Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Shavuot!

I received a greeting card today, from a friend of mine in Israel. The card read: "May the joy and blessings of this feast of Shavuot be yours! This High Holy Day celebrates the gift of the Torah, given by God to His people, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of the barley harvest. Truly it is a precious time in the Land of Israel."

Celebrating the day God gave His word is a great idea. God's word (both the Jewish scriptures and the New Testament) have changed the world. When Elizabeth Elliot went to the Guarani people in the jungles of Equator, after they had killed her husband, the Guarani woman that Elizabeth had been discipling spoke to her people. She said that God has written a letter on bark telling the people his will. She said that God does not want them to kill one another. The Guarani Indians responded in complete surprise, since no one had ever told them that before! When I heard that, I thought that we take so much for granted in western society. We fail to acknowledge the power of the Torah in the development of our own culture. The Guarani Indians killed Jim Elliot because they had no moral guideline telling them not to murder. One of their tribe members lied about the missionaries to cover up his own sin of adultery. That’s three of the 10 commandments. If it were only the 10 commandments, that would be immeasurably significant, but it obviously goes far deeper than that when we consider God's teachings on love and social justice. God's word has formed us.

In Latin America, we are confronted with a society in which God's word has not had as strong an effect. The Conquistadors told the Indians that they were Christians, then they robbed them, raped them, murdered and enslaved them. It sent a mixed message. Add to that a society of illiteracy, where no one could read the Bible even if they wanted to, and you get a culture in which people use a lot of religious sounding words without an understanding of the biblical message. That is why our ministry, Latin America ChildCare, is so significant. We're teaching the people how to read. More than that, we're also teaching them the Word of God. Because of this, many of the kids are getting saved. But, even when they don't get saved, there is a huge benefit to society. The Word of God is like yeast--just a little bit of it will eventually work its way through the whole batch of dough.

So, I agree with my friend and want to take this opportunity to say, “May the joy and blessings of this feast of Shavuot be yours!”

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