With Healing in His Wings

Guest post by John Adams.

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While visiting Haiti several years ago, on a sleepless night, I heard a sound that made my skin crawl — the sound of cruel laughter and jeering mingled with angry, accusatory shouts coming from beyond the wall around my parents’ house. The mob dispersed and the sound dissipated in less than ten minutes, but on the way into work the next morning, our groundskeeper found a young man’s body sprawled in the street. Someone had accused the young man of being a thief, a mob had gathered, and the young man had been dragged into the street and his throat had been slit. Rumors flew afterwards that the young man hadn’t even done anything wrong. He had simply crossed a set of vicious men who had set him up that night and made sure that he died.

This week, my thoughts have returned to that young man since his death, if the rumors were true, paralleled the death of Jesus in more ways than one. Like that young man, Jesus was a poor man from a fractious part of the world who had the misfortune of crossing men of power and influence in first-century Palestine, men who decided to turn him into a cautionary tale. Seized in the middle of the night, Jesus was beaten before he had even stood trial and testified against at his shambolic trial by false witnesses to give his inevitable execution a veneer of justice. He was then executed in a brutal manner and his body left in a public place until nightfall. It was the first-century Palestinian equivalent of a lynching. Three days later, however, God would raise him from the dead.

Given the opportunity to finish the story, how would you have done it? Out of all the possible ways the story could have gone from there, vengeance would seem to be the most likely ending. Had he had the opportunity to revisit his enemies, the young man whose throat was slit would probably have been tempted to exact vengeance similar to the manner in which he was killed. Perhaps he would have shocked his unassuming killers one by one and dragged them before the public, forcing them to confess their guilt in excruciating detail before executing them for their crimes.

When they first heard and began to believe that he had risen from the dead, that is probably exactly what Jesus’ enemies thought he would do to them. When Peter first announced the resurrection to them (Acts 2:14-40), Luke writes they were “cut to the heart,” asking one another, “Brothers, what shall we do?” What could they do? Jesus was alive, and they had killed him. Peter’s reply must have taken them completely by surprise. “Repent and be baptized,” he proclaimed, “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!” God was not angry at those who had wronged his Son. On the contrary, he had used that very sin to save them, offering them the opportunity to become his sons and daughters.

The concept of grace is one of Christianity’s unique contributions to the flow of world history. Its impact has been felt in every culture in which the Gospel has taken root. Philip Yancey recounts a poignant example of grace in post-apartheid South Africa at one of the hearings for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where people who had committed horrific abuses of power were offered immunity from prosecution on the condition that they confess their crimes to their victims before a tribunal:

At one hearing, a policeman named van de Broek recounted an incident when he and other officers shot an eighteen-year-old boy and burned the body, turning it on the fire like a piece of barbecue meat in order to destroy the evidence. Eight years later van de Broek returned to the same house and seized the boy’s father. The wife was forced to watch as policemen bound her husband on a woodpile, poured gasoline over his body, and ignited it. The courtroom grew hushed as the elderly woman who had lost first her son and then her husband was given a chance to respond.

“What do you want from Mr. van de Broek?” the judge asked. She said she wanted van de Broek to go to the place where they burned her husband’s body and gather up the dust so she could give him a decent burial. His head down, the policeman nodded agreement.

Then she added a further request, “Mr. van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him. And I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him too. I would like to embrace him so he can know my forgiveness is real.”

Spontaneously, some in the courtroom began singing “Amazing Grace” as the elderly woman made her way to the witness stand, but van de Broek did not hear the hymn. He had fainted, overwhelmed.

Is there hope for a world in which a mother loses her son and then has to watch as her husband is murdered? And even if there is, how can the victims of such tragedies move forward without being overwhelmed by sorrow or overcome by hatred? God answered both questions by raising Jesus from the dead. “Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay,” Yancey writes, “sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.” The Scripture tells us, however, that God chose to raise Jesus with his scars intact — Jesus is a wounded healer. The hope of Easter rests in being healed as Christ Himself was healed, and in choosing to become a source of healing to others just as Christ, in his refusal to return evil for evil, has become the “sun of righteousness, risen with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2).

Barabbas

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Barabbas: “Murderer”, “Thief”, “Insurgent”, “Guilty as charged”. Barabbas was a Zealot and perhaps would have been known today as a modern-day terrorist. Awaiting execution, he knew he deserved what was coming to him. His acts had finally caught up with him. It was just a matter of time. Barabbas was a violent man and worthy of death.

Jesus: Life-giver. Restorer. Peacemaker. All of the above, yet so much more. He had come peaceably, preaching openly the good news of salvation, offering its cup to whoever was thirsty. Like Barabbas, Jesus’ works preceded him. But his works brought healing and wholeness to all who sought him and still do.

These two men couldn’t have been more polar opposites, yet their lives intertwined at this pivotal moment in history. Both were on trial. One was guilty, one was innocent. Ironically, the guilty would go free while the innocent would be condemned to die.

Barabbas’ name is interesting. “Bar” is an Aramaic surname meaning “son.” Peter was known as “Bar” Simon, meaning “Son of Simon.” Other biblical examples are “Bar”temaeus and “Bar”tholomew. Abbas means “of the Father.” Barabbas, therefore, means “Son of the father.” Could his parents have held high hopes for him by naming him thusly? Was he loved and cherished in his past? Perhaps his father was a moral and upright man who wanted his son to turn out just like him. Or, perhaps his name was a self-fulfilling prophecy and he did, indeed, become the image of his father. We do not know, but this “son of the father” became a well-known figure to all Bible readers as the perpetrator who got away.

Jesus’ name actually means “Salvation.” He was the Son of His Heavenly Father — the only begotten Son. Jesus was secure in his Father’s love and obedient to his Father’s plan, even unto death. It was this love that drove him to face Pilate and the angry mob. He was led away to be executed as a criminal while the real criminal escaped unscathed.

What about us? What about you? Are we really that different from Barabbas? Did we not have blood on our hands, desperately needing a Saviour to wash them clean? Didn’t Jesus take our place on the cross? The nails should have pierced OUR bodies. Yet, He became OUR substitute. Yes, we are very much like Barabbas. When we look at Barabbas, we see a reflection of ourselves: guilty as charged. We, like Jesus, were created to be “sons” of our true Heavenly Father, yet are guilty because we have all sinned.

History is silent concerning what became of Barabbas. After having been set free, we don’t know if he continued along the same path of destruction or if there was a life change. We, however, having received the free gift of pardon, like Barabbas, got a second chance. But that’s where our similarities with the “son of the father” end. If we are in Christ, we celebrate this Good Friday having the assurance of eternal salvation. Barabbas may have come before the judgment seat again to be tried for his evil deeds. Yet, we have one who has once and for all served justice on our sin by becoming sin itself. We have been fully pardoned, not just for one crime, but for every crime we’ve ever committed.

The Power of His Resurrection

Guest post by Pastor Nelson Hopkins (Impact Church, Morehead City, N.C.)

images-1The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest phenomenon known to man. By His resurrection, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. As He once lived, He forever lives in the many infallible proofs of His resurrection demonstrated through His Body, The Church. He has been raised from the dead and will never die again. Through His death, burial and resurrection, He holds the keys of death, hell and the grave. ALL authority has been given unto Him in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth. No one else ever has or ever will be able to make such a claim of genuine truth. The physical body resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the immutable point; separating the gospel of Jesus Christ from all other religions. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Almighty God has established forever there is no other Name under heaven by which men can be saved.

Other than believing he was raised from the dead saves us from our sins, how is His resurrection significant to those who already believe?

Paul said that I may know him AND THE POWER of His resurrection. What is the power of His resurrection? Romans 8:11 says that the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead living in you now makes alive your mortal body. His Spirit is the light of God in His sons and daughters. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God.” The power of His resurrection is Christ now living in you the hope of glory. No longer under the dominion of sin but delivered from it to rule and reign over every power of darkness. The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes the Gospel of Jesus the “Stronger man” gospel as recorded in Luke 11. We who believe are now living in a kingdom of power, not of word only. The same Spirit of God’s power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you and makes alive your mortal body to do immortal or eternal works for God.

The Church today now believes in, CELEBRATES and remembers the resurrection but we are to also and even more so show forth works that demonstrate His resurrection with MANY INFALLIBLE PROOFS.

We are not just forgiven but now we also are to preach reconciliation to God through faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ with signs and wonders that confirm He is alive and working the same works and greater than He did before His death on the cross. The resurrection is not just a fact for our faith to recall and receive but is also a truth to be demonstrated through preaching with signs and wonders that Jesus is Lord over death, hell and the grave as well as over every work and consequence of sin plaguing humanity today. The resurrection is words to believe and works to be seen as confirming that Jesus was delivered for our offenses but raised for our justification.

We are the just. We are the redeemed. We are the power of His resurrection living in this world today.

So this Easter, remember and rejoice in Christ Jesus and resolve not to neglect so great a salvation and live in the fullness of the resurrected Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

You’re On!

spotlightI’ve been studying the book of Acts lately. Luke’s account to Theophilus reads like an action-packed, fast-paced thriller — the “stuff” of a great movie. The writers of the Gospels gave us an inside look into the life of Jesus as they recounted his birth, his life on planet earth, his death and resurrection, and finally his ascension. In summary, they relayed his parting words of the Great Commission, leaving not one speck of doubt as to what was uppermost in our Lord’s mind when he returned to the Father. All things had been accomplished and now it was time to “get the game on.”

I love this quote from the Message Bible: “Luke continues his narration with hardly a break, a pause perhaps to dip his pen in the inkwell, writing in the same style, using the same vocabulary.” The Gospel story doesn’t end with the book of John. On the contrary, it only picks up the pace gathering force like a hurricane until the early church bursts onto the scene. A succession of major events play themselves out as the Holy Spirit is unleashed upon the earth. This spiritual earthquake comes in full magnitude: a rushing, mighty wind, tongues of fire and the breaking forth of diverse languages, creating quite a stir in Jerusalem. Seizing the opportunity of drawing a crowd, Peter, fisherman turned preacher, casts his net and pulls 3,000 souls into the Kingdom at once — with one sermon!

In Acts 5, God’s purging work immediately accompanies the growth of the church with the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, sending a ripple effect of holy fear and consecration into the new believers. The furnace of affliction only intensifies through the martyrdom of Stephen in Chapter 7. Continued persecution, spearheaded by Saul of Tarsus, drives the frightened believers to flee for their lives into the countryside — yet, taking the Gospel of the Kingdom with them. The precious seed of Stephen is not forgotten, however. His cries for forgiveness thundered throughout the heavens and paved the way for Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in Chapter 9. The kingpin of the whole movement comes face to face with the King of Heaven. Saul, as we know, becomes the beloved Paul, who later pens the greater portion of the New Testament.

What a story! Acts, no matter how many times you read it, pulsates with vibrancy and pulls us into its story — His story. Every character played a pivotal role. Each person stepped out onto the stage of history and furthered the telling of this story. Each one was uniquely gripped with a vision from on high — the furtherance of the Gospel.

The scene has now shifted and you’re on! If you belong to this glorious Church, you have been entrusted with a special role to play as well. Are you linked in to the heartbeat of Jesus? Do you share his passion? This is your time. You’re in the spotlight and the Lord is calling you to be a part of his great plan. You can be one of those who actually goes to the ends of the earth to share the message or you can be one who is part of the equipping team that sends his messengers forth.

Would you pray with me and ask God to use you in a greater way for his Kingdom work?

“Father, I realize that this is my time in history. I am part of a great story and I want to be used to the max in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity. I want to go out as a flame. Show me how I can play a unique role and make an impact with my life. Use my skills, talents, and gifts for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

$10,000 Challenge

11944115-climbers-in-the-swiss-alpsDo you love a good challenge? An anonymous long-term donor, who is also a long-term friend and supporter of Rehoboth Ministries, has agreed to match any funds given towards the building of our new church building up to $10,000! The offer stands until June 1, 2013. This gives us roughly two months to meet the challenge. Will you step up to the plate and help us? If we have 5 churches that can pledge $2,000 apiece, these gifts plus the promised $10,000 would give us $20,000. That’s a pretty good headstart! The total estimated goal for the completion of the church building is $150,000. Will you help us rise and build?

Thank You, Crossroads Community Church!

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We have another donation for the feeding program! Pastors John and Jan Finochio of Crossroads Community Church in Harriston, Ontario, have given a $1,000 gift to Rehoboth Ministries. Pastor John just took a brief respite recently from the Canadian weather to visit us in Haiti and celebrated our mother church’s 23rd anniversary with us. We had an incredible service on the new foundation of our future church building.

The feeding program is a very important part of the many projects Rehoboth Ministries oversees. It is very rewarding to be able to help those that are so much less fortunate than us. For example, the children at Pastor Lefort’s school in Sainte-Philomène bring their bowls to school on the days they know the feeding program is operating. Since they were out of school for a few days of the Mardi Gras season, they were anxious to get back to school so they could enjoy a hot meal. Pastor Lefort said they were asking, “Kote diri a, Paste Lefort?” (“Where’s the rice, Pastor Lefort?”) With the last two generous contributions, we’re happy to say that our students are thoroughly enjoying their meals.

Pastor John’s blog is just a click away on our Rehoboth website. Just check the sidebar to the right and see what the Lord is doing in Hamilton, Ontario. Thank you John and Jan for believing in this ministry!

Our Time Now!

9781624191237_medAre you looking for a great little study book for a women’s group? Maybe your book club would like to study the book of Esther in a whole new light. In reality, ”Our Time Now” speaks to the whole Church, as Esther was a type of the Church that was used gloriously in her most perilous hour.

Beth and Buddy Davidson pastor The House of Prayer in Clarksville, Virginia, and have been in ministry for over 30 years. Beth’s insight and understanding of the Scriptures are beautifully revealed in her writing. Beth is also a good friend of mine. She allows herself to be very transparent about the struggles she and Buddy have gone through. They have traversed quite a few perilous times of their own.

One of Beth’s phrases stays with me: ”This could have been Vashti’s story,” she relates. The fact that we each have a destiny to fulfill should spur us on to be all that God intended for us to be. This one truth, among so many, has challenged me to make my life count. I don’t want someone else fulfilling the Divine destiny that was meant for me. I urge you to get a copy. It would be a perfect gift.

By the way, I have fifty copies. Contact me if you’d like to obtain some. They’re just $10 apiece, plus shipping. They’re also available on other sites such as xulonpress.com and amazon.com. You won’t regret it.

A Longtime Supporter Speaks

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One of our most faithful supporters of all time, Myrtle Wickham, has written a few words of encouragement to our readers. Myrtle traveled to Haiti for several years to spend a month at at a time with us. She’s been with us through good times and some very difficult ones. Her support of this ministry, both financially and spiritually, has been unceasing and we are so thankful to also call her friend. Myrtle has always wanted to come back to Haiti to visit, but the lack of funds has not permitted it. She travels to Haiti every day though through her prayers. We have relied tremendously on her intercession for us through the years and honor her with this post. For those of you that don’t know Myrtle, she’s the one on the left in the picture. We love you, Myrtle!

When I think of Haiti one of the first things I remember is the church building. The first time I visited Cap they were working on the foundation for the new building. I wanted, and still want, so much to see that building completed and full of the precious Haitian people. I have been there when the church members brought their first Sunday offerings for the building. I would think to myself, “Father, they don’t have anything but they gave what they had. Reminds me of the widow’s mite. She only had two pennies to give but she gave them. The people of the Center for Christian Formation give. God sees and He knows. There is no more blessed thing we can do than give to God. I can remember hearing stories of people who gave out of their need. The people of Haiti give out of their need. They don’t come to church in nice cars; they come on foot. Even in the rain, they come with their shoes held in their hands. They don’t walk a block or two; many walk a mile of two. They come for every service, they come for prayer in the early morning. At 5:00 AM there are a lot of people there praying. I believe God is going to build that church and He is going to get great glory from it. His arm is not shortened that He cannot move and do wonderful and marvelous things. He sees and He knows; we don’t hide anything from Him.

I pray that many who read these messages will pray and ask Father God what He would have us do and then dig deep and give toward the completion of that church building. I pray when it is completed I will go to see it for myself. It is going to be beautiful. I promise you.

Up and Walking!

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Yesterday marked a first for us. For the first time since we moved to Cap-Haitian in June 1988 (24 years ago), we flew out of Cap-Haitian on a jet! Over the years we have traveled on turbo props, a Cessna 402, a DC-3 and even the Agape missionary plane. We’ve flown out on jets from Port-au-Prince to Ft. Lauderdale, but never did we leave on a jet from Cap-Haitian. It only took us 1 hour and 40 minutes and was wonderful. I took a picture of the IBC jet just before boarding just to commemorate this occasion.

Prit and I have lived through dictatorships, coups d’état, and even an international embargo. We’ve watched Haiti descend a slippery slope with little hope of any recovery. Our children flew out of the nation’s capital early on the morning of January 12, 2010, only to discover when they arrived stateside that the south of Haiti had suffered yet another setback. A 7.0 earthquake took the lives of at least 220,000 people in just less than 60 seconds. Anguish took hold of the nation’s capital as one more blow rocked Haiti’s world.

The tide seems to be shifting, however. With President Martelly’s leadership, it looks like the church’s countless prayers over the decades are now coming to fruition. We are truly amazed to see great progress manifested in the north of Haiti and the rest of Haiti as well. People are repairing roads and sweeping the streets. (One can only appreciate this after riding on roads filled with potholes year after year which wreak havoc on the body and one’s vehicle.) An industrial park which intends to employ 60,000 workers has been built in the city of Caracol. This, plus the opening of the Henri Christophe University in the small town of Limonade is breathing new life into the students that are now attending there. Many of those students are members of our churches. Progess brings hope. Progress is life.

The body of my husband lay in the hospital of the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Alberta, in a comatose state with seemingly no hope of any change. It now appears that Haiti is finally coming out of its own coma. Our hearts are full and our eyes brim with tears because we have witnessed Haiti at its lowest points. She has been the byword and the proverb of the nations for generations and still has a long way to go – but, she has awakened. She is up and beginning to walk. All the visitors that have come to minister here in the last few months have made remarks such the following: “As soon as I landed in Cap-Haitian, my first thought was, ‘Something’s different in Haiti’ and ‘There’s a different presence here. It wasn’t like this the last time I came.'”

Please continue to pray for Haiti. Pray for President MIchel Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Pray that the international community will not forget their promises to Haiti. And for those of you that wish to visit us in Haiti, you can now fly straight into Cap-Haitian from Ft. Lauderdale on a jet in only 1 hour and 40 minutes!

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Mission Accomplished!

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Max, our Status Update Dog, is back. And boy, does he have some great news! Rehoboth Ministries has received a donation of $16,000 for its children’s feeding program. Too bad you’re not here with us to hear the shouts going up toward Heaven for this gift. The generous folks that sent the check chose to remain anonymous and said all they wanted was for ALL the glory to go to God. Their only request was to challenge others to match the gift.

We have now met our yearly goal of $36,000! Because of all the other needs we have for the ministry, this has removed a tremendous weight from off our shoulders. We can truly say, “To God be the Glory!”

Would you like to rise to the occasion and do great things for God as well? On the days they get fed, the students at our school in Sainte-Philomène bring their own bowls to school. They will be overjoyed to know they’ll be getting fed this week. Perhaps you would like to help us continue this program next Fall. Or, maybe you can join forces with us to help build our church in Petite-Anse (an estimated $280,000). There are all kinds of projects here that need attention, ranging from things like construction to helping people start small businesses as well as the purchasing of vehicles, to name just a few. Anything you can sow will have a tremendous impact here.

Thank you SO much for your gift. You know who you are. Your love for Jesus and his work shines through once again! Thank you, as well, to the ones who have consistently sown into this ministry, month after month, to help this program to continue.