Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 5, 2009

The Nations Need God

   I read an interesting article in the TimesOnline entitled: As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God (December 27, 2008). Matthew Parris, the writer, noted that even as a child growing up in Africa he observed that Christians were always different — in a good way. Reflecting on his impressions while traveling across the continent with friends, Parris added: “Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away.” Parris’ article prompted me to dig through my trunk of travel journals to retrieve the journal from my first trip to Ukraine. Here are excerpts of what I wrote near the start of that trip.

August 18, 1995 | As we travel by train from Kiev to southeastern Ukraine the beauty of the countryside impresses me. However, I cannot help but notice the blank, sometimes lifeless expressions on the faces of so many people as we stop along the way. It is as though their souls have been raped by despair and the difficulty of the times. The absence of smiles, of light in the eyes, and of a determined gait seems to indicate the absence of joy. Mere existence without joy is indeed a miserable state.

August 19, 1995 | Our team sang and preached in one of the local churches today. What a glorious time. The people sang from the depths of their heart and eagerly listened to the preaching of the gospel. This morning, eight people placed their faith in Jesus for salvation. Their tears gave way to smiles. Everyone rejoiced. What a contrast to the world outside these walls. These individuals are experiencing the same struggles and pressures as those I had seen from the train, but their outlook is entirely different. Jesus makes all the difference.

   Everywhere I travel, it’s the same — the obvious difference in the lives of those who have chosen to embrace Jesus. I have seen Christ-followers smile in the face of oppression. I have heard their songs in the darkest nights. I have met persecutors whose lives were changed because they were loved and forgiven by those they tried to destroy. I have watched hatred and anger fail in their attempts to siphon the joy out of the hearts of those whose love Jesus. There is indeed something different about those who love and truly follow Jesus.

   As a young Christian, I heard an old revival preacher share a story about a conversation between a Christian and a Communist. Seeing a man in ragged clothing, the Communist turned to the Christian and proudly announced, ”Communism can put a new suit on that man.” The Christian smiled and respectfully replied, “Yes, but only Christ can put a new man in that suit.” Jesus makes all things new. The Apostle Paul taught that Christians are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) who belong to a new kingdom (Colossians 1:13) and walk in new ways (Romans 6:4).

   Mr. Parris observed, “In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.” He’s right. But Jesus makes the same difference in the hearts of believers everywhere, not just Africa. The people of Africa need God. But, the love of Jesus and the difference He can make also extends to all nations. The nations need God, too.


Responses

  1. Omar,

    I have found you page ‘The Nations Need God’

    I am keeping reading and write a comment when I finished to reading the pages.

    Thanks for the giving updates of Ukraine. I love to learn such of those countries, natures, christanitys, and the life’s style of the people. thank you.

    Mortuza.
    Bangladesh.


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