January 03, 2017
Sparkles of Grace in the Midst of Tragedy
Post by Brittany Tedesco
A few years ago, a young Muslim couple fled Syria with their small children to a tent camp in Turkey. As if the event wasn't traumatic enough, somehow a pot of boiling soup overturned onto their infant daughter, severely burning most of her body.
Heartbroken, her father used the last of his money on transportation to hospitals and doctors' offices to beg for free medical help. No one obliged. For the past several years, the little girl's mother has rubbed salve on her daughter's scarred skin three times a day.
We learned about this story through a ministry leader in Turkey who visits the refugee camp where the family lives.
With all the heartbreak and suffering in the Middle East, it's easy for me to view the region as one big, godforsaken nightmare. But God hasn't forsaken the people who live there.
You and I have watched a tragedy unfold from afar, but we don't see what's happening on the ground, on a personal level.
God is visiting people in the midst of their tragedy—just like He visited Job in the midst of his tragedy. He talked with Job about His sovereignty over all things...even the fire-breathing dragon He created (Job 41).
God reminds Job that no man is able to tame the impressive, terrible beast. While it was entirely outside the control of mankind, however, it bowed before God's authority.
No tragedy is outside of God's control. Demonstrations of His grace are breaking through the darkness, like starbursts in a black sky.
Thanks to gifts from Christian Aid Mission supporters, the burned girl is scheduled to receive medical care. She will undergo multiple surgeries over a six-month period, and then begin physical therapy. "On hearing that money had been given for her treatment, her mother and father couldn't hold back their tears," wrote the ministry leader. "No Muslims extended a helping hand to them."
Another ministry leader in war-torn Syria reported: "God has given our church the opportunity to provide love to the needy. People compare the fruits of the work of Christians to the works of others. There is a big difference between the offers of love we show and the hatred and death shown by others."
He continued: "The war and crisis have changed us a lot...there is a lot in the Bible that deals with crisis—the Psalms, Job, Nehemiah, Daniel, Esther, and Acts. These books all talk about how God works in the middle of a crisis."
In Turkey, an indigenous ministry that we assist apprehensively prepared for their Christmas celebration. Despite rumors that ISIS was planning attacks on churches during the Christmas season, the ministry held a holiday meal for its 60+ church members.
Hundreds showed up to hear the gospel preached. Afterward, a young woman approached the leader in tears. She wanted to give her life to Christ. Four months ago, she had listened to some of the leader's sermons online and stopped by the church for a free copy of the New Testament. "On Christmas day, I went out intending to meet some of my friends," she told the leader. "I don't really know how and why I came to your church. In fact, I don't know who brought me here. It was as if a voice told me to enter and I entered."
We received another account from a native missionary who was arrested in a radical Islamic region in the Middle East.
"One night, at about 2 a.m., I was being aggressively questioned and accosted when the interrogation was interrupted by a phone call," the missionary reported. "An hour later an interrogator returned...he asked me a question: 'We have information that you visit Muslim families, tell them about your Jesus Christ, and pray for them. Is this information true? Yes or no."
Knowing that he was admitting to an illegal act, the believer answered that the information was true. He reported: "Suddenly, the interrogator sat on the floor in front of me and said: 'Do not be afraid, I just want your help. My mother has a rare disease and her situation is getting worse. You can help me by praying for her. I assure you that I'm going to set you free and that no one will harm you.'"
For the next four hours, the native missionary shared with the man about the redemption of Christ and the good news of the gospel. At around 7:00 in the morning, the man left briefly and returned with tea, bread, and olive oil—a customary breakfast in the region. "Help me to believe in Jesus, for I have never heard anything like this in my life," the man said.
Wrote the missionary: "Later, he phoned me to tell me that his mother had been totally healed during the night."
God brought tragedy into Job's life, and it was beyond Job's understanding. Job had lived a morally good and upright life. He'd followed the formula for God to bless him...but God, he soon learned, cannot be controlled through formulas.
Eventually, God restored to Job everything and more that He'd taken away—and Job walked away with a new understanding about God. The tragedy changed him.
The tragedy is changing so many people.