The North American church has a great opportunity to reach for the impossible and build communities that cross ethnic and denominational lines. But too often, our fear gets in the way and creates barriers within the body of Christ.
Stephan Bauman, former president of World Relief, encourages us to break free from fear by living out Jesus’ counterintuitive teaching on truth, love, and risk. Stephan shares about a time when he and his wife, Brenda, set sail on an adventure that opened their eyes to God’s infinite power.
“In my younger days my wife and I, before we had kids, we went abroad to Sub-Saharan Africa with Mercy Ships. The lead ship at the time was called ‘The Anastasis.’ There were about four hundred people; about a third of whom were Americans, a third were Europeans, a third were Africans, and about 30-35 different denominations and so it’s a real mix of extraordinary people.”
“A friend of ours, Robin, who was working with the United Nations at the time happened to visit the ship in one of the ports we had stopped by. He took a tour and he stopped and he said, ‘I work with a lot of people around the world and what you have doing here should just be entirely impossible; it shouldn’t work.’ I said, ‘Robin, it works and it’s almost like a daily miracle that it does because we are so diverse.'”
Because Stephan and his wife took a leap of faith, they were able to experience an incredible miracle of God right in front of their eyes.
“I think God absolutely delights in the impossibility and often leads us to the place of impossibility, whether it’s a community at church, a neighborhood, maybe a whole nation. It’s in that place of impossibility, just like that ship with the crazy amount of people from different parts of the world, different traditions and Christian backgrounds, that if the Spirit of God didn’t exercise miracles on a regular basis…the whole thing would fall apart.”
God is inviting the body of Christ on an adventure that requires audacious faith and a deeper level of trust.
“Maybe we’re afraid because we’re trying so hard to do it ourselves and there’s so much at stake because it depends upon us. If we let it go, trusting His grace, and surrender more, would it be that we’d find ourselves in places of impossibility where we absolutely need the grace of God?”
“I think that’s part of the journey of faith. I don’t think the journey of following Jesus is a boring life, I think it’s absolutely opposite – it’s a dangerous, risky life that He has called us to.”
Instead of living in fear, we have the opportunity to cross dividing lines and step out in faith on a daily basis. God is waiting for us on the other side.
Stephan Bauman lives to see people everywhere rise to the call of justice and give their lives in ways that empower the poor toward real change, a journey he continues to pursue. He is author of several books including Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith from a Culture of Fear.Step into the impossible