Our teams have known the frustration of having willing hearts eager to serve held back by the restraints of international public health regulations and the laws that govern use of donor funds entrusted to us.
Like everyone else, we long for freedom to travel and meet family and friends without masks. Yet, we face winter, and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Canada and around the world. We are winding down 2020 with “pandemic fatigue”.
We feel hemmed in, but not confined.
At a time when it is fashionable to have “resilience” so you can “pivot” because you are “agile”, we are learning from the scriptures that though the horse may be ready for battle, victory depends on God.1
This was the message of Zechariah to the leaders of Israel when their temple reconstruction project had stalled. The people had returned from exile eager to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, but soon obstacles arose. God called those obstacles mountains and promised to overcome them, His Spirit would win the day then and for eternity, Zechariah 4:6-10.
The temple reconstruction project was a disappointment to some, it looked so small2 and the task so daunting. However, they would finish the project under Zerubbabel’s leadership. And God would be pleased with it. God who always keeps His promises had said they would finish the task. It was an important prelude to the coming of the Messiah.3
Atonement was on the way, a fountain for the cleansing of sin would be opened in Jerusalem.4
That grand scheme of God’s notwithstanding, Zerubbabel and his compatriot Joshua faced down-to-earth problems, enemies had written to the colonial authorities. Reconstruction stopped by royal decree until further notice, and the people became discouraged, and shifted attention to rebuilding their own houses.
Zerubbabel needed to hear that God’s program was not confined by the restraining orders from King Artaxerxes. When Haggai and Zechariah stepped into the scene with words to that effect, the people realized they were working for the “God of heaven and earth”.
Our challenge today is how to keep the fires of hope alive during this seemingly interminable season of mission inactivity, keeping volunteers engaged when there is no where to go. We are deeply concerned for those who depend on us for healthcare and education.
And though we are hemmed in for now, we are not confined.
Our hope brightens when we realize that at the heart of EMAS’ Vision Christ-centered healthcare teams proclaiming God’s love to all the world through teaching and healing, is the same message Zechariah had for the Jews and the world of his day and today. 5
We are keeping the lights on. Teams are meeting. We are planning missions for 2021.
Contact me for 2021 teaching opportunities in Asia, D R Congo, and Ghana; and for medical aid and development in Haiti, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe.
1. Proverbs 21:31
2. Haggai 2:2-3, Ezra 3:11-13, Zechariah 4:10
3. Zechariah 9:9-11
4. Zechariah 12:8-10, Zechariah 13:1
5. Zechariah 2:10-13, 8:20-23
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
Feature image: Photo by Christopher Carson, Unsplash