• Life-giving Word

    Lately, I’ve been so excited about reading my Bible. So many people underestimate its power and don’t realise that we can meet God and hear His voice between the pages of the Bible.

    Last summer, I decided to read a chapter of the gospel each day and then write in my journal what I learnt and how I could apply it to my life. I tried to think about how the stories related to me and unpicked the parables to understand what God was saying.

    I’ll be honest, it was difficult at first. The Bible can seem so daunting and obscure at times – a feeling I know is shared by many. But don’t give up. Seriously. If you just persevere and pray that God will reveal what He wants through the Bible, amazing things will happen! I can totally testify to that! It says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active.” That is so true! It’s amazing because I find so often that I come across Bible verses that are so applicable to what I’m going through right now. I read what I need to hear because God knows what I need to hear and says it in His word!

    “I found myself looking at people with more hope, love and compassion…”

    The Bible is the way that God can transform us into the people He calls us to be: as I read the Bible each morning, I felt the truth of God’s love and of Jesus’ sacrifice and of my worth solidifying in my heart. It was quite a subtle change, but my thoughts were more on Him throughout the day and I found myself looking at people with more hope, love and compassion, and looking at the world around me with wonder and gratitude for God’s beautiful creation.

    The Bible is the place I turn to for wisdom (Proverbs is especially good!), and a place I turn to for peace (the Psalms are good for that). The Bible is where I go to become inspired and excited about what amazing things God can do through us (Acts is particularly exciting!) and to figure out God’s unique plan for my life!

    I just get so hyped when I read the Bible because that is where God speaks to us – we can simply pray “God, what will you tell me today” as we open our Bibles, and we will hear His words! It is so important, it assures us of our place in this world, our relationship with God and how we can spread the love with others. It is the truth we cling to when lies are thrown at us from all angles – it is unchanging and unfailing truth.

    It’s such a big book and it’s bursting with things God wants to say to you! It can be overwhelming but I urge you to even read one verse a day; there are so many good resources too (apps, devotionals etc.) that pick out relevant and inspiring verses. It will amaze you how God can fill you with the Holy Spirit when you just soak in His words for a bit.

    But the sad thing is that this life-changing book – that is alive and works through our hearts and lives – is banned and restricted in many countries (for example, North Korea). That means that there are Christians around the world who can’t get a hold of God’s words that God wants them to hear – that they need to hear!

    But what’s great is that Open Doors smuggles Bibles to these countries where God’s Word is banned so Christians there can grow in their faith and be filled with the spirit, despite the barriers they face as persecuted Christians. If you want to give persecuted Christians all over the world the chance to read God’s Word, you can donate here one here (and get a free t-shirt in the process!!)

  • Changing your vision

    In today’s society it seems like love has gone down the list of aspired qualities, being trumped by attributes like self-sufficiency and intellect. But if we were all made up of just those qualities, and abandoned love, society would become a cold, selfish place.

    Love and compassion are increasingly becoming synonymous with naivety and ignorance in society; and fears of world conflicts are ever-present in the media, forcing people to lean towards apathy for the sake of possibly keeping themselves safer.

    I think, that what we all forget sometimes – or choose to ignore – is that we are much more like everyone else than we realise. We are all human. We are all created by God. He loves each of us the same. God wants to have a relationship with us just as much as he wants to have one with any other human that he designed in loving care.

    I used to think that Muslims were people who thought they had it all figured out, and they thought that their religion was the best and that was the end of it. But a story of a man during Ramadan made me realise that most Muslims are just like us; they want a close and fulfilling relationship with God just as much as we do.

    This man was praying to “Allah” to reveal Himself to him, begging to feel close to Him, desperate for a closer relationship with Him. As he was praying, the painting behind him fell to the ground and behind it was a painting of Jesus on the cross. At that moment he gave his life to Jesus.

    As he was praying, the painting behind him fell to the ground and behind it was a painting of Jesus on the cross.

    Not only is this a great testimony of the miracles that God will do for us, it is also a story that encourages compassion. This man, just like us, had a genuine desire for a relationship with God, for fulfillment and meaning in life. We were all created by God so I think that there must be some inner instinct that desires meaning and fulfillment – not emptiness – that will only be satisfied by a relationship with Him through Jesus.

    God looks at every one of us with a fatherly love because he created us. This realisation came to me and completely altered how I looked at people. It made me more aware of how much I judge people and how unfair I have been, how those judgements affected the way I treat them. When I started to remind myself how God sees people – how lovingly he looks at his creation – I started to treat people more lovingly and am becoming more able to look past my pre-conceptions and prejudices.

    I think that the best way to display the truth of the Gospel isn’t always preaching it from the rooftops, but it is the silent strength of living a life of love and compassion that displays the love of Christ so truthfully. People will see that instead of striving for self-centered achievement, instead of behaving coldly to others; we are warm and welcoming and kind.

    This is why compassion and love are so important. They are a testament of the love of Jesus. Jesus didn’t pick and choose who would receive the Truth – he ate with prostitutes and tax-collectors. Jesus didn’t dissociate with sinners – he loved them. He loved the people needing loving. Jesus loved us so much that he died for us, letting us have a relationship with God again. How can we not share that news by spreading that love with our lives?

    Read the original story that inspired this article here…

  • We are family

    I’m writing this sitting in the car on a summer road trip. Mum and dad are in the front, my brother and I are in the back. Sitting in peace, listening to music, being a family.

    When I think of family, the first thing I see is this: us all in one place, resting in a comfortable silence. I then think further, wider, to the people that love me but don’t live with me: Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins. And then I think about the people who are with me every day and with whom I feel comfortable with, my friends in school and church, who I can rely on and have fun with – who have things in common with me.

    Have you ever met someone and found out that they were Christian too and felt an instant connection, like you both knew what each other was going through? They’re your family too. They share the core thing in your life and identity so there is a deep common understanding between you.

    That is just the same with those whom we haven’t met yet. And maybe won’t ever meet on Earth. The Christians around the world who believe what you believe, care about what you care about, are cared for by your Father – their Father too. So that’s where “brothers and sisters in Christ” comes from.

    If your mum or little brother was being beaten for going to church on Sunday, you wouldn’t think twice about reacting.

    But our family is suffering all around the world, in North Korea, Nigeria, Syria… The list never ends. And they are suffering because of what connects them to us – their faith. The centre of their lives and the whole of their identity is in Jesus and they’re suffering for it. If your mum or little brother was being beaten for going to church on Sunday, you wouldn’t think twice about reacting. We should be the same with our family that is suffering. We are called to love everyone by Jesus, and along with human instinct to love our family, we are told to love, suffer with and rejoice with our Christian family too – the body of Christ:

    “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we are all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many… If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

    Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
    1 Corinthians 12:12-27

    Do something for your family now…

    Sign the ‘One million Voices’ petition, send a Bible and commit to praying with some quality, free resources. Support your family now.

  • We support people who are beaten, tortured,
    imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.