“Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.”
– Joni Eareckson Tada
Dear Mr. Doe,
I came across this quote the other day after talking with a friend of mine who is going through a rather difficult period in his life. While I wasn’t really looking for a verse or some comforting thought to offer him, I have to admit that the above quote does give us something to consider — especially if you know anything about the woman who said it.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a 66 year old woman who is now an inspirational speaker. A diving accident in 1967 left her paralyzed from the chest down — a quadriplegic — unable to even use her hands. After two years of intense physical therapy, Joni was finally able to adapt to her new life — using her teeth instead of her hands to accomplish tasks. She even began holding a paintbrush with her teeth . . . creating beautiful works that are now widely collected. Needless to say, her hard work and determination continue to serve as an inspiration for so many!
Because of her paralysis and struggle, Joni Eareckson Tada has learned a lot about adversity and the necessity of trusting in God. Her story also made me think about a letter I received recently from Fr. John Damascene Bizimana — a missionary who works in Nyundo, Rwanda.
The people of the Nyundo region, where Fr. John is living, have endured incredible hardships throughout the years. They were subjected to incredible violence during the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s as well as affected more recently by the war in the neighboring country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Additionally, their community has been hit by flooding and deep poverty. But despite all of the challenges that continue to confront them they move forward — a step at a time . . . “simply taking God at His word and taking the next step.” “The mission we have established here was just built in 2008,” Fr. John writes. “We only have a church building right now, but the people’s faith in God’s providence and provision keeps them going. They know that in order for our work to be successful here, we need to have additional buildings — at least a church hall. This is a poor community, though, and no one has the financial resources to purchase things.”
“Even though they are poor,” Fr. John continues, “they are doing whatever labor is necessary to finish the work on a new church hall. Some of the parishioners worked clearing the land for the new building. Others have been making bricks from clay and gathering stones. They are dedicated to seeing the mission grow and thrive — and they have the faith to make it happen. We are hoping that you can help us as well.”
I have to admit that as I read Fr. John’s letter, I was amazed at the hard work and faith of the good people of Nyundo. They are willing to do whatever they can — including making their own bricks — believing that God will provide the rest! They are quite literally taking God at His word and taking the next step. What a shining example they are for all of us especially in these days of such uncertainty in the world — and how great it will be if we can help them (and so many others who are financially poor) in their struggle to have the things they need to live and thrive. Whether it is helping poor villages construct desperately needed new buildings or providing more basic necessities such as food and clothing — each of us can do something!
In your own neighborhood, perhaps you can alert friends to clothing drives that are being held for those in need in your own community. The next time you go grocery shopping, you might also consider purchasing a few extra canned goods and then dropping them off at your local food pantry. Either of these actions could go a long way to helping those who are struggling financially.
I am also hoping that you will send a donation to help us support Fr. John’s mission in Rwanda. You see along with the letter, he included a list of materials they still need to finish the construction of the new building. These include iron support bars, sheets of metal for roofing, cement, support timbers, windows, doors, and an assortment of other items. Overall, I am praying that we can raise at least $33,500 to support this mission and the work of our missionaries in other parts of East and Central Africa. Please — whatever you can send — will you send it today? Without your generosity, so many of those in need will do without! God bless you!