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Joy in Adversity

He found joy in adversity, knowing that he was not alone in his struggles, but that God walked alongside him every step of the way.
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Experiences, difficulties, and accomplishments are all part of overcoming obstacles. These components collectively form the foundation that forges a person’s route to success by faith in the Lord. Throughout their lives, people may encounter tough and demanding situations. These difficulties can occasionally become intolerable, particularly when the odds are stacked against one. Nevertheless, defying all odds is something that anyone can accomplish. To overcome these obstacles, one must adopt a “never give up” mentality.

Many individuals worldwide regularly encounter difficulties and impediments in their lives. Challenges and obstacles can take various forms, obstructing you from achieving your temporary or permanent goal, depending on your personality. The desire to overcome these challenges will form a person’s qualities, leading to a greater passion for Jesus Christ. 

God is always present and caring, even amid our pleasures and sorrows or when we feel like life is no longer worth living. Psalm 46:1-3 says,

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is always in command. Life can contain either positive or negative events that extend or shorten it. But we must never lose sight of God’s involvement.

 We have been fortunate to welcome many of our brothers, sisters, and family who were previously living in refugee camps to live in North America. These brothers and sisters had been in the camps for one or two decades, leaving behind some of their possessions, including land and extended families. These families left their country because of various factors, including unrest in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, several rebel groups have been working with other powerful leaders to exploit the natural resources in the region.

This unrest has led to the displacement of numerous families inside and outside the country. This danger is recalled by our dear Bro. Lewis, who lives in Rochester, USA. His child was a casualty of this war conflict, losing her hearing because of a bomb thrown 80 meters (about 260 feet) away from her location.

Due to the large-scale exodus of brothers and sisters and their families from Africa to North America, we must prepare for assorted situations, including locating them near an ecclesia for their spiritual development and implementing the truth’s work. Being close to an ecclesia allows them to fellowship with brothers and sisters, making them feel more at ease. In Acts 2:45-48 it is written: 

They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This Scripture encourages us to continue to fellowship with one another for the glory of the LORD.  

However, some brothers and sisters experience isolation. To address these issues, we must establish a channel of communication among our community so information can be exchanged to assist those in need, including the recently immigrated brothers and sisters. Having said that, these people are arriving because of a variety of life experiences, including violence, conflict, war, fear of persecution, and other situations that necessitate a safe haven.

Some refugees have spent nearly a decade or more living in camps, losing their homes, relatives, and cultural practices in the process. The majority of them are not given the option to select the location of their relocation, and very few are asked where they would prefer to move. Whether or not they are offered this option, the obstacles newcomers face remains the same. Despite having fled from many obstacles and with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and nations, we have one thing in common: a genuine love for the Truth and one another that reflects a major commandment found in John 13:34-35:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.

Regarding difficulties, one tale that illustrates these struggles is from Bro. Chris, a young brother. Bro. Chris was separated from the comforts of his native country to go to a foreign land. He set out on an unknown and difficult trip as a settler, but amid the mayhem, he found a steady companion in his trust in Christ. Bro. Chris’s storyline starts in a Tanzanian refugee camp in the beautiful scenery near his home country, where he was raised in the Truth. He grew up surrounded by the rich customs and teachings of his faith, comfort, and support in the promises of the Bible. Still, Bro. Chris and his entire family were fortunate enough to be allowed to relocate to the US in 2017 when persistent war and conflict ravaged his native country for three decades.

Arriving in Des Moines, Iowa, Bro. Chris was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of his new home. Everything felt unfamiliar, from the language spoken on the streets to the bustling crowds that hurried past him. But amidst the chaos, Bro. Chris clung to the promise of God’s presence in his life. Days became weeks, and weeks became months. Bro. Chris faced obstacles he never would have thought he would. Communication was hampered by language obstacles, and cultural differences frequently made him feel isolated and alone. Nevertheless, Bro Chris found comfort in the teachings of Scripture and the support of his ecclesia throughout it all.

Bro. Chris’s faith was tested like never before by one specific trial. He was raised in a Sunday School home and learned early on the value of following the Bible’s teachings, regardless of the backlash. But when he started university in his new country, he was met with a wide range of ideas and viewpoints that were diametrically opposed to his own. The need to embrace dominant cultural norms was one of his biggest obstacles, especially concerning matters of morality and sexuality. He found a strong pressure at his university to accept lives and behaviors that contradicted his faith convictions.

Bro. Chris discovered that there was a conflict between his faith and the secular perspective that was being preached at university. He struggled with identity and purpose issues, wondering how to live up to his first principles in a culture that was against them. He was exposed to instructors in his classes who publicly supported same-sex partnerships, putting out reasons that ran counter to the Biblical values he had grown up with. One passage from the Bible that he looked to and found encouraging, for instance, was:

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.  But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3: 14-15).

Bro. Chris remained faithful to his first principle in the face of pressure to fit in, finding strength in his connection with Christ and the encouragement of his ecclesial community. The words of Scripture comforted him because they served as a constant reminder of God’s unfailing love and truth.

Another significant adversity he faced was the teaching of evolutionary theory in his science classes. As a Christadelphian, Bro. Chris had been taught to view the creation account in Genesis as exact truth, believing that God created the world. In Genesis 1:1-5 it states:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

However, in his university courses, he was confronted with scientific evidence contradicting his deeply held beliefs. He struggled to reconcile his faith with the scientific theories presented in his classes, grappling with questions of origins and the nature of reality. Yet, even amid doubt and uncertainty, he clung to his faith in Christ, trusting that God’s truth would prevail in the end.

Despite the hardships and challenges he faced; Bro. Chris’ faith remained unshaken. He found joy in adversity, knowing that he was not alone in his struggles, but that God walked alongside him every step of the way, as we are told in the Scripture that “the angel of God encamps around those that love him.” (Psalm 34:7) And through it all, he discovered a deeper understanding of the true meaning of joy—not as the absence of hardship but as the application of his faith during adversity.

As Bro. Chris reflects on his experiences as an immigrant now, he realizes that each hardship served as a springboard for happiness. His joy was refined via the trial of his faith, and it now shines brilliantly for everyone who knows him like a beacon of hope. 

Ultimately, Bro. Chris’s tale is one of triumph and victory rather than mere hardship and misfortune. He discovered a profound delight in Christ, a joy that endures through the worst of circumstances. Bro. Chris is aware that the happiness he has found in Christ will last forever despite the difficulties he has faced along the way. 

Life wouldn’t be the same without conquering various adversities that shape you into a stronger Christ believer. God only allows situations in your life that he knows you can manage. Everybody faces various challenges throughout their lives, and every person responds to these challenges in a unique way. While some people avoid their difficulties, others deal with them head-on to resolve these problems. We need to create a means of connections among our fellow brethren to share information and help those in need, such as our recently immigrated brothers and sisters, in the bond of the Truth, and all brothers and sisters in North America. We long for a better day to come, when that joyous time without adversity fills the earth with His glory. Come, Lord Jesus!

Benoit Mukendi,
Cambridge Ecclesia, ON

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