Five words at the bottom of the TV screen captured my attention: “She gave birth in chains.” I quickly turned the volume up to hear a 27-year-old Sudanese woman tell the account of how she was imprisoned for her Christian faith and how, days before her scheduled execution, she was forced to give birth in her prison cell while her ankles were cuffed. Let me state the obvious: This was so not the birth this mama had planned! The story ends miraculously, as her husband brought global attention to the woman’s plight and won her eventual release. However, the words, “She gave birth in chains,” have forever marked me.
Thankfully, most of us will never have to endure the torture this woman experienced, but have you ever had a dream that you had to birth in chains of adversity?
This past year I launched my first book just weeks before we were hit with a pandemic. What I had hidden in my heart for ten years was finally on paper, and then my book tour was cancelled. It felt so “not what I planned”! It comforted me only to know that I wasn’t alone. I was joined by most of the world, who came face to face with unforeseen changes of plans, and … chains!
Yet, despite the chains, people are still birthing dreams! There are three things we can do to thrive even when restricted:
As a co-pastor, alongside my husband, in the quarantine of 2020, the opposition became an opportunity to care for people, maybe more deeply than we had in years. We made phone calls to 9,867 families to assess needs, offer prayer and even give technology training in order to be able to pastor them for the weeks (which turned into months) to come.
Creating a call team helped us recognize that some of our best kept secrets of pastoral care are in the facilities and IT departments. We were able to teach young staff what it means to minister beyond an awesome weekend service, and we were forced to advance technology plans we had for the future and expedite those to meet current needs. We were determined to come out stronger, and we are! There is an opportunity in your opposition, just look for it!
In 2 Timothy, Paul writes, “ I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (4:7). It’s hard to keep the faith when the race feels like you’re running on a treadmill, like you’re moving yet going nowhere. There are times when you can’t see the finish line, but that’s when we have to remember, we don’t walk (or run) by sight! So, keep up the pace. Don’t get lazy, don’t run in circles and enjoy the journey (whether that’s in leading yourself, leading a company or leading your kids). Remember that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. So, when your dream hits a detour, don’t give up! Others are depending on you to finish strong.
Our Christian faith is based on the greatest rise-up moment in history! Our Leader demonstrated to us that nothing is too dead to come back. Even if we have to “give birth in chains,” He has empowered us for the task ahead of us. Most “overnight-success stories” are really “overcoming-adversity stories.” So, rise up!
This article was extracted from Issue 6 (Summer 2021) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.
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