I was going over my plans for the week when I realized a common theme that corresponds with the title of my blog. People need encouragement. Monday I was at the dumpsite in Tondo and the cemetery in Navotas with a British friend who is one of the most remarkable, but unassuming people I have ever met. Like Nehemiah, she saw devastation and had to do something about it. She started a work 10 years ago to help the poor families living in these areas and she has persevered against enormous obstacles. Lives are being changed.
Today I had a small group Bible study for some missionary wives who face challenges raising young children in a culture different from their own. A Hindu neighbor usually joins us. Tomorrow I will meet with the wife of a campus minister who will be joining us in Ukraine. Their hearts burn with such a passion for making disciples and reaching students. They are a joy to be around. Thursday I will have lunch with a Japanese pianist who is an atheist. She plays beautiful music, but has yet to meet the God who gave her such wonderful creativity and life. Friday I will have coffee with a beautiful Cambodian Buddhist. She is often lonely, missing her family and familiar culture. She and her British husband live here in Manila. When I was a child, my grandparents frequently traveled to other nations and I asked them to bring me a doll from every nation. I would often look at my unique collection and wonder about the nations they came from. Now it is as if they have come to life as I meet these women.
There was a time when I wondered how going through trials and difficulties could be of any real value. In and of themselves, they are not. But when I seek God in every situation and find my treasure in Him, I curiously find myself with a calendar full of people who need encouragement. I can even thank God for difficulties that I did not understand at the time, because I can comfort and encourage others who are going through similar experiences. Without those life experiences, I wouldn’t have a clue. A few days ago I spoke with a friend who is a missionary in another nation. We are from different parts of the world, but I was amazed to find that the opposition she and her husband are going through so closely resembles our situation in Ukraine several years ago.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”
2 Cor 1:3-7
So I will continue to encourage. Part 2 of “Encouragement from Nehemiah” soon to come.