The group in San Juan
Left to right: Jean Heglund, Gary Bilyeu, Lonnie Bilyeu, Jennifer Leavy, Ryan Bacon, Diane Nichols, Shianne Gruss, Adam Kolosik
As many of you know, I recently (about a month ago now) got back from a missions trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico with LIFE Church. There were exactly eight of us, from all different walks in life and our relationships with Jesus. I can’t stress enough how incredible it was to see God use each one of us, as we are and with our individual passions and talents.
God did and is continuing to do amazing things in San Juan. Pastor Humberto (Bert) Pizarro is a man after the Lord’s heart and plan for the San Juan community. He kept telling us that he and his wife have chosen to go “into the lion’s mouth” (Amos 3:12) to literally rescue the broken people all around them and bring them to a relationship with Christ. Connected Life Church, which they pioneered, is situated not far from the corners where prostitutes are picked up and drugs are dealt: the proverbial lion’s den.
Thus says the Lord: ‘As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.'” – Amos 3:12
Since it’s never wise to take a verse out of context and twist it to fulfill our own devices, it’s important to know the context of any piece of scripture. Amos was a prophet and spoke widely of Israel’s disconnect from God and their selfish pursuits. In this verse, Amos is saying that very few of the Israelites – God’s people – will be saved when the enemy attacks them. More, saving an individual will be as easy as pulling a piece of bone or marrow from a lion’s mouth once he’s sunk his teeth into his prey.
I don’t know about you guys, but this bit of scripture sounds pretty disheartening to me. Pulling people out of lions’ mouths? How could I ever do this? I’m not a missionary in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m just an average [insert title] in the middle of nowhere [insert place].
Except you can. And God is just waiting for you to say “I’m willing”.
Speaking of shepherds and sheep, I’m actually reminded of a famous parable. (You can find it in Matthew 18:12 and Luke 15:4.) In these two very similar passages, Jesus is using a relatively relatable situation to speak to the crowd. In short, He asks them all what they would do if they had 100 sheep, but one went astray. Wouldn’t you go after the one and leave the 99? Jesus asks.
As that certain date on the university calendar looms ever closer, I think of not just the hundreds – but the thousands – of students who don’t know Jesus on our campus. I think of the hurt I’ve gone through in my own life and the struggles my family faces every day, and I just can’t imagine getting through it all without knowing Jesus or without having this community of believers we call Chi Alpha.
I believe, as Jasmine wrote in her post last week, that God has a purpose for everything. I believe with all of my heart that I am here, you are here, Chi Alpha is here on this campus for a reason.
This isn’t some cheesy advertisement to get you pumped about Chi Alpha, but I hope it does that. I hope that, after what may seem like either a very short or very long summer on our own and perhaps even away from Iowa City or the state of Iowa in general, we can come back together and stand in the gap for our campus.
I think of two prominent figures in the bible: Moses and Esther. (You can find their stories in the books of Exodus and Esther.) Both have a God-given duty to fulfill, and that is to save their people from suffering. However, they both doubt their usefulness and flat out make excuses.
In Exodus 3:11, Moses asks God,
Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Moses thinks he is not good enough. Esther, on the other hand, would rather spare her own life than save her people from death (Esther 4:10-11).
Let’s get one thing straight. If Esther wouldn’t have stepped up, someone else would have. If Moses wouldn’t have been willing to save the Hebrews, God would’ve found another. (Actually, God ends up using Moses’ brother, Aaron, as His mouthpiece, since Moses whines so much.)
But God clearly wanted to use them, and here we are in the 21st century still citing their stories.
In Esther 4:14, her Uncle Mordecai asks,
Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I encourage you all to ask yourself that question. Who knows whether you have not come to the University of Iowa for such a time as this? God has big things planned for Chi Alpha – not to make us look good – but to make Himself look good and to bring lost students to a relationship with Jesus.
If you aren’t already, begin to pray for those students, and pray for our campus.
God has sent us into the lion’s mouth.
– Shianne Gruss