Among God’s saints

I am in awe!  When I first came to California in general and the Silicon Valley in specific, I thought I would have to settle for a church where people were rich and shallow.  Instead, God has placed me in a land of spiritual giants!

This morning, my pewmate, Sam, was telling me that he’d like to see the pastor preach more on the gospel.  Well, if this morning’s sermon wasn’t the gospel, I don’t know what Sam means.  Pastor Gabe was preaching on Mark 8.  He juxtaposed the story of the blind man who needed two attempts by Jesus before he could see clearly and the story of Jesus asking His disciples who others said He was and who the disciples thought He was.  Peter came up with the right answer, that Jesus was the Christ, and when Jesus then spoke plainly about the fact that that meant He had to die, Peter tried to rebuke Him.  Jesus told him he was seeing as men see and not from God’s point of view.  Gabe said that the way of Jesus is the way of the cross and that we are called to follow Him, even if it means rejection and suffering.  If you are interested in hearing the kind of preaching I get to hear every Sunday, follow this link and listen to a podcast:

After the service, I went to something called Go and Tell.  I guess about once a month, they have a light luncheon and then someone from the church tells about a mission trip they’ve taken.  Today Gabe and several others talked about their recent trip to an orphanage in Romania.  Gabe was on this trip the first two weeks I came to Seratoga Federated.  They showed a short video clip of this orphanage before the church began sponsoring it.  You’ve seen these pictures: orphans in cribs with metal bars, neglected, half starved and covered in flies.  I guess about twenty years ago, a man named Hub went to visit this orphanage and he broke down crying.  God sent him there to see and to be changed.  He and his wife have been devoted to bringing about changes there ever since.

The children there are not only severely disabled, but they are HIV positive as well.  The government wasn’t giving them the medication they needed, and the staff were calous to them.  It was thought that they weren’t worth the bother to keep alive.  Hub came in and bought the orphanage and built a small clinic next to it.  He got the government to begin distributing the medications to help them fight the HIV.  His wife got people at SFC to sponsor the children and commit to supporting them for the duration of their lives.  The children have the pictures of their sponsors on the wall, and the sponsors have watched the children grow up.  They have gone to visit their children.  Fifty people from SFC have gone to visit in the last twenty years.  Hub told about getting a man in telecommunications, known for spying on Christians and tapping their phones, to provide fiberoptics to the orphanage and his apartment in Romania to make communication back to the states easier.  Thirteen of the children from the orphanage have been either placed in foster homes where they are treated as sons and daughters, or with their birth families who gave them up when they were infants.  The children that are still in the orphanage are well tended to by the staff now.  They are treated with love.  Hub was told by one government official that his orphanage, Chi Rho, costs half as much to run and is twice as effective as the government operated orphanages.

Afterward, I spoke with Hub.  There is an intense fire in his black eyes.  He told me that he used to get stomach aches every time he landed in Romania for the fear of what he was doing.  It is a dangerous place.  He said that when he first started he asked God how he was ever going to find all the things this orphanage needed, and God said, “You have everything you need.”  He looked back on his life and realized that God had been preparing him for this since childhood.

I listened to him and I was reminded of the story of Brother Andrew.  Brother Andrew was a young Dutch man who felt that God was calling him to smuggle Bibles into Communist Russia.  Every time he did so, he was taking his life into his hands.  One time he had so many Bibles in his car that they were visible.  He came to a check point, and as he inched closer to the front of the line, he prayed, “Oh, God, You made blind eyes see.  Please make seeing eyes blind.”  He got up to the check point and the guards looked into his car and waved him on through.  He took the Bibles to underground churches that were hungry for copies that they could read for themselves.

I told Hub that I needed to hear what he said about being afraid and stepping out in faith anyway.  He looked into me and told me that God would be there in the midst of my worst fears if I have faith in Him.  He gave me a hug and a blessing.  I am in awe!

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