corinthians 5:

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

In my opinion most missionaries I’ve ever served with (this is a personal observation) are profoundly grateful that Jesus died for them and furthermore, raised again. Because of that, at least on some level, they no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them. This doesn’t make missionaries perfect in their ability to lay self aside. They struggle with this reality as much as anyone. It does reflect their motivation for going and doing and being, though. While the Great Commission does come into it for most, the love of Christ that caused him to sacrifice himself for us is likely more personal, more intimate, more compelling and is more likely to carry a person through dark days than is a mere command.

Don’t miss the importance of being compelled by Christ’s love. Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Sobering words, aren’t they? These words drive us beyond the surface of legalistic pietism and onward toward a life transforming spiritual worship–offering our bodies as living sacrifices. Going to the mission field, being separated from home and hearth, missing holidays and family events and whatever other of our favorite things mean nothing if they are compelled by some reason other than love.

Will our love be perfect? Of course not. Missionaries are not perfect people. The quality of our love, our willingness to lay self aside and embrace Christ’s sufferings, indeed, the needs of others, is in the process of being perfected. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, the quality of our love will become more His and less ours.

What compels you as you consider the missionaries you know and the missions you or your church support? When you pray for your missionaries or write checks to support them, my prayer is that these are acts of living sacrifice; acts of worship. The joy and warmth that accompany loving Jesus in this way will not be supplied by other motivations or means.

I am overjoyed when I consider the love being shown to Jesus as we worship him together in prayer, in generosity, and living sacrifice. Thank you for loving him with all your heart! Thank you for worshiping Him! Thank you for walking with us toward renewed service in Papua New Guinea. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

Shalom!