Acts 18:9-11 (ESV)
9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Our text this week focuses on Paul’s ministry in Corinth. It is a challenging time for Paul as the opposition to his ministry is quite vehement. It is also a turning point in his ministry as he slowly begins more strategic, focused preaching to Gentiles. The continuing opposition by Jewish leaders to Paul obviously wears on him. It is during this tumultuous time a vision comes to Paul in the middle of the night, comforting him. He is assured that though the opposition is tough, he will not be harmed.
ChildHope has lived through seasons of political violence and social upheaval during its 58-year history. Our early years of development were during the civil wars that swept across Central America. During this period violence was a daily reality in the regions we worked in, and it impacted the poverty stricken communities where we were establishing schools. While armed conflicts always get the news headlines, the behind the scenes victims are the children who are all too often (literally) in the line of fire. Homes impacted by civil unrest are all too often not the havens of security that might shelter children from outside forces warring against each other.
During the 1980’s Nicaragua suffered violent civil strife. At the same time, ChildHope saw its schools grow because most government-run schools were closed. Our teachers were committed to the children and faced the challenges of small budgets and violent communities with great courage that only the Holy Spirit could provide. These teachers were pioneers in the ChildHope movement and part of the long line of unsung heroes that have faced incredible challenges in their service to the Lord and to the children.
In those early years in Nicaragua, I remember a teacher whose care for his students was extraordinary. He knew that the haven of safety and love that he provided during the day in his classes could easily be shattered by the violence in the homes and communities these children came from. One night as he slept, he had a dream of two young girls on a bridge. As this teacher approached them on the bridge, he realized that they were planning to jump to end their lives. His sharing of the Gospel and the love of Christ with these girls literally talked them out of their plans. He woke from the dream in a cold sweat and continued praying throughout the night.
The next day he told a large assembly of students in his ChildHope school of the dream he had the previous night. He then encouraged any student who might be facing difficult times to come speak to him because the Lord was fully capable of giving those students a powerful transforming encounter. After the assembly two 10 year old girls came up to him. They began to tell the teacher of the horrific conditions they lived in. Both the war and their home situation had created such a tragic life for them they had decided to end their lives that night by jumping off a bridge. They had actually gone out to a bridge and were ready to jump but somehow felt as if there was something stopping them. They came to school the next day and heard the teacher’s story and knew that God had saved their lives.
The teacher was able not only to pray for them, but plan for these girls to be moved into a much safer situation. The violence in our world is growing. This story from Nicaragua could be told many times over as teachers have seen God intervene miraculously in impossible situations. Dreams and visions, protecting angels and God’s plans of rescue at just the right moment are part of ChildHope’s ministry experience. I’ve often heard teachers say they need a miracle a day just to survive, and on some days more than one. But we have a God who cares about these children even more than we do. He comes to us with power in times and places that everyone can see and sometimes in a night vision/dream that rescues two little 10-year-old girls from a bridge of hopelessness.
Vice President, ChildHope
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.