September 13, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We greet you with every good wish in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Chief Elder.
Living in islands which were spared from the wrath of Hurricane Irma, we want to offer words of empathy, encouragement and solidarity with all those members in the islands which have been bruised and battered.
We share your pain, anxiety, shock and loss, your sense of bewilderment and displacement and we pray for your present comfort and speedy restoration to a sense of normalcy.
At this time, we would briefly share thoughts from an event in the life of Jesus’ disciples and Jesus himself.
In Mark, Chapter 4 there is a story of Jesus and his disciples being on the Sea of Galilee when a somewhat common event occurred. A windstorm occurred tossing the boat and beating the waves into their ship; they feared for their lives, while Jesus slept like a babe. Fearful for their lives, the disciples woke Jesus and he calmed the winds and the waves.
There are at least three lessons we can learn from this event. Firstly, Jesus’ disciples are not exempt from the storms of life. Like non-Christians they, too, can experience hurricanes and even death. Secondly, Jesus does not promise that we will be free from all storms and calamities because we are Christians, but he does promise to be with us through such experiences and I am sure that many who went through the ordeal called Irma must have called on the name of Jesus several times. Thirdly, Jesus has authority over the forces of nature as Lord of all creation.
Jesus is always in charge, no matter the circumstances—he was when the wind and the rain was with you—and he is now that you are faced with loss and a seemingly uncertain future. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and we will work together with others of God’s people to bring the love of God to you through efforts to bring peace, restoration and a sense of wholeness to all who suffer.
When we are going through storms, whether hurricanes or other storms of life, we are often fearful, but Jesus saw the fear of the disciples as an indication of a lack of faith. The story is told of the Moravian Bishop David Nitschmann and a group of Moravians on their way to Georgia by the ship, “Simmonds” when a violent storm arose. He and the other Moravians remained calm, prayed and sang hymns. A fellow passenger observed them and after they were through the storm, asked how they could have been so calm? Didn’t they fear for their lives? Bishop Nitschmann replied they had faith in God to keep them safe. That passenger was John Wesley* and afterwards when he had misgivings about his own faith, Bishop Peter Boehler encouraged Wesley to preach faith until he had. And that he did.
To you who have been affected, we say, “Irma is over now; pray God that your faith in him may be so strong that you will come to experience the future without fear. We will walk with you; but above all, God is with you, and He is in charge. Your losses are material and temporal, but look to him who invites us to lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth. Be patient and have faith in God and he will give you also the material necessities of life.”
To you who have been spared, we say, “Be up and doing in the name of Jesus. Let us be true brothers and sisters in word and deed.”
Sincerely and fraternally,
Conrad Spencer, Ep Fr. Kingsley Lewis, Ep. Fr.
* (From John Wesley’s Diary Sunday 25th January, 1736)