“A day that will live in infamy!” Those were some of the words of President Franklin Deleanor Roosevelt used to describe the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the USA into the Pacific Theater of WWII. This shocking event revealed the vulnerability of the USA West Coast and challenged a primarily European immigrant population to awaken to the world of pan-Asia.
Thankfully, many of those who fought in the Pacific Theater of WWII were not left with hatred and bitterness. Instead, they were convicted that to prevent another such war, Christians needed to learn more about Japanese and Asian cultures and then enter those worlds to share the love of Jesus and the grace of God.
Several years ago, I was honored to visit several churches in Thailand that are a direct result of the church planting work of a former POW from WWII. His horrible experience as a prisoner gave rise to the call of God to re-enter Asia and commit his life to tearing down cultural barriers and making these precious souls his brothers and sisters in Christ. As I worshiped in a congregation one Sunday in Bangkok, Thailand, there were people from 11 different nationalities present. Despite the dramatic differences of language, culture, color, and experiences, we were one in Christ.
The Western world and Asia now face tremendous political, social, and religious challenges from the Arab and Persian Muslim cultures. My prayer is that hardship and difficulty will not breed hate, but open our eyes to the opportunities of learning more about these cultures and sharing Jesus.
In our reading for December 7 — Acts 28 — the anger and hatred toward Paul from his own countrymen have led to his arrest. However, God has assured him that he will share his testimony and the good news about Jesus and the Kingdom of God in Rome. As Paul finishes up his journey, we see God keeping this promise and providing Paul a real taste of loving community from the followers of Christ there and the incredible opportunity to share Christ in ways he could have never imagined.
Political and spiritual hardship can open doors nothing else can if our hearts are tuned to God!
//Inspiration: Acts 28:30-31
For two whole years Paul stayed there [Rome] in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ — with all boldness and without hindrance.
//Incarnation: My take on today’s readings for my life
Paul had desperately wanted to share the Gospel in Rome. God promised him that he would do so. However, Paul had no clue about the journey — how difficult, how fraught with hardship and danger, how full of legal maneuvering it would be. Yet God was faithful. There are times when it feels as if everything planned falls to the ground and roadblocks are placed on every path. I must remember in these times that God is working his plan and his will behind the scenes. If I don’t get overly frustrated, if I remember my call before God, he will get me where he wants me. My “getting there” may be more eventful than I want, but if my heart is loyal, my arrival is assured.
//Invitation: My prayer asking God to help in this journey
Father, give me the faith of Paul as well as his sense of mission and purpose. When discouragements come, I pray I can be a blessing and godly influence on those around me like he was on his trip to Rome. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.