Note; this is an article I posted in our Mission newsletter in May 2012 as we served at the Arizona Indian Christian Mission School.
I think the realization of the consequences of your choices are even more evident today as we see so many Missionaries, aid workers and ordinary Christians (and others) serving the poor, hungry and those that can’t help themselves in dangerous places around the world. They realize the danger, hardships, and pain that they may encounter but they choose to serve anyway and some pay the ultimate price as did Christian Aid worker Kayla Mueller last week.
I am re posting this because it is a reminder to me that Jesus wants us to make the right choice in all circumstances and He will be with us no matter what the outcome.
CHOICES; YES WE HAVE THEM, THEN AGAIN NO WE DON’T
If you are a Christ follower the above is not a contradictory statement. We do have a choice in following Christ. We can choose to or not, that is our choice and one we have to make. After choosing Jesus, we don’t have a choice as to choose which scriptures we think are OK for us to follow and then ignore the ones we think don’t apply to us. That is a choice we don’t have. We have to accept His words and they apply to all of us. Now after we choose Jesus and accept all His teachings, that’s when choosing poses a problem in our life. We know what we are supposed to do but sometimes we choose to disobey.
1 Corinthians 16:13 says “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” To me that includes making the right choices and that is what we are called to do.
So what does this have to do with this month’s newsletter? A lot! For the short time we have served on the Apache reservation we have seen many people make choices and many of them were disastrous. Others made the right choice no matter how dangerous the consequences were.
God tells us to stand up and be strong in our faith and for what is right and our community leaders tell us to be strong and fight for our communities and for justice. Just recently a 15 year old young lady on the Reservation (White Mountain Apache) did that. She was gang raped by four young men and told not to report it to the police or she would be killed. This young lady was a Christian, baptized at 9 years old and was active in the community youth program in Whiteriver. She chose to do the right thing; she reported what happened and gave the names of her attackers. The following Thursday she attended the young peoples message at the Whiteriver Community Church and then went across the street to a safe place where kids can hang out (”The Kennel”). Her mood was described as edgy, stressed and volatile. Then just a few days later she was found beaten to death along with her grandmother. Her choice cost two lives.
This young lady stood up for what was right and did not back down and it cost her life. Jesus did not back down and it cost Him His life as did some of the Apostles that did not back down; Peter (was crucified), James the son of Zebedee (was killed), Andrew (crucified), Thomas (was killed by a spear), James Alpheus (was thrown from the temple and then stoned), and Jude (killed by unknown means). I wonder, would we do the same when faced with possible death? What would we choose?
I assist at a men’s Bible study program on Tuesdays at the White Mountain Apache Christian Church where all men (sober or not) are welcome. At the Bible study they are reminded of choices they make and the consequences that will come after the choice is made. One intoxicated young man I was praying with stated he wanted to go home but his wife would stab him again (showed me a healing stab wound). I suggested he make a choice, sober up before you go home and don’t beat your wife when you get there (last time he only hit her 4 times) and try to work things out or stay drunk and probably stay in the same lifestyle he is in now. The choice was up to him.
I also attended a devotional for the older teen age boys at Arizona Indian Christian Mission School and my part of the discussion was on choices and friendships. I reminded these young men, Christian or not, that the choices they make now and who they hang around with may affect the rest of their lives. They can choose to follow Christ and have life or they can walk the way of the world and on the Reservation (White Mountain Apache) walking with the world could mean taking someone’s life or forfeiting their own in a variety of ways.
The violence, depression, hopelessness and the thoughts of having a bleak future are in epidemic proportions to many of the Native Americans on the Reservation. I am finding that they basically don’t need food, clothing or housing, or even a good education because they have those things available to them already. The problem is that many of them make bad choices and the results keeps them defeated. What they need and what they need to choose is Jesus and His ways.
The right choice is not always easy, I don’t always make the right choice even though I am blessed in more ways then I can imagine. That is why we can’t give up on our brothers and sisters that need help with understanding they have a choice and prayerfully they will choose Jesus, and we will be with them every step of the way as they struggle in their walk with the Lord.