A Coward for God

Thanks for joining us today for our discussion of Chapter 2 of Rich Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel. Jason (my co-facilitator and friend) and I welcome you to stick around and chat, whether you’ve read the book or not. We welcome your thoughts on the matter! When you get done reading and commenting here, please head over to Jason’s site and read his thoughts. Also, at the end of the post, you’ll find a widget. If you’ve written your own response to this chapter at your own site, make sure to link up below. If you haven’t got a link to share, please go read the other links that you find there. They are always amazing! We’ve got quite a wonderful group here!

So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Chapter 2 – A Coward for God

Several years ago, while I was in college and before I started working in ministry or hanging out in the mission field, I heard my friend, Ken Helser, tell a story. Anyone that knows Ken knows that he’s a story teller. But this was a true story. And of all the stories he’s told, this one particularly captivated me.

There’s an epidemic happening all around us. And it’s one that polite society doesn’t like to talk about. It’s one that when it is discussed, we squirm in our chairs and when the pictures come on TV or we see them in magazines or our computer screens, we avert our eyes and move quickly on so that we don’t have to be faced with it or reminded of it. And that epidemic is human trafficking.

It happens all over the world—including America. But when Ken told the story, he talked specifically about Southeast Asia—which is arguably the area with the largest amount of trafficking in the world. In that part of the world, there’s desperate poverty. Families tend to be large and the more children they have, the harder it is to feed them all. And in some of these places, parents will sell one child in order to have money to feed the others. Girls especially—five years old, six years old, seven years old—are sold to men who use them as sex slaves. There is no escape and likely, they will die and die young in this captivity.

I have never heard of anything more heartbreaking, infuriating, and nauseating. What horrific depravity and darkness!

But into this darkness, God is sending a light.

Through a friend of his, Ken got to speak to a group of young people—kids in their late teens and twenties—that go into these places and buy the girls out of slavery. It’s a risky business. And these kids know that if they get caught, they will probably die.

But they go anyway. And lives are being saved.

I have a hard time hearing this story for more reasons than one. I mean, there’s the obvious reason that it’s painful to hear about these kinds of atrocities. But another reason is that it reminds me that in a world where this is happening, these kids are willing to lay down their lives while I sit in my comfy house, watching satellite television with a full belly.

I am safe, while others are dying to save lives.

Philippians 1:21 says that to live is Christ and to die is to gain. This goes right along with what Richard Stearns talks about in Chapter 2 of The Hole in Our Gospel.

We’ve spent all of these weeks discussing other books and one thing that’s been abundantly clear through all of the discussion is that the key to everything is relationship with Christ. Stearns takes us back to that foundation that we’ve been building and seals it for us.

When I was in college, I had an English professor that taught us this very same catechism lesson that Stearns discusses here. That five minute lesson in my World Lit class has stuck with me all of this time and so it especially resounded when I read it here.

Why did God make me?

To love, serve, and obey Him…

That’s my calling. Those are my marching orders. They should be my agenda.

In this chapter, Stearns tells his story. He tells of coming to Christ and committing to be a Christ follower in deed and not just in name only. But he also tells the reality of life that drew him into “the box.” And we have all been there. It’s really easy to serve Jesus when you’re comfortable and safe, but God called Rich Stearns out of the box and He’s calling us out of the box, too.

How do I know?

Because I’m writing this and you’re reading it. We’re here in this place together and this is the message that God has for us today.

He’s calling us to come out…

Maybe not to Southeast Asia, but out nonetheless.

Just across the street…

Or across the aisle at church…

Or across the railroad tracks…

It all comes down to one question: Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Good thoughts Sarah. Interesting how different views see a chapter differently. Your challenge though is so real: am I willing to be open to God’s will for my life? I want to say “Yes” but know that even as i say it I will sometimes struggle with submission.

  2. The last question is tough…but it is something that we should answer honestly.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Bill, even as I was preparing this post, I had to read John 6 to prepare for a Bible study. John 6 is so meaningful to me. All these people are following Jesus… clamoring to see what he can do for them. (My friend, Rick, calls it the “happy meal trail.”) And at the end of the happy meal trail when he’s done all of these signs and wonders and he’s fed them at the all-you-can-eat fish-and-chips buffet, when he tells them the cost of their discipleship, they turn tail and run. But my favorite part is when Jesus turns to The Twelve and says, “So, are you gonna go, too?” And Peter looks at him and says, “Where would we go? Only you have the words of life.” And that’s my challenge every day. He’s got a will for me that he’s called me to. And sometimes, that will is very hard. But I can’t run away. Where would I go? I can only find life in him.

  4. I cannot imagine the depth of despair one would have to be in to sell their child into anything. We work so hard in this country to protect our children and keep them out of these situations.

    Great post, Sarah. Thanks for the challenge.

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Ginny, sadly, it happens in this country, too. Just in the last couple of years, in the county just east of me, there was a little girl that went missing. BEAUTIFUL girl. Less than five years old. The police began to investigate and found hotel surveilance video of the little girl with a man that looked suspisciously like the mother’s boyfriend. Within days, the girl was found dead on the side of the road. The autopsy found evidence of sexual assault. And when the trial happened, the truth came out that the mother had sold the child as a sex slave to the boyfriend in exchange for drugs.

    We want to believe that it’s everywhere else and that there’s nothing we can do about it. But neither of those things is true. It’s not just “out there.” It’s here. And there is something we can do. We can care. We can educate. We can get into others’ lives and others’ business. And we can pray.

  6. I recently read a story of a woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan who was forced into the sex trade while she was in high school. You can see the article here: http://www.mlive.com/living/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/09/human_trafficking_exploitation.html

    The questions and the answers to “Why did God make me?” and “Will you be open to God’s will for your life?” are working on me this week. I definitely need some re-prioritization in my living.

    Thanks Sarah! Great post.

  7. Papa Bear (The Preacher) says:

    Thanks Sarah and Jason for putting this book on our radar. I would not have run out and bought this book on my own. As I have read this book, I have been more keenly reminded that God’s call on my life is about HIM–not me. The needs of the world begin at our own back door. Right across the street from our church is an apartment complex where drugs are sold, prostitution is going on and children of all ages are neglected. We (our church family) are afraid for the most part to get our hands dirty. Recently, a lady from the apartments came to see me about using my truck (I have a red 1999 Chevy truck) to move some furniture for her and the two children. She was being evicted because she could not afford to pay her rent. I could have used all kinds of excuses, but my spirit was moved to see her as “my neighbor.” I got one of our young men and we went and moved two mattresses and two dressers and several boxes. I could see evidence of filth, roaches, bed bugs and other trash. We moved this for her to her mother’s house. When we finished unloading this stuff, she wanted to know how much she owed us, I explained, “we are your neighbors and if you need us all you have to do is call us.” I’m not sure how some in my church would have approached that, but I know some of us really are about loving, serving and obeying God. Forgive us when we fail to do that.

    I’ve been a coward for God in the past, and it has deeply hurt me when I realized how I had failed to show His love to others just as others had shown His love to me. Just this past Tuesday, eight of us from the church when to the Good Shepherd Kitchen (our community homeless shelter) to prepare and serve lunch. I didn’t get to preach to them or even really interact with these people. We went to feed them. 189 persons were fed lunch because someone cared. Thanks for helping us hear God’s call to fill the hole in the gospel.

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Dusty, thanks for that link. When I think I can stomach the story, I’ll definitely to read it. And yes, I definitely believe that God is shaking us up.

    Daddy, I’m proud of you! (I know that’s not why you did it… But still…) Times past, when I’ve gotten myself into scenarios with getting my hands dirty, I know that you’ve worried about me. So, to see you cross that street into those old apartments and show the love of Jesus to somebody… GO DAD! :)

  9. You provided few details in your story, but I still audibly groaned reading about the sex trafficking. To think that someone my daughter’s age, a beautiful little girl who should be playing and laughing… it just hurts me so much. I have to move on or I’m going to start weeping at my desk.

    My heart’s cry this morning is “I want out of the box!” Even though the world may not recognize it, they also cry and need us out of the box. It’s just time. Thanks Sarah.

  10. It is heartbreaking to think about what those children go through.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason & Helen- when you start looking at the children you know, it hurts all the more, doesn’t it? But the saddest thing is that every one of these little children is a child that God created. I can’t begin to even imagine the pain that His heart suffers, watching His children in this bondage. It makes me all the more passionate to be His hands and feet. It makes the need seem a million times more urgent. It makes “the box” seem like the worst, most evil place in the world to be.

  12. Sarah,

    Very compelling thoughts. The question I am led to ask myself is this: “if more of us, called by His name, would be willing to step out JUST where we are – what would the impact be?” then I have to replace “more of us” to “me” and rephrase the question. Sometimes we look at the problems of depravity in this world and get so discouraged- what could we possibly do to fix all of that? Alone, we can do nothing – but together, each of our little dents in the problem amount to break throughs.

  13. Sarah Salter says:

    Herb, I love what you’re saying here! A couple of things come to mind. First, I have an uncle who is a pastor. He once told me about how early in his ministry, he realized that he can’t be everything for everybody. He can’t fix everybody or be everywhere or do it all by himself. So, he said that he had learned to periodically pray that God would show him which things/people/projects to focus on at any given time. When he’s obedient to those specific things that God would have him to do, then it strengthens the whole. Second, I remembered how in the Congo with our medical team, we could only see a few hundred patients a day. And in a city of nearly 10 million people, that doesn’t add up to much compared to the need. But to those few hundred, it meant everything. I love your comment: “Alone, we can do nothing–but together, each of our little dents in the problem amount to breakthroughs!”

  14. hmm, I think I’ll tweet that comment… 😀

  15. “That’s my calling. Those are my marching orders. They should be my agenda.”

    Amen…and Amen

    Thanks Sarah!

  16. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Jay! I always love getting “shouted down” by my brothers! AMEN! :)

  17. Amen Sarah. May we hear and respond to His call. May we ache ever more to hear the beat of His heart.

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