Family Bible Study lesson for May 12: Ministry in Natural Disaster
April 26 2002 by James Baldwin , Acts 27:14,20,22-25,33-36; 28:2,7-10

Family Bible Study lesson for May 12: Ministry in Natural Disaster | Friday, April 26, 2002

Friday, April 26, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for May 12: Ministry in Natural Disaster

By James Baldwin Acts 27:14,20,22-25,33-36; 28:2,7-10

This past summer the church I serve surprised me and my family with a month long, fully funded sabbatical. As part of our trip we took a seven-day cruise on the Mediterranean. I was especially excited that our itinerary included a day in Malta.

I recalled how the natives of Malta treated Paul and his companions with great kindness and hospitality. I expected the same kind of warmth when we sailed into port. Instead, we found people to be rude and unhelpful. The employees at the Welcome Center neglected us. We were scolded by a bus driver for not having the proper change. We were chased out of cathedrals by guards who were anxious to close for their three-hour lunch break!

Perhaps a natural disaster really does bring out the best in people.

Disaster strikes (Acts 27:14,20) Paul was on his way to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. As he stood before Festus to defend himself against charges of preaching Christ, Paul appealed his case to the emperor himself (Acts 25:11-12). The journey was delayed by bad weather, keeping the ship in port along the coast of Crete. When a gentle south wind began to blow, the ship set sail for Italy. Before long they found themselves caught in a hurricane.

Those who have seen the movie "The Perfect Storm" may be able to visualize the terror of being on an open sea at the mercy of massive waves. With no sun or stars by which to navigate, the crew had no idea where they were, or where they were headed.

Encouragement given (Acts 27:22-25) In the midst of the storm Paul speaks words of encouragement. Paul's words were effective because he was struggling with them. "Everything will be fine!" can sound superficial and insincere from one not directly involved in a disaster. Paul's words also had significance because they had divine authority. The message of hope came from God, through an angel.

When we speak words that come from scripture and from the Holy Spirit, people will listen.

Finally, Paul demonstrated his own faith under tragic circumstances. Most people would affirm, "I would rather see a sermon than hear one."

Physical needs attended (Acts 27:33-36) After two weeks on a physical and emotional roller coaster, Paul does something very unspiritual. He breaks out the beanie-weenies and crackers, and serves lunch.

Often in times of crisis or disaster people fail to care for themselves. Depression and exhaustion can cause victims to forget to eat, drink, sleep and bathe. Sometimes the most loving thing we can offer is physical nourishment and rest. Crisis situations are usually not the best time to discuss deep theological truths. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

As you read this commentary I will be in Honduras with a group from my church, helping with recovery efforts following Hurricane Mitch. Pray that as we minister to physical needs, God will open doors for spiritual needs to be met.

Kindness shown (Acts 28:2, 7-10) The natives of Malta, who were not Christians, showed unusual kindness toward their shipwrecked guests. They built a fire to help warm and dry their soggy friends. One of the officials of the island showed great hospitality by opening his home to these strangers. When the weather finally broke, the natives of Malta provided Paul's crew with all the supplies they needed to complete their journey. Although they did not realize it, these "heathens" had become a part of God's plan to have Paul stand before Caesar to present the gospel.

When we show kindness and hospitality in the name of Jesus we also may be serving a greater good than we realize. Jesus said, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25:40).

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4/26/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , Acts 27:14,20,22-25,33-36; 28:2,7-10 | with 0 comments
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