Therese was praying, “Lord should I go to Cuba with the team from our church? Please give me something from the Bible to show whether I should go or not .”
Short Term Missions are popular. People can take a week or two from their vacation time, go to a foreign country, make a valuable contribution, be gloriously impacted by being there and get back to work all within a few days.
A few days later God gave her direction through Actions 10:23 and 11:12. Here’s the skinny.
In Acts 10, Peter was being directed to a Gentile. And this particular Gentile was a Roman. Gentile was bad enough, but a Gentile Roman soldier! That was worse.
God was being gentle with Peter, nudging him toward change by assuring him that this Roman centurion was a God-fearing man who loved the Jewish people (10:2).
As a good Jewish man, Peter did not socialize with Gentiles. He had nothing to do with them.
Peter had moved toward a grace orientation – he was a guest at the home of Simon, the tanner. Big step for an orthodox Jewish Christian. Why? How so? The man’s occupation was tanning animal hides, hence his connection with dead animals – something a strict Jewish man would not do. So Peter is moving the right direction; he’s changing. God was about to accelerate that change.
The expansion of the Gospel broke with centuries of seeing spirituality as being within the Jewish fold. While the Gospel had liberated Peter to some degree, there was still a lot of plowing that needed to be done. Ingrained, deeply held definitions of what constituted spirituality did not move quickly.
God was shaking things up. The Gospel was bigger than Jewish believers who had kept the Gospel for themselves.
Requested to go to the home of Cornelius, the Roman centurian, Peter went. Good for Peter.
As Therese was reading the Bible in the normal course of daily devotions, she came to this critical, guiding verse: “The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along” (Acts 10:23). Here was God’s answer to her prayer. She would “go along” to Cuba, as people had gone along with Peter. They would experience this moment with him; Therese would experience Cuba with us. They would be able to verify what happened; Therese would be able to verify the conditions and status of the lives of Christians in Cuba.
These same men continued to accompany Peter as he went to Jerusalem (11:2): “These six brothers also went with me” (Acts 11:12). Peter wanted support for what he had done. Marilyn and I wanted support for what we were doing in Cuba. These six men gave that support to Peter; Therese gave it to us.
Knowing that he was breaking new ground, Peter wanted others with him to affirm what was said and done. Knowing critics would arise to oppose him, Peter wanted help. We wanted help. The attitude and resources of the North American Christians are a nourishing blessing to Cuban believers, and the Cuban church inspires North American Christians. It is a win-win.
For Therese to go . . . for any of us to go to a foreign country is:
- to grow
- to become aware of what God is going outside of the U.S.
- to say to God, “I am paying attention to Your heart for others.”
- to say, “I want to know what’s happening outside of my protected, comfortable American bubble.
- to invest our time, energy and money in what God has invested in.
It was a joy to have Therese with us. She went and had a grand time.
Take Away Truth – God leads as us through His word, the Bible.