In recent weeks our village Bible study group has begun listening to an audio version of the New Testament in Luganda. It has been an interesting opportunity to listen to large portions of Scripture at a time. We listen for 30 minutes and then break into 4 smaller groups for 30 minutes of discussion. In the past we would often spend 30 minutes reading the Scripture out loud together, but now, those who are not able to read don't have to struggle trying to decode the words. In the past we would often read one chapter of the Bible or a portion of a chapter each week. Now, in the same amount of time, we can often listen to 5 chapters at once. Since many of these women have not had much experience reading or listening to the Bible, this is a great opportunity for them to hear the whole New Testament in about one year's time. It is also very encouraging to me. I am excited that we are getting to hear large portions of Scripture in context. We have already listened to the whole book of Matthew and yesterday we began listening to the gospel of Mark.
As I sat listening to the first 5 chapters of Mark, I was amazed at the power of Jesus. We heard about how God prepared the way for Jesus through John the Baptist and how God spoke from heaven declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. We heard how Jesus healed many sick people. A man with leprosy was made clean. A paralyzed man was forgiven of his sins and healed so that he could walk. Jesus showed his wisdom when challenged by the Pharisees. He showed his power by healing a man with a withered hand and a woman who was sick for 12 years, casting out demons, calming a storm, and raising a girl from the dead! Toward the end of listening to these 5 chapters, Jesus says to the man whose daughter has just died, "Do not fear, only believe." In the previous chapter when the disciples woke Jesus because they thought their boat would sink in the storm, he asked them why they were so afraid, and if they still did not have faith. These two brief comments from Jesus really struck me.
Honestly, if my boat was sinking in a big storm or I just got word that one of my children had died, I would be full of fear. I have not been sleeping well because I struggle with so many fears and anxieties. Will we have to borrow much money to build the additional classrooms for our school? If so, how will we pay it all back? What students will be attending our school next year? When do we need to finalize that in order to get all of our curriculum here? On our furlough, will we have time to meet with all of our supporters and spend time with family during our brief summer break? How will we get around? What does God have for our family's future? I have so many questions. The more I focus on all of these questions and details, the more anxious I get. But then I hear the words of Jesus, "Do not fear, only believe." Jesus said these things after showing that He has control over all things. He has power over all kinds of sicknesses! He has power over the natural world! He has power over evil spirits! He has power over death! He is the Son of God! And He is my Savior, my Friend, my Brother, my Hope, my Lord. I do not need to fear! The same Jesus who accomplished all of these things while walking on this earth, has my life, our ministry, and our family in His hands.
I tried in my broken Luganda to explain how encouraging it is for me hearing about what Jesus has done. I told the women in my small group that when I wake up anxious in the night I want to remind myself about all of these truths about who Jesus is and what He has done. I want to entrust our future to the One who has proven Himself trustworthy. And then go back to sleep as I recount His power and His faithfulness. I don't know what fears you might be struggling with today, but I do know that our Lord Jesus, can handle those things. He says to us all, "Do not fear, only believe." (Mark 5:36)