There was an arrest earlier this year in the Dayton, Ohio area that grabbed my attention. A father told a local radio station that his four children (ages 11 to 15) were celebrating the oldest child’s birthday at home while their parents were at work when a man tried to break into the house. In the midst of their fear, they called 911, but when the suspect broke a window to enter the home, the father said that the kids “screamed and ran and hid in the closet.”
They needed help quickly. The police were yet to arrive and the kids couldn’t plan on their father to save the day. However, help would come, but it was in the form of the heroic older brother who stepped in to protect his siblings at his own party.
According to the father, the young man “grabbed a samurai sword and ran after the guy.” The suspect fled, was later identified, and arrested. The dad shared how concerned he was over the well-being of his children, but his son did what he had to do to make his father proud and accomplished the necessary task at hand as time was running out.
This reminds me of a discussion on prayer with the young adults recently. As the night’s dialogue was coming to a close, we fleshed out that prayer reminds us that Christians are agents of change in the world. Where it can be so easy to pray that God will miraculously change everything around us while we sit comfortably in our homes, we should feel a sense of invigoration when we recognize that He has put us here in this world to be His hands and feet (Ephesians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Isaiah 52:7) and to help His will to come about.
Do we stop praying? Never. But as we pray that His will come about in the world, we’re often times in a great position to help. That’s where my mind went when I read of this arrest in Dayton. The older brother did not sit and say to his siblings “our dad is our protector, we know he’ll take care of things,” while horrible things ensued in the meantime. Instead, he stepped into the role of protector because he knew his dad would want that.
I’ve watched a Youtube video where a car was overturned on the side of the road with flames beginning to appear at the front of the vehicle and a collection of people stood off camera while they prayed that God would save the people’s lives who were stuck in the car. I venture to believe that God may have placed those people in that exact spot to save those lives.
As we pray for persecuted Christians around the globe and that refugees would find protection from their dehumanizing circumstances, there are so many other ways that affluent American Christians can get involved to uphold their God-given dignity.
Sometimes we pray about the disunity in our communities over politics and yet, at times, we might find our voices are the loudest to demean and devalue the lives of others.
We pray against harmful ideologies in school systems around us so that we might protect our children, but I wonder if we, as Christians who know the love of God in real and transformative ways, might actually be able to speak Gospel truth and conviction into the lives of those pushing for the change. If we did this with compassion, grace, and love rather than seeing them as enemies to be defeated, what transformation might occur?
Our church is one that believes wholeheartedly that God can “do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,” but this is “according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20 – emphasis added). So often, He is accomplishing astonishing things around us for His glory and it’s our honor to be used by Him to do so.
When we’re abiding in Him and He abides in us – when we’re locked in step with His will – He has this message for us: “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13).
When our prayers are met with our imitation of Christ’s incarnation – His choice to be among those who opposed Him and show love as He drew them in – then we can ask for Him to do incredible things around us and I believe they will be accomplished. So let’s do all we can to be incarnate in our communities, carry out the Great Commission, and draw those around us into His love. When we seek Him first, may all those other concerns of ours be added to us as well (Matthew 6:33).
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff