“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us and his teaching in our past history” (Life Sketches, 196).
With all the suffering and uncertainty in this world, how is it possible that forgetting God’s past leading is the only thing to fear? I have wrestled with that question. Fear of the unknown seems reasonable when waiting for test results to find out if the cancer has returned, or when children have just learned the doctors can do nothing else to save their father. When death, sickness and heartache are the realities of this world, what is God asking of us?
In Heb. 13:8, we are told that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (NLT). That means something! He was, He is and He will forever be. In Rev. 22:13 God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (NLT). These verses are not mere acknowledgments of who God is. Rather, they tell us something deeper and more personal. We can acknowledge there is a God; the Devil himself acknowledges that. But do we believe He is the answer? Do we believe He knows and understands? Do we believe He is faithful? If so, then maybe when faced with the uncertainties of life God is asking us to remember. To remember Him when we face the unknown. To recall His mercies when doubt and fear overwhelm us. There is real pain, real suffering and real questions that are too much for us to handle on our own. And by the grace of God, He does not ask us to!
Doors of friendship
Last year I had the opportunity to share with OUTLOOK readers a testimony of how God opened the door for me to move into downtown Kansas City. My prayer was that God would open doors of friendship and that His love could be shared with those around me. The apartment complex I live in and the surrounding neighborhoods are packed with people from all over the world. Living amongst different cultures, languages and beliefs I have found value in spending time with others and listening to their stories. Many of my neighbors are Bhutanese refugees from Nepal. They have come from a war-torn country, suffered persecution and have survived harsh living conditions in refugee camps. Now in the United States they are attempting to build new lives. Although we met as strangers, we soon became friends and can now call each other family.
As friendships developed with my neighbors, it quickly became evident that God was opening doors to work with the Nepali children. When someone suggested we start a Pathfinder club, however, I found myself letting fear of the unknown get in the way. I immediately thought of all the reasons why it could not be done. I knew nothing about leading a Pathfinder club, after all.
Then one day my mom sent me information about an upcoming “Soccer Camp” Vacation Bible School at the West Lenexa Church. Nepali children love soccer, but I quickly dismissed the idea. How would we transport all these kids to a church half an hour away? But God provided a bus and a driver, and 40 kids from my neighborhood attended a week-long VBS. They were thrilled and by the end of the week were asking, “Can we do it again?”
We began meeting every week to play soccer and continue learning stories from the Bible. Pastors from different parts of Iowa and Missouri came to play with the kids and tell the stories.
As the summer came to an end, it became clear that starting a Pathfinder club was the next step. But how? Where would we meet? Who would lead? Where would the money come from? Would the parents allow it? How would we get the kids there?
A good place to start
There were so many questions without answers, but God was up to the challenge. He provided a way. All He needed was for us to be willing. The Chapel Oaks Pathfinder club from Shawnee, Kansas, donated funds to buy club shirts. Then I met Anne Wham, a retired conference Pathfinder director. She had heard about our desire to start a club and asked where we were in the process. Not knowing what to say, I blurted out, “We have the kids, and that’s about it.”
I will never forget her response. She looked at me and simply said, “Well, that’s a good place to start.” She offered to help, so we exchanged phone numbers and planning began. God also moved on the hearts of five men from surrounding churches—Charlie Kendall, Kurtis Cowan, Jesus Valenzuela, Emmanuel Valenzuela and Samuel Tapia—to serve as club staff.
Doors continued to open. Parents gave permission, funding became available and nearby St. Luke’s Lutheran Church agreed to let us use their facility at no cost. At just the right time and when we needed it most, churches from Kansas, Iowa and Missouri provided Bibles, flags, banners, shirts and transportation (including drivers, a donated van and a trailer full of Pathfinder supplies). We thought we would start the year with 20 Pathfinders, but God surprised us with 36!
I give glory to God as I watch these children grow and develop a desire to make a difference in their community. Life in the inner city is filled with violence, drugs, gangs and crime. Our Pathfinders gave themselves the name NC4Y (New Change for Youth). They want something different.
When asked the question, “What do you like about Pathfinders?” one said, “When I am here, I feel strong enough to keep my hopes.” Another said, “I like Pathfinders because we learn how God can help us when we need it.”
My heart rejoices as I reflect on God’s faithfulness throughout this past year.
Facing life’s challenges together
The refugees in my community face many fears, but they are not the only ones. There are people in your community—broken families, orphans, struggling students, single parents, widows and many others—who are dealing with their own struggles and fears. But they don’t have to face them alone. God can use you and me, even in our brokenness, to make a positive difference. I encourage you to get to know your neighbors. Hear their stories. Share your own. And most of all, take time to remember how God has blessed along the way.