I grew up in Europe, I’ve lived in France, and I certainly have come to love Paris with her unmistakable charm, delicious cuisine, lively people and relaxing coffee shops. It took my breath away when Islamic terrorists murdered unsuspecting people in Europe’s most charming city.
Even though Sheridan is as far away from France as one could imagine, I realize that the ISIS attack was aimed against all of us, there in Paris and here in Sheridan. My first response included sadness, anger, outrage, grief and a certain sense of helplessness. Could this be the beginning of a worldwide collapse?
Then, I remembered the amazing things I was privileged to witness over the past two weeks. Hope overcame my fear. A group of 27 people from Sheridan had traveled to the Amazon River in Brazil in order to share Christ’s love. I witnessed people of all ages singing and praising God together, sharing meals together, caring for the sick people on the Amazon River together, doing dental work, conducting clinics to teach young mothers and mid-wives basic lessons on personal hygiene, kicking a soccer ball with locals, painting buildings, pouring concrete for a new church and simply living life together. Our common human nature served as a bridge between us Americans and the river people. We shared stories about life, hunting, and fishing. We laughed and we cried together. One particular village stood out on our trip. Together with our partners from a Presbyterian Church in Brazil we were invited to a village that had never before heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. Upon our visit, their sick where healed, vision restored and people believed. As a result, the village chief urged us to return in the future in order to build a church by the name of “Sheridan” in their town and make their village a regular ministry stop.
Paralleling the Brazil trip, a second group had gone down to Juarez in Mexico. They built a brand-new home for a Mexican family in Juarez. The mother and her dad were so touched, they accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ with tears in their eyes, struggling to comprehend why people from another country would come to build them a house and give them a Bible.
I am hopeful about tomorrow despite the events in Paris because our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). I am reminded that my anger must not be directed against ISIS fighters, but against the lies that turn men into murderers. No act of terrorism and no machine gun can destroy the Good News about Jesus Christ; Where God’s word is preached in truth, life begins.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Falk Alicke is a Pastor at the First Baptist Church in Sheridan.