Friday, January 8, 2010

Hope beyond the grave...

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! Here in Zambia we brought in the New Year at one of our branch churches in a place called Chawama. We had a service and then we watched an impressive display of was a great time. The church here in Lusaka is growing and growing and it has been amazing to watch God draw people to's all such a mystery, but what a privilege to be a part of it.

A few days ago one of the men in our church passed into eternity and yesterday we all attended the burial.I cannot put into words the scene we saw as we arrived to the burial is one of those moments that even pictures cannot capture. We traveled on foot down a long and muddy path that was swamped with people who's destination was all the bury their loved ones. The atmosphere was charged with sorrow, and those who tried to drink their sorrow away. We walked down this hot and muddy path for about a mile until the road ended to an large open field, all filled with graves. The graveyard here was far removed from the clean, and tailored graveyards, that us in the first world are accustomed to...but this open field was filled with dirt mounds topped with small flowers,no names, no gravestone...just a flower or a leaf. As we walked into the graveyard, I could scarcely believe my eyes...I saw small caskets carrying small children, and mothers crying for their baby who had left for their true Home, it seemed, far too soon. As we walked we arrived to the place we would be gathering for the burial of our friend. As I came closer I saw this sea of faces, just filled with sorrow...I couldn't help but break. Unknown to all of us there was missing paperwork in order to proceed with our friend's burial right away, so we all took a place on the ground, and waited for four hours till everything could begin for our service.

As I sat there I couldn't help but thank God for the hope we have in Christ. For many of these precious people, who encounter death far more frequently than we could ever imagine, do not know Christ as the hope of glory...and the mark of despair that leaves on the soul is an indellible one...In that moment I understood more deeply the privilege it is to spend our lives proclaiming that what Christ did was for that moment when you are lowering your loved one into the grave...for the grave could not hold our God..."grave where is your victory, oh death where is your sting?" Christ took the victory out of the hands of the grave, and removed through His death the sting in death..To know what Christ accomplished when He said, "It is Finished", and rose from that grave, is most precious when we come face to face with the reality of death. Eternity comes so close, and we see that what Christ did was to give us Hope....hope beyond the grave. We were not made for anything less than Hope...and this is what we spend our lives whatever cost God determines for us. How can we stand before a sea of people burying the ones they have loved so deeply, and not be so compelled to live our lives sharing the truth of the hope that is found only in Christ? Once our service began, the words from this Book we love so much, slowly changed the sorrowful faces by calling them to remember that this is not the end...but just the beginning.

This has been probably the most compelling moment God has given me here in Zambia, and I will never forget the faces I saw, the tears, and through that the golden thread of Hope. Our God has defeated our greatest enemy...the grave... and has given us Hope..Christ, the Hope of Glory!

Love you all....God Bless!