Mrs. Sherry Miller, Adjunct Professor at BJU
Not long ago I was reading about the demon possessed man in Mark 5. The description I read reminded me of many of the women I work with. They are not demon possessed in quite the same way, yet they struggle with demons nonetheless. As the man in Mark 5 lived among the tombs—the physically dead, most of the women I work with have lived almost exclusively among the spiritually dead. As the Gadarene was often bound with shackles and chains, the women I work with live with shackles and chains of a different sort. They desperately want to be free, but they are helpless to free themselves. I work with women in addiction.
For the past ten years as I have listened to their dreadful stories, I have come to realize that if I had grown up like many of them, I would have made the same bad decisions. While my home showed me Jesus and functional living, their homes were full of such spiritual darkness and dysfunction that it set them on a trajectory of destructive choices. Some of the women I work with have been trafficked, others have prostituted themselves, many are felons, and some are currently incarcerated. Their drug use is a desperate attempt to get relief from the emotional pain in which they live. But the drug-induced relief is a temporary fix that leads them ever deeper into their abyss. They need Jesus. Only Jesus can give them the long-lasting relief they crave.
It took the power of the glorious gospel to set the man in Mark five free from his demons. And it takes the gospel to set these women free from their demons as well. Over the past ten years as I have shared the message of hope and deliverance with the women I meet, I have seen countless lives radically transformed. As their lives are transformed, they become law abiding citizens, they find jobs to support themselves, and many of them have had their families restored. Their new life in Christ is what they have longed for their whole lives—yet never knew it could exist.
One day as I was teaching in a substance abuse rehab, one of the ladies in the class said, “Sherry, the first 3 to 4 weeks you taught this class I thought you were high.” I was flabbergasted! Me—high? She then explained that in the drug culture in which she grew up, most people are discouraged, depressed and defeated. The only time they feel happy is when they are on a drug-induced happy. But she was finally starting to understand that Christians have a Jesus-enabled happy—not a drug-induced one. She said to me, “Sherry, I had no idea a world like this existed!” Tragically, there are millions more in our world who, like Amy, have no idea a world like ours exists.
Amy has been clean, sober and passionately walking the Christ-life for two years now. She told me recently that she wakes up every day absolutely euphoric because of the freedom she feels in Christ. She is no longer enslaved to frantically finding the next fix just to survive the darkness in which she once lived. Through the power of the glorious gospel, she has been delivered from the darkness of her past and now lives in the glorious light of God’s kingdom. That is indeed something to be euphoric about!
Another friend, Jane, is a ten-time felon. She spent nearly twenty years in addiction and promiscuous living. But God had great plans for Jane. He providentially orchestrated her “sentence” in a Christian substance abuse rehab. There she heard the life transforming message of the gospel and became a daughter of the High King! Jane has been clean, sober, and passionately walking the Christ-life for three years now. She has been granted custody of her three children and is now happily married. Her husband, also a transformed addict, is serving Jesus in full-time Christian ministry.
Jane recently wrote in a Facebook post, “It's a beautiful morning! As I sit on my porch this morning drinking my coffee, I am THANKFUL! I remember BELIEVING that my life would forever be hopeless and that I would be a lost cause or dead by now. What a dreadful place that was! Today I am hopeful for the future, ALIVE and FREE. My life is not perfect...but it is! I have Jesus! And He loves me! He knows the wickedness in my heart and HE LOVES ME UNCONDITIONALLY! No matter what happens in my life nothing is as bad as not knowing Jesus. Without Him, and His love and sacrifice for me, I would not be able to smile today. I never want to forget that pit I was in, or my life before Jesus rescued me. It keeps me grounded and thankful.”
Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” When I initially meet my friends, they are beaten down, defeated and destitute of hope. They so badly need the good news of Jesus and His power to transform lives. Those who repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Savior become totally different people—they become new creatures in Christ. As they begin to grow spiritually, everything about them changes. They are often stunned to find a life they knew nothing about. A life of transformation and freedom. A life of boldness because God has taken them out of the miry clay and set their feet on a rock.
A wise theologian once said, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Pro 13:20). There are so many in our world who desperately need a child of the High King to come alongside them, to share the glorious message of the gospel with them—to walk life with them.
It is amazing that God chooses to work through His people to break the chains of darkness and transfer the lost and hurting into His marvelous light!
John Allen Chau was a young American who was determined to reach the Sentinelese people with the Gospel. He worked hard to prepare himself for an initial encounter with this tribal group. Unfortunately, in the providence of God, his attempt to communicate the love of God with this fierce and isolated tribe ended when he was killed by them last month. Like other missionary martyrs who have preceded him, John Chau placed his passion for making Christ known above his own safety. This month we are letting John speak from the grave by sharing excerpts from his journal in the days before his murder.
“I’ve been in a safe house in Port Blair since returning from Hut Bay, Little Andaman for the past eleven days!”
“Being stuck in the safe house meant that I hadn’t seen any full sunlight till today…the benefit is that I was essentially in quarantine.”
“[British Colonialists] failed to be a blessing to the nations and rejected the commands of Jesus.”
“The meeting [with fishermen] went well – I trust, although I am the only English speaker so there is quite a language gap; I am relying on the holy spirit to direct us.”
“Remember, the first one to heaven wins.”
“God, I thank you for choosing me, before I was even yet formed in my mother’s womb, to be Your messenger of Your Good news to the people of North Sentinel Island.”
“Even my heritage points to you – me, an American citizen, part Irish, part Native American (Choctaw), part African, and part Chinese and southeast Asian – thank You Father for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be Your ambassador.”
“Please continue to keep all of us indeed hidden from the physical and spiritual forces who desire to keep the people here in darkness. Holy Spirit please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in your hands, O Father, so into Your hands I commit my Spirit.”
“His plan will succeed and I pray that not my will nor my plan be done but only His good, pleasing and perfect will. Forever You Jesus, are to be praised.”
“Left last night around 2000 and arrived around 2230 or so but as we went north along the eastern shore, we saw boat lights in distance along the north shore and turned around. Headed south along the eastern shore and evaded them, went along the southern shore and up along the western shore. All along the way, our boat was highlighted by bioluminescent planktons – and as fish jumped nearby, we could see their line darting mermaids shimmering along. The Milky Way was above and God himself was shielding us from the coast guard and navy patrols.”
“One blocked while other waded along the coast, then little third with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that this was it.”
“They had two arrows each, unstrung, until they got closer.”
“…well built with a round face one fly on right face cheek and yellowish pigment in circles on his cheeks and about 5ft 5”.”
“[I] disembarked my kayak to show them that I too have two legs.”
“My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ gave me authority to come to you. Here is some fish!”
“I regret I began to panic slightly as I saw them string arrows in their bows. He threw the fish toward them, but the men kept running and were almost within arrow range.”
“I stumbled back and recall yelling at the kid for shooting me – now as I look back at it, my Bible cover looks like bark – like tree bark, so maybe he was just curious but yikes, it sure gave me a fright.”
“I turned and paddled like I never have in my life back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed they didn’t accept me right away. I can now say I’ve been nearly shot by the Sentinelese.”
“They burst out laughing most of the time, so they probably were saying bad words or insulting me. They were also yelling into the forest behind the hut.”
“I couldn’t tell if they were truly unarmed or not. So still I got a safe distance away and dropped off the fish and gifts and at first they poled their dugout past the gifts and were coming at me, then they turned and grabbed the gifts.”
“Then the little kid with bow and arrow came down the middle and I figured that was it.”
“The little man shot me with an arrow – directly into my Bible which I was holding off my chest. I grabbed the arrow shaft in front it broke in my Bible (on pg 433 Isaiah 63:5-65:2) and felt the arrowhead. It was metal, thin but very sharp.”
“I saw the boat with figures with their arms up waving and I thought briefly that another group of Sentinelese had attacked the boat while they were watching me but thank God that wasn’t the case. Although I now have no kayak, or my small pelican and its contents, I’m grateful that I still have the written word of God.”
“I’m scared… There, I said it…also frustrated and uncertain – is it worth me going on feet to meet them?”
“Lord… if you want me to get actually shot or even killed with an arrow, then so be it. I think I could be more useful alive though, but to you, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens. I DON’T WANT to DIE! Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else continue? No. I don’t think so – I’m stuck here anyway without a passport and have been off the grid. I still could make it back to the US somehow as it almost seems like certain death to stay here. Yet there is evidenced change in just two encounters in a single day. Will try again tomorrow.”
“Watching the sunset and its beautiful – crying a bit… wondering if it’ll be the last sunset I see before being in the place where the sun never sets…”
“God, I don’t want to die. Who will take my place if I do? Oh God, I miss my parents, my mom and my dad… I’ve never felt this much grief or sorrow before. WHY! Why did a little kid have to shoot me today? His high pitched voice still lingers in my head. Father, forgive him and any of the people on this island who try to kill me, and especially forgive them if they succeed.”
“What made them become this defensive and hostile? Legends passed down through the millennia of their escape from a slave ship? Why does this beautiful place have to have so much death here?”
“Last night, I had what I’d call a vision as I’ve never had one before – my eyes were shut but I wasn’t asleep and I saw a purple hue over an island-like city as a meteorite or star fell to it and it was a frightening city with jagged spires and I felt distressed. Then a different light, a whitish light filled it and all the frightening bits melted away.”
“Lord is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had a chance to hear your name?”
“Lord strengthen me as I need your strength and protection and guidance and all that you give and are. Whoever comes after me to take my place, whether it’s after tomorrow or another time, please give them a double anointing and bless them mightily.”
“If it goes badly on foot the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death.”
“Perfect LOVE casts out fear. LORD Jesus, fill me with your perfect love for these people!”
“Woke up after a fairly restful sleep, heading to island now. I hope this isn’t my last notes but if it is, to God be the glory.”
“You guys might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God If I get killed – rather, please live your lives in obedience to whatever he has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil. Don’t retrieve my body. This is not a pointless thing – the eternal lives of this tribe is at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states.”
“I pray that you will never love anything in this world more than you love Christ.”
“Soli Deo Gloria, John Chau”
Mr. Mark Vowels, CGO Director
In just a few weeks, the long-anticipated Christmas break will be upon us and students and staff will scatter to the ends of the earth. We don’t do this anymore at BJU, but in past years Christmas break officially began following a special chapel. The service was usually pretty brief because everyone was in a hurry to go. Cars would be packed, students would be on the edge of their seats, and as soon as the “Amen” was pronounced there was a race to get off campus as quickly as possible. Getting a parking space for your fully packed car right in front of the FMA was considered a big win! I am not pining for a return to that routine, but I do recall fondly the excitement that filled the auditorium during that last chapel service. I used to say, “If we could gather the electricity in the air and contain it, we could use it to power the campus for the entire second semester!”
However your Christmas break begins and whatever plans you have laid, I’m sure you are eager for those days to get here. Mom’s cooking, late mornings, Netflix binges, and holiday treats are on the horizon! But can I encourage you to also think ahead about how you can invest in eternity over the Christmas break? Here are a few suggestions.
Start with Prayer
First, start with prayer. Ask God to overwhelm you with the reality that Jesus became a man so that men could know Him and live with Him eternally. Ask Him to give you an eagerness to tell others about Emmanuel – “God with us.” There are no treasures or trinkets that compare to this hope - Jesus came into the world to save sinners. You will not be a witness to this marvelous truth until it first becomes marvelous in your own soul. Ask God to give you daily opportunities to speak with someone about the meaning of Christmas and then look for those opportunities as you go through your day.
Start Gospel Conversations
The Christmas season may be the easiest time of the year to engage in gospel conversations. Look for opportunities to start conversations about Emmanuel. As you go shopping, ask the cashiers or others in line, “What is your favorite thing about Christmas?” Listen kindly to whatever they say, then offer, “For me, the best part of Christmas is Emmanuel. God became a man so that we could know Him and have eternal life.” People’s response may not always be friendly, but most folks are not offended when you remind them that Christmas is nothing without Christ.
Speak with Your Pastor
Call or email your pastor now – today – and offer to do whatever you can to serve the church and help with outreach during your time at home. He will be delighted! In some cases, your pastor will immediately give you a list of opportunities. In other cases, he may need a few days to think about it and check with some others in the church. Every church and every pastor are different, but whatever he asks of you, do your best to serve, even if it isn’t what you most want to do. One of the greatest ways to grow a servant’s heart and to gain useful ministry experience is to get engaged in a variety of church activities. Don’t get the idea that any service is beneath you now that you are a college student. Remember, what Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant his lord” (Matthew 10:25).
Maybe you can offer to substitute for a nursery worker or a Sunday school teacher so that he or she can enjoy church services with family during the holidays. Maybe there is a physical work around the facility that needs to be done. Maybe there are hospital visits that you can make. When it comes to ways to serve the local church, seek and you shall find!
Speak with Your Youth Pastor
If your church has a youth pastor, connect with him as well and offer to serve the youth group while you are home. Hearing from someone in college may mean a lot to the teens in your church. Just being there and sharing in youth group activities will be a great encouragement to the youth pastor. Even better, invite him to coffee or lunch and tell him how God is working in you through your experience as a BJU student. That will make his day!
Find Ways to Serve
Some other miscellaneous ideas that you might try include making some Christmas cookies and taking them to your neighbors along with a Christmas card that includes a gospel tract. Try to start an “Emmanuel” conversation as well.
Go downtown in your city with family or some friends from church and sing Christmas carols (depending on your city you may need to get permission), then pass out gospel tracts and seek to have gospel conversations.
Go to a senior care facility in your neighborhood and use your musical talents to lead the residents in singing Christmas carols. Then just sit with them and listen to their stories about past Christmases and look for opportunities to share Jesus with them.
If you have elderly or disabled people in your church or in your neighborhood, offer to do some housework for them or offer to help them put up some Christmas decorations. While you are helping them, seek to have a conversation about Jesus.
Post a Comment
Post a comment and let me and others know what you have done in the past that has been a blessing or what you plan to do during this Christmas break to invest in eternity.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.