Agonizing. Stunning. Inspiring. People around the world postponed sleep in order to witness the rescue of the Chilean miners. One. By. One.
With them coming up in the capsule one at a time, they are able to be seen more as individuals. Florencio Avalos is not simply number one in a group of 33 miners entombed for 10 weeks under tons of earth. He is a 31 year old husband and father of two. Though he is shy, Avalos was the second in command of the trapped group and often served as cameraman, capturing videos of the other miners, after crews sent cameras down to the crew.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget about individuals when contemplating a group. Avalos and each miner to follow is much more than a part of the group. Each one is a valued person and the rescue effort, as excruciating as it is, helps to illustrate that fact.
Can thinking in those terms help us when we consider the lostness in the world?
|Photo from Sxc.hu by Gabriella Fabbri|
How easy is it to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of those who are separated from God? Conservatively speaking (though I would argue the number is even greater), there are over 4.2 billion people who have no relationship with Christ. Of those, 2.7 billion are part of unreached people groups, many of whom have never even heard the name of Jesus. What in the world, literally, could I do to even come close to making a dent in those gargantuan numbers?
But remember what the Chilean miners taught us about rescues – it’s about the individuals, not the larger group. I may not can share the Gospel with 4 billion people, but I can talk to a co-worker struggling through grad school. I can write a letter to a former student of mine who is in jail. I can surely pray for the unreached people groups. (There is a new one each day on the sidebar of this blog courtesy of Joshua Project.) I can connect with international missionaries and pray with them for individuals they are seeking to reach.
Some friends of mine are serving in Central Asia in the midst of an unreached people group in an influential, but vastly unreached city. This week, they sent this prayer request.
Steve [not his real name] has been a part of the team for about six years. Numerous people have shared the Truth with him over the course of these years. My boss has become a good friend of his. Everybody likes Steve. Everyone knows that he is a good guy, including himself. Steve recently returned from mandatory army duty. Something has changed for him since he was in the army. Even his friends noticed it. They told me that he doesn’t curse anymore. He came back wanting to go to church (which he did yesterday). He had a girlfriend, but messed that up one night while drunk. He told me that he now realizes that he has “an anger problem.” Perhaps for the first time in his life, the really good guy that everyone likes may realize that he needs help. Will you ask the Father that Steve would find help in the only One who can help him?
I can’t reach 4.2 billion people, but I can pray for Steve and for my friends who are seeking to reach him. Two-thirds of the world’s population will not all come to Christ in one instance, but Steve might become a follower of Jesus. Then maybe he leads a friend to same One who saved him. Then that friend leads another friend and it continues on until a formerly unreached group becomes a collection of individuals changed by the Gospel and seeking to help others be changed as well.
We all love a good rescue story. Florencio Avalos has an amazing story of being brought back from a virtual grave to an essentially new life with his family and friends. Steve can have a story even more amazing than that. He can have a story of being brought truly from death to life. If you know Christ, you have been part of the greatest rescue effort in history. The Father sent His Son to suffer on your behalf, to pay the penalty for your sin, so that you might become a child of God. You have been freed from under a mountain of sin, shame and guilt into a life of forgiveness, joy, peace, love and purpose.
Rescues are about about the individuals. Pray with me that Steve will move from spiritual death to eternal life. Who is the individual in your life that needs a rescue? If you’d like, leave comment telling of that person. We can all join in prayer and be a part of the most remarkable rescue ever.