By a response team member
The eye sees far, but the reach of the hand is short. So goes a crisp and memorable Arab proverb. I first saw it in a message from one of our correspondents and have often since used it in replying to requests for help. For what can we say when someone suffering in another country writes to us seeking our aid? What can we do practically for them?
Some of those who contact us do indeed suffer. They face poverty and debt. They seek opportunities for jobs and education – and even risk a perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to find them. They suffer emotionally, some even to the point of wanting to commit suicide. Recently, we encouraged those who are depressed to follow a self-help module with teaching given by a fine Iraqi lady believer and also to write to us personally. As a result, many women shared their burdens with us. Finally, some of our correspondents face suffering and persecution because they have made a stand for Jesus in front of their family.
So, as their messages come to us, what can we do? First of all, we must pray for them. Then we seek to offer them what consolation and encouragement we can. The eye sees far…. Our God does indeed see, as Hagar experienced when she fled from Sarah who was ill-treating her (Genesis 16:6-14). We assure them that he knows and understands their suffering and that the reach of his hand is not short (Isaiah 59:1). We encourage them to look to God for help.
But we want to be there for them, too. We ask them to keep in contact with us and, as our relationship with them grows, we introduce more spiritual truths into our conversation. If they respond, we can go a step further and suggest to them that they meet a national believer from their own country. This is our heart’s desire for each one who corresponds with us.
We ask your prayers for us as we respond to messages like these:
I feel very sad and in need of help. There is nothing left in life that I can rely on. Thank you. (Lebanon – Feb 2015)
I am a Muslim who has received Christ. I’ve read the Bible carefully. I need help because I am being persecuted by my family. I’ve suffered a lot. (Egypt – Jan 2015)
I am thinking of becoming a Christian. As you know, this is considered a crime in our country. I wonder if I am the first person to do this. Help me – how can I meet with people who could discuss religious matters with me? (Saudi Arabia – Jan 2015)
I feel that God does not answer my prayers, even though I read the Bible almost every day. But my situation just gets worse and worse. For years I have not had a job, which would give me a good living. And it’s not just that – nothing seems to go the way I want. How can I have true faith in Christ? How can I know that what I believe is true and is what God wants? (Italy – Dec 2014)
Each of these correspondents has received a personal reply. Two of them have had further contact with us. It may seem that what we can do is insignificant. Pray with us that the Lord may nonetheless use it.