The Sunday night of missions festival Bob Enstrom came up to me at the evening service excited about summer. I got to know Bob several years back at the summer book group, and he was an enthusiastic participant when he was in town.
We talked about different summer plans. I couldn’t talk to Bob without feeling lifted up; this meeting was no exception, his interest and care always genuine. Bob encouraged me when he heard some of what I was thinking about with this summer’s group. He told me how much he enjoyed participating, told me some of his plans, and then it was time to head over to the Global Café.
Bob seemed to be in fine shape, but Tuesday of that week, I received word of his unexpected death.
Yesterday I went to his funeral. Right after, I headed to the prayer for the persecuted church group. In it, we lifted up people, churches, countries where being a Christian is costly.
We prayed for Andrew Brunson, whose trial is scheduled for this week. We prayed for the Korean Americans who are possibly going to be freed in the days ahead. We prayed for one who came to faith at a church service where one of our congregants preached in a hostile country. We prayed for churches in Nigeria, China, Kenya, Ethiopia. We prayed for refugees in many countries, some facing repatriation. We prayed for the persecutors, longing for Saul-to-Paul conversions all over the world. You can see our prayer sheet from yesterday here. Feel free to join in the prayers.
So there’s a lot of suffering in this world. It can get heavy. As I write this, I’m listening to ChurchFolk, finding some solace in the music of friends singing “Jesus Lives and So Shall I”
Jesus lives though once he died
In the ground he was forsaken
Yet the stone was rolled aside
How the gates of hell were shaken
Death obeys Him, yes it must
Jesus is my hope and trust,
Jesus is my hope and trust.
Time is short. All of us—we’re just passing through. We don’t have forever to do whatever it is God has designed for us. And I’m thinking of how every prayer and every encounter we have with people is precious and can’t be taken for granted.
God, I need ears to hear and eyes to see. There is a particular “wonder” to today—whatever it may hold, whoever I meet, whatever happens to me or the ones I love or the people who are “the enemy.” I want to go forward like Christ, more mindful than I’ve been of my call to be like Jesus, a diplomat, an ambassador, representing to this world I know so well, the other world, the one that though I don’t know it so well, is my real home. Let us live as a city on a hill, salt, light, a lamp on a stand.