by Emily Hamilton, vision trip participant
Nineteen Frontier Fellowship friends from the US are on a vision trip in the Middle East to learn from our ministry partners about how the Good News of Jesus is transforming lives. Experience this partner visit through the eyes of those traveling with Associate Director Dan McNerney.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…” —Psalm 27:1, 4 ESV
Over the last few days on a Frontier Fellowship vision trip, I have beheld the beauty of the Lord—not in a physical building or house of worship, but rather through the witness and vision of our brothers and sisters in Christ from the Middle East.
I beheld the beauty of God’s hope as I listened to a woman relate the story of her own father’s martyrdom decades ago. Hope shined through, even and especially as she shared with us her honest grief and pain. She told us through tears about how much her father loved her, how he taught her through his words and actions, and that it was because of his personal experience of Jesus’ deep love for him that he was motivated to move into situations of risk for the sake of the Gospel. Her joy and pain together in sharing about her father reminded me that living hope makes space for truthful lament and the acknowledgement that while we do not taste the fullness of God’s victory yet, we are assured that death will not have the last word.
I beheld the beauty of God’s power in brothers and sisters who shared stories about their own imprisonment. They spoke with striking clarity about how their willingness to suffer for the Gospel is the very thing God is using to open the hearts of their people to the truth of Jesus Christ. As one man quoted, “A Church that is not afraid to suffer can never be…” This is neither masochism nor stoicism; they know death is no friend; torture is evil; they stand against human rights abuses. However, they have also tasted the love of the One who washed His disciples’ feet and laid down His life for His friends. And they are convinced that when we are truly empowered by the Spirit, our lives will take on a supernatural imitation of this self-giving love. One is able to confront risk, endure suffering and find God’s grace sufficient. This is the upside-down power of God.
I beheld the beauty of God’s wisdom at work through our brothers and sisters who are envisioning new ways to educate, disciple and nurture Christian leaders to shepherd the explosion of new believers in the Middle East and meet the challenges of a contemporary witness. Far beyond a mere repetition of Western theological education, our friends have imagined deeply formational tools and programs to cultivate flourishing leaders.
These brothers and sisters are seeking the “one thing” of which David speaks. They know the Lord as their light and salvation even as they confront fear, obstacles and grief. In them, I behold the Lord’s beauty.