We sent lanterns up in remembrance of Mason, and as I watched them, I reflected that the terrible event that has been so hard for us has opened doors we could not have expected. (Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash)
by Sheryl Shaw, North America Director
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:25-33)
I have been studying one of my favorite Bible characters, Simeon. Simeon had waited his entire life for the Messiah to rescue Israel. When Simeon goes to the temple courts on that day, it’s because the Holy Spirit has directed him to go. When he holds the child, God’s promise kept, his vision is expanded. He sees that God’s plan is not just to rescue Israel; God’s plan is to reveal Himself to all nations. Simeon’s vision has shifted and he can see that God’s promise is not what he had thought it was after all. It’s as if God said, “Not only am I the promise keeper, but I’m going to show you how much bigger that promise is than you could ever have imagined, and now you are a part of it.” What an incredible blessing! This is redemption for every people and nation arriving in the midst of darkness and oppression.
Since my nephew Mason died unexpectedly a year ago, my family has come to know God’s comfort in a deep way. For the past year, his college-age friends have been showing up at our house frequently, sitting and telling stories or just being with us. Many of them have had questions about faith and God that have been sparked by Mason’s faith and they have been felt more urgently since Mason’s death. Last month, on his birthday, we held a remembrance of Mason’s life, and Mason’s friends showed up in full force. Two of his friends have now begun to follow Christ for the first time. One of them told us that she never went to a church but instead, bought a Bible because she wanted to search out who Jesus was for herself. She did and she now believes and is following him!
We sent lanterns up in remembrance of Mason, and as I watched them, I reflected that the terrible event that has been so hard for us has opened doors we could not have expected. In this deep, deep darkness, God has shone his beautiful light and others have come to find him. I have always been amazed at God’s faithfulness, how his redemptive work is so much bigger than anything I could have imagined. Yet I know that like Simeon, when I listen and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, God will show me just how expansive his work can be, even in the middle of the worst circumstances.
God has made very clear promises to us at Global Teams and here we are in the middle of a pandemic. Yet we have seen God at work all over the world, with numbers of people coming to him from Muslim, Hindu and animist backgrounds. We have realized that he is once again, expanding our vision as he keeps his promises. He is calling more and more from many nations to go to the unreached people groups that are near to them. We found an opening and the right field partners and have sent to a people group we have prayed for over the last eight years! Light in the darkness. God’s promise to Simeon, to Israel and to us is being fulfilled; redemption for every nation and people group. I think God delights in showing us how he can do his best work when things are at their worst. Continue to pray for more workers for the harvest, for more openings into those groups who have yet to hear and for their hearts to be ready to receive God’s promise. Pray for us, that we would be ready and when the Holy Spirit tells us to move, we move…