Acts 18:9 (NIV)
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
Acts 27:23-26 (NIV)
"Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar."
Don't let fear stop you from doing what God's called you to do!
Yesterday, we began telling you about a secret training mission in communist-era Poland; here's another story about it to encourage you:
Allan and Pam Gardner, their son Scott, and some young people from a church in Austria had safely found their rendezvous point with Polish pastor Zbigniew Chojnacki deep in the forest of north-western Poland, out of sight of the communists who didn't permit Christians to gather for training.
However, the training site was located in an area that was affected by the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine in 1986. Other mission groups cancelled their proposed visits to Poland that year. However, the group from Austria had decided to go despite being aware of the danger. Water from a nearby lake was used for cooking, drinking, and bathing although they had been cautioned by local residents, "Some dogs have died because of the radiation." Although the Austrian group spent a week in that area, they suffered no ill effects later from the radiation.
In spite of the nuclear menace, the group enjoyed a wonderful week of fellowship and teaching deep in the forest where they could be free to share the joy of their faith together. Pam Gardner especially remembers a young, blond pastor, about 20 years old, sitting on a log with a funny hat, playing the guitar. Recently, she saw his picture again, this time in a group of what was captioned `outstanding pastors in Poland today'. The time deep in the forest was a great investment in future productivity in the church.
The Apostle Paul faced many difficult and dangerous situations as he followed God's call, but he followed faithfully. The Austrian group was also dedicated to following faithfully, even in the face of danger. In the long run (which is the way God sees things), would it have made most sense to stay away from an area recently contaminated by radiation, or to respond to God's call to train young believers even though there might be a risk of cancer? The sensible human response is to avoid possible danger or discomfort. What should we be most afraid of: outward danger, or not responding to God's call?
The game-changer, of course, is "God's call." He expects us to use common sense, UNLESS He clearly indicates an uncommon course of action. However, so often we don't actively listen to hear whether He wants us to step out of our comfortable surroundings, missing the wonderful results that Lord wanted to bring out of our obedience. Will you ask Him today if there is something He has for you to do that might naturally unsettle you? Will you receive courage from Him by faith?
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