(This post was written prior to the Thailand team departing for their trip, but is being posted now to explain the original purpose for partnering with ZOE.)
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you." Isaiah 43:2 (amplified)
It would be a gross understatement to say that we all face obstacles--what Isaiah refers to as waters, rivers, fires--in the form of various trials, struggles, and discouragements. Such is the plight of a fallen world placed under the dominion of fallen people. Practicing medicine in the US, we may think that children's health challenges consist predominantly of ensuring a healthy lifestyle (avoid overly processed foods, get outside for 60 minutes a day, limit time in front of a computer or smart phone screen). Parenting in SoCal, we may think the major challenges of parenting involve ensuring our kids develop gratitude, avoid a sense of entitlement, and not become bullies. Worshiping as part of the western church, we may think the Christian walk--the "cross" we are called to bear--is comprised of showing up in time for offertory, singing loudly enough that your neighbors know you're worshiping, but not too loudly as to be deemed "charismatic", and saying we'll pray for our missionaries.
This is not to trivialize such challenges. These are real and pressing issues that we must confront with integrity and good stewardship before God. In addition, though, may we never forget that just as we see throughout the story of the Bible (and in our own lives for that matter), the troubles we face tend to narrow the scope of our vision as to what God is doing with His creation on a grander scale. We forget that children around the world go to bed hungry and get sick every time they drink from their contaminated water supply. Families are stuck in a cycle of poverty that tells loving but trapped parents that it is a proper decision to sell one or more of their children into slavery. And in the midst of it all, God's church is called to do His kingdom work of bringing His redemption and restoration into the broken creation that He loves--to make His victory a reality by the power of Christ.
God promises to walk through the waters and fire with His children. The same God who cares enough to walk with us through the struggles we face at home, at work, and in community has a heart that also breaks for the evils taking part on the other side of this great globe. Sometimes, His presence takes the form of His followers carrying His light into the darkness. The team you are sending to Thailand this September will be supporting the ongoing labors of ZOE international. Aside from witnessing firsthand what God has been doing through the amazing people at ZOE, we will be providing health assessments to orphans rescued from human trafficking and to the ministry students who are taking up the cause of breaking the cycle of evil. We will also be assisting in outreach to nearby villages to educate refugees and natives as to the perils of human slavery. We are humbled and thankful that God has placed the saints at ZOE in a position to shine His light deep in the heart of this evil.
In the face of such darkness, please partner with us by praying that God would walk with us, allowing us to show and see His presence. As we take up arms alongside other Christian soldiers in the spiritual battle, may God show His victory over the tyranny of sin! We will blog the ways we witness God at work during this journey; hopefully as you read, God will reveal the ways in which He is bringing about victory in your trials as well!
Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor's song:
To him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally
If you are interested in learning more about the work happening in Thailand through ZOE international, visit their website.