I recently saw an Instagram post of a shepherd helping one of his sheep to get out of a long, deep trench. The lamb was covered in mud and appeared desperate. There was no way it was going to get out without the shepherd’s help. After a struggle, the shepherd got the lamb out and stood by the trench watching as the lamb ran in a big circle and then jumped right back into the trench. The Instagram caption read, “Actual footage of Jesus rescuing me from my horrible decisions.”
Oh, how desperately we need Easter!
I am just like that silly lamb. How many times has Jesus lifted me out of a terrible trench I willfully jumped into. “Seventy times seven” is nowhere close to being enough (see Matthew 18).
One of my favorite LOGOI stories happened years ago in the jungles of Colombia when the FARC guerrillas terrified the country. Flavio, one of our Bible students, was traveling by canoe up a small river in one of the war-torn areas to lead a small group through one of our Bible courses. The canoe was more like a taxi with several others on board when suddenly gun shots rang out from the riverbank. One of the passengers was instantly killed and others wounded. Three of Flavio’s fingers had been shot off.
Their canoe was commandeered by a rogue militia group who accused the survivors of being FARC guerrillas. They dragged them onto shore where they were to be summarily executed. Flavio and the others pleaded their innocence. Flavio, holding his hand trying to stem the blood cried out, “I’m a pastor. I’m traveling the river to give a Bible study.”
The militia scoffed. “You’re a FARC spy,” he accused while pointing their guns at him. The leader of the militia group found Flavio’s backpack and ripped it open expecting to find items that would prove that Flavio was indeed a spy. Instead, his Bible and other books fell out, including our LOGOI bible study resources.
“What is this?” The militia leader asked. “It’s my Bible,” Flavio answered, “and my study materials. I’m a pastor,” he said again, “and we’re studying God’s love, grace, and forgiveness and how He sent Jesus to save us.”
The militia man softened and ordered his men to put their guns down. “They’re not guerrillas,” he said. “You shouldn’t be in these parts,” he said looking at them. Flavio, fighting through his pain spoke up, “I must travel these parts to share the Good News. Jesus died for our sins so that we could have eternal life with Him. He forgives us and takes our sin on Himself, no matter what we’ve done.”
The militia leader stared intensely at Flavio. He saw his hand and his missing fingers. Finally, he ordered his men to retreat, and they melted back into the jungle.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Years went by and Flavio kept returning to the jungle to preach and teach. His little church was his base of operation and several in his congregation studied our LOGOI Bible courses.
One day, a stranger appeared at Flavio’s church. An aging but seemingly war-hardened man claimed he was searching for the preacher missing three fingers. It was the hardened militia leader. Flavio, with obvious caution, greeted him. “I have been searching for you,” the militia man said. “I’ve done terrible things. My soul is dying, and I don’t know what to do. You said in the jungle that Jesus forgives no matter what we’ve done. Is that really true?”
That day, Flavio had the joy of leading that hardened militia man to the foot of the cross. Just imagine the angels singing and rejoicing and marveling at God’s amazing grace!
Sometimes, when I wonder if God really loves someone like me, I think of Flavio and that militia man. I think of King David and Peter and Samson and Lot. I think how God loves to redeem serial sinners… just like me and you, too. And I must sit back and marvel and say, “Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Easter!
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
What a joy to be part of a ministry that helps men and women proclaim the Gospel right where they live and serve. Many in places to which you nor I could never go. But in God’s grace, we get to help them, equip them, and encourage them. And just think, it costs us less than $60 a year to provide someone like Flavio on-going, on-the-job trusted Bible training. Thank you for being a part!
Ed Thompson President, LOGOI Ministries
P.S. Please click here if you too are grateful for Easter and would like to support those who proclaim the Gospel with free Bible training and resources.