After we walked into the Zambian orphanage I stooped down to say hello to a single child, and—in moments—I was mobbed by excited boys and girls who took the opportunity to swarm around the visiting American.
It was then that my host and friend, Edward Mwansa (pictured here with his wife, Barbra), leaned over and whispered in my ear: “They all have AIDS.” I was immediately alarmed. Was I at risk? Should I be here?
I thought of Jesus. How would He respond? Would he have welcomed these children? Or would He have hustled out in fear? I don’t have any doubt that Jesus would have knowingly entered into their world, inviting them to come to Him, hug Him, wrestle with him, to laugh, touch, and not be worried about their disease or His risk of exposure.
I thought of Jesus, and I chose to stay in the physical presence of these children who delighted in the attention of a stranger who was not afraid to shower love on them. Jesus had changed my perspective. My instinct had been to quickly remove myself from the situation. But by looking into their eyes something strange happened: the eyes of Jesus developed in me. As the children jumped into my open arms I jumped into the open arms of Jesus.
I expect that no one would have been critical of me for leaving; some would have called it a wise choice. But throughout history, followers of Christ have never been called to run from overwhelming circumstances, but rather to remain and reflect Christ.
Sitting on that floor, I discovered a power in Christ that overcame the feeling of being overwhelmed. If I had run from the situation I’d have never discovered that power! Reflecting on it now, I recall many times in my life when I did run, and missed an opportunity to experience this power, power that is found only in remaining in Him.
We don’t have to look far in our world today to find circumstances that tempt us to flee; this is a natural reaction to adversity and fear. But there also exists in our circumstances the opportunity to discover—and offer to others—the power made available to us through Christ and His Gospel!
The Church of Jesus Christ must shine its light to a world in great need. When we abide in Christ and remain in the moment, even at potential risk to our physical bodies, we can show the world the love of Jesus. When we live like this there is no way to measure the blessing that the Lord pours out upon His people!
Let us be known as a people who are not afraid to enter uncomfortable situations, but rather be seen to overcome overwhelmedness by going to the safest place on earth, the arms of Jesus.