Conquering fear with faith

Conquering fear with faith

Conquering Fear with Faith

BY BENNETT ROLAN | BSF Blog Editor 

L ying facedown, Joy Machunga was prepared to die. Her leg throbbed after being brutally kicked, but she did not dare to move. Shots sounded overhead, and Joy prayed in silence.

“I just said, ‘Lord, take control.  

After several days in Abuja, Nigeria, visiting a BSF class as an area advisor, Joy was on her way home to the city of Jos 

Between Abuja and Jos, bus drivers choose between two routes. One, though longer, is highly populated and typically safe. The other is infamous for gang activity and carjackings. That day, Joy’s driver chose the latter.  

“I just assumed without asking that he would take the safer road,” Joy said. “When I realized he was going the other way, I said, ‘Nobody goes that way. It’s shorter by how many minutes? Maybe 30? Is it not better to be safe than arrive somewhere early?’

With mounting concern, Joy texted the BSF teaching leader in Abuja to pray as they continued down the deserted road.  

“Five minutes ahead of us, I saw another bus parked on the side of the road, all of their luggage was on the ground,” Joy said. “I thought they probably had a flat tire or engine trouble. Then I saw the man dressed in black with a gun.”  

When fear grows

When the bus stopped, one of six gunmen ordered the driver and passengers to lie facedown on the road.  

“I pretended I didn’t understand the instruction,” Joy said. “If you are lying on the road, and a car comes at a high speed, that’s very dangerous. So I walked to the side of the road and brought a mother with an 8-month-old baby next to me. We were lying on the ground when they started asking for money.” 

When Joy replied that her money was still on the bus, the man kicked her in the leg before retrieving her bag. Minutes later, another car pulled into view, but before the gunmen could target the driver, the car turned and sped in the opposite direction.  

“This guy started shooting, and it became very clear to me that these people could shoot or kill anyone here,” Joy said. “I prayed for that car to get away.” 

“This guy started shooting, and it became very clear to me that these people could shoot or kill anyone here …”

When the car was out of the gunmen’s range, they turned their anger on Joy and her fellow passengers.  

“They came back, stood over our heads and started shooting again,” Joy said. “They shot into the air to frighten us. 

Then, without warning, the men ordered the hostages to return to the bus and leave.  

Faith can prevail

“Everyone stumbled into the bus,” Joy said. “People were crying, so I said to them, ‘Please don’t cry,’ because I wanted the driver to concentrate. Then I started to think, ‘Let’s give thanks to God because nobody was hurt or shot.’ There were eight people on that bus. Eight families could have been mourning that day. So, I started singing.”  

In a confident voice, Joy sang a familiar Nigerian hymn. Two men joined the song, and within minutes their weeping turned to worship.  

“We had prayed for safety and protection,” Joy said. “Other people had not been that lucky.” 

That night, after thanking God with her husband, Joy slept soundly, and “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” guarded Joy’s heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)Today, when Joy remembers her experience on the road from Abuja, she prays for a fellow passenger, a young Muslim man.  

“When we got off the bus, he just said, ‘Thank you, madame, thank you.’ I pray that what happened on that bus and our reaction to what happened would speak to his heart.” 

“I pray that what happened on that bus and our reaction to what happened would speak to his heart.”

Building a Hebrews 11 faith

Joy’s ability to look beyond her circumstances and trust the Lord is the very definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1:

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” 

Whether she lived or died, Joy’s confidence was in Jesus. Her assurance was in the one true God, who would never leave her. And her response was to worship and point others to Christ 

Hebrews 11 then lists men and women of remarkable faith throughout Scripture. In a modern version of the chapter, we could easily add someone such as Joy: “By faith, Joy prayed and trusted God, even though her very life was threatened. By faith, she worshipped on the bus as a testimony to God’s goodness and glory. For Joy was looking forward to eternity with Christ and counted her life as nothing compared with Jesus.”

Though her faith is extraordinary, Joy is an ordinary person. Like the men and women of Hebrews 11, she is tempted with worry and fear.  

As part of her job for a Christian ministry, she helps fellow Nigerians who have been violently persecuted for their Christian allegiance. During her first visit to a devastated village, Joy felt despair. Months earlier, she questioned God’s plan and purpose during the trying death of her mother.   

Through these difficult situations, Joy took time to pray, seek God’s wisdom and ask for increased faith. In all these circumstances, Joy’s “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” was confirmed.  

Practicing her faith in tough moments prepared her for that day on the bus. Just as God strengthened Abraham and Moses, He is faithful to build our faith today. For Joy, much of that assurance has come from knowing God intimately through His Word.

Just as God strengthened Abraham and Moses, he’s faithful to build our faith today.

“I thank God for the tool of BSF and wisdom to be able to walk through the Word step by step at every level,” Joy said. “I’m so thankful. Knowing about Him and knowing Him for who He is through His Word are different. I’m a living testimony of how practical His Word really is.” 

God knows that we cannot develop our faith alone. So in Hebrews 12:1-2, He gives us a simple guidance: In a single sentence, we are told to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  

Hebrews 12:3 tells us that, like Joy, when we focus on Christ, we “will not grow weary and lose heart.” 

“You have to do what God is calling you to do,” Joy said. “If God is calling you to do it, He’ll take care of it.”   

The Surrendered Life

The Surrendered Life

The joy of a surrendered life

BY NATE THORESON | Regional Director, BSF Field Development 

J ust over a year ago, I was riding a mower across five acres in Idaho, comfortably involved in my BSF class and enjoying a fairly “normal” life.  

What a difference a year makes. 

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus called the disciples to, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” He asked them to cast down their fishing nets and surrender their jobs, their security and, essentially, their very identities to follow Christ.  

When a full-time position with BSF opened, I honestly wasn’t interested. Taking the job would mean moving my family, leaving behind friends and surrendering those things we clung to for security.  

But God confirmed through His Word saying, “follow me.”  

Since our move to Texas, God has shown me just how full a surrendered life to Him can be, in my own life and in the lives of amazing believers I’ve met along the way.  

This past August, I had the opportunity to visit Bangalore, India, where leaders gathered for a simulcast of the first-ever BSF Summit. There, I met living examples of Matthew 4:19 in a community of men and women who consistently cast security aside to follow Christ. 

A world apart

Dodging cows and cars, a BSFer named Joseph drove from the airport to the hotel as I took in the contrasts around me: brightly dressed people in front of buildings in need of repair; sprawling skyscrapers next to tiny shacks; beautiful trees and lots of religious temples.   

Joseph and I had never met before, yet it was like a family reunion. Joseph and his wife welcomed me into their home and even their son, Abhishek, who is a food blogger, guided me through a true Indian culinary experience. 

God’s people in India were a picture of what it looks like to follow Christ …

Ultimately, God’s people in India were a picture of what it looks like to follow Christ, to be changed by Christ and to be on mission with Christ. Once again, God was showing me the joy of a surrendered life.

Against all odds

This year marks 25 years of BSF in India, and despite opposition and persecution, God has opened doors for classes throughout the country. So many of these believers count the cost of following Christ daily and continue to “cast down their nets” to follow Jesus.  

Take, for example, the woman who secretly shares the gospel with her children in quiet moments during the day. Despite fear of retribution from her husband, who forbids her from attending church,  she faithfully clings to her hope in Christ. Tearful eyes revealed her struggle, but they couldn’t hide her joy through the curve of her smile. 

Another couple, Elango and Joan, along with their daughter, Anukripa, and son, Amrit, faced a difficult decision. While walking through the pain of losing Elango’s father, they had to decide if they would participate in the ceremonial burial rites of his extended family’s religion

At the risk of  insults and scorn from an unbelieving village, this family held firmly to their faith. Their love for Jesus was evident as they shared stories of God at work in their own lives and the lives around them.  Even in hardship. 

Their love for Jesus was evident as they shared stories of God at work in their own lives and the lives around them. Even in hardship.

Embracing the call

For Stephen and Malini in Chennai, India, a painful miscarriage brought about a challenging season of trusting God’s goodness. But, when Malini heard God’s invitation to “make room” for what He wanted to give her and scale back from the busy-ness of that season, she left her work as a school principal and stepped out of her BSF leadership role.  

Little did she know that God was making room for a child. Judah, now 8 years old, is a joy-filled reminder of God’s goodness today, even during the most trying seasons of life. Stephen and Malini are still being stretched to surrender to God’s good purposes as Stephen has endured 10 long months of unemployment. But this family’s deep faith shows how God works in every circumstance to bring Himself glory and to change us to reflect His character. 

Jesus’ transforming work in our lives is often marked with pain and struggle, but it is, in fact, a deep, loving work of God in the hearts of His people. In other words, real growth comes with growing pains.

Jesus’ transforming work in our lives is often marked with pain and struggle, but it is, in fact, a deep loving work of God in the hearts of His people. In other words, real growth comes with growing pains.

His Witnesses

Acts 1:8 declares that we will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. As Christians, we are witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Today, despite great opposition, men and women of faith are witnessing in India. I’ve seen it. God is using His people in Europe, the United Kingdom, the Gulf and Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, across Asia, and throughout Africa and North America to spread His Word. 

Jesus’ mission to “fish for people” is as relevant today as it was for the early church in Acts. But before we can “fish,” we have to follow. What is He calling us to cast aside?  How is He asking us to trust Him?  

Matthew 28 declares that “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him.  Wherever He sends us, He is in sovereign control.  Jesus also promises He will be with us.  What great encouragement! Whether we’re in Idaho or India, there is true joy in surrendering to a Savior who loves us deeply. 

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