by Michael E. Brooks
“As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25).
Today I stood in the Katmandu airport waiting for the arrival of a co-worker. We had never met but had communicated for several months about this trip and were eagerly looking forward to knowing one another. The plane landed and after a few moments an occasional passenger came out through the arrivals gate. All those meeting the plane were kept outside the terminal and across the drive from the gate. There was a large crowd of greeters, including many representatives of hotels and organizations expecting guests. Gradually the number of arrivals increased and many of the greeters met their parties and left. Our worker still did not appear. More time passed, the flow of traffic slowed, and the crowd thinned. Finally a lone American came out, walked over toward us slowly until he saw his name on the driver’s poster, then stuck out his hand and said, “You are the man”. I introduced myself, we went to the car, and our work together began.
During Paul’s third missionary journey, he learned of serious problems in the Church of Corinth. He sent Titus with a letter to that city to attempt to resolve the issues. But Paul worried greatly about the situation there and finally left to visit Macedonia and then to go on to Achaia where Corinth was located. He hoped to meet Titus in Troas but was greatly disappointed not to find him there (2 Corinthians 2:13). He left early in spite of good work opportunities there, so as to obtain some news of Corinth. He arrived in Macedonia where he was kept busy by work, persecution, and continued worries about Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:5). But he received a blessing when Titus joined him. “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more” (2 Corinthians 7:6,7).
In my trips to distant places, one of my greatest concerns is keeping in touch with the people I love and the events that matter in other parts of the world. Good news is constantly prayed for, sought after, and rejoiced over. I dread being cut off from papers, television, and internet for more than a few days. So much can happen that I want to know of. I feel even more helpless when I cannot even be aware of events, much less influence them.
Paul’s anxiety over the condition of Christians whom he loved is perfectly understandable. Do we not also care very much about our brothers and sisters in Christ? Is their well being, both spiritual and physical, not of great concern to us? We are tremendously blessed with technology, which enables us to learn of distant events within hours, rather than the weeks or months of previous generations. Yet sometimes it seems as if many have withdrawn unto themselves and spend little effort or thought about the needs of their fellow saints. How often do you ask about the condition of Christians in Zimbabwe, for instance? That country is facing unbelievable hardship and suffering. The church has been there for at least 60 years and once was quite strong. Even now there are many congregations and Christians. Do they have food to eat? Are they still free to worship God without fear? Do we know?
There are many other similar situations. Our brothers and sisters are in great need of physical relief and spiritual encouragement. We can often learn of their situation with a little effort. And even more, we can do something to help them. Paul went to great effort on behalf of the Corinthians. We may do much with far less cost. Let us learn to love and care for our brethren, as he did.
by Michael E. Brooks