2023 News

In the Face of Despair

Wednesday, 3 May 2023

Dear Friends, 

As I reflect on the challenges throughout the world, the need for Christians to be active in faith and generous in sharing God’s love is greater than ever. 

The war in Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on us all and is an example of the increasing conflicts throughout the world. While not making news headlines, there is also a noticeable increase in disasters over recent months. Earthquakes in Tajikistan and Ecuador/Peru. Wide-spread flooding in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia - places already devastated by famine. Over 2.6 million people in Türkiye and Syria displaced by the February earthquakes live in tents. Then floods hit them in recent weeks.

The Vanuatu cyclones last month - Judy and Kevin - left many villages with long term recovery projects with many homes, churches and other buildings damaged. I wish to thank all those who gave to the Vanuatu Cyclone Response to date, we gratefully appreciate your support and invite others to contribute also. The need is great.

As we at Global Mission Partners navigate these types of challenges and carry on in the important work of supporting partners overseas and within Australian Indigenous communities, I’ve been taking inspiration from the story of Nehemiah.

What did Nehemiah do when he heard the despair of the survivors in devastated Jerusalem? The Bible reads, “I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”. Nehemiah’s earnest prayer in the face of despair spurred him to action. As a result of his discernment before God, he sought permission to return and help rebuild Jerusalem. His story goes on and tells how he assessed the damage, organised the resources, coordinated those committed to the cause, overcame opposition and celebrated the accomplishments. 

In fact, because of their community development efforts, a spiritual renewal takes place. Nehemiah 8:6 describes that “all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground”. 

This is happening today. When a community receives access to clean water for the first time, no longer needing to walk long distances, they praise God. When people receive an education and they are the first in their family to graduate, they praise God. When groups of people pool their resources and are no longer enslaved to high-interest loans, they praise God. 

It reminds me of the moment Jesus taught us to be salt and light and said, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

What is our response to the despair of our day? 

Is it prayer and fasting?

Will our prayers lead to action?

Will our action lead to God being glorified?

As we approach Pentecost (Sunday May 28) may our efforts to bring hope and restoration in the world be fuelled by prayer and may God bring renewal in all the places of despair.

John Lamerton, Executive Officer.

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