Tag Archives: Christianity

A God Who Rescues: The Attack and the Prayer

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In my Junior year of college, I had one of the most fearful, and yet awesome experiences of my life.  Awesome because it was the beginning of my understanding of God’s personal love for me.  Fearful, well that you will quickly understand.

Early one Sunday morning, I walked across the University campus on the way to the Student Union where I planned to study before heading off to church.  A man walked briskly ahead of me into the Hall where classes were usually going on, but on Sundays was empty, and he let the door slam right in my face.  I decided he must be having a bad day, and I continued walking through the Hall which was attached to the Student Union. He turned into an empty classroom, presumably to study, and I walked on, thinking about all I planned to do that day.  

Suddenly, I heard the sound of someone running behind me, and then felt an arm go around my waist and a fist fly into my eye.  I struggled to get free from the arm around my waist, and wrestled something out of his hand (later in the struggle I realized it was a table knife).  I yelled for help, but he told me to shut up or he’d hurt me. I believed him so I shut up.

I dropped my backpack to the floor in hopes he would grab my valuables and go; and I crumpled to the ground so he wouldn’t think I was going to try to hurt him, but he did not stop punching me, so I raised myself up again to do something, but I was shoved against the wall, hit again so blood was in my one eye, and my other eye was blinded by the swelling of the first blow, and everything was a blur to me now.  He pulled me into the room he first turned into and began strangling me on the ground and then tying my wrist to a table in the room.The thought that this was really a bad dream and not really happening came to me, and my thinking became clouded and like a swirl, but reality hit and I was again aware this was very real. What was I to do?

The room was unlit, but the morning sun broke through the window, and I was reminded that I never asked God to help me in this. So I did.  I prayed the most heartfelt prayer I have ever prayed and I prayed it out loud, “God help me!” And he did. Out of the chaos of my half-thoughts, God brought the first clear thought through to me.  He reminded me of a woman’s story that I heard on a radio program a few months earlier, and her question to her attacker, “Do you know Jesus?” So I asked my attacker that very question, “Do you know Jesus?”

He waited a second, and then said, “yes.”  That was not the response that I expected and so fumbled for my next words by asking him, “then why are you doing this to me?”

At this point, he began to gather his things, and said, “Just stay there, just stay there, I won’t hurt you.  Don’t leave, just stay there.” He got his stuff together, ran into the hallway, grabbed my backpack, and ran out the door through which we had both entered the building.  When I was sure he was gone, I ran the other way, where I knew there would be people to help. I ran through the Student Union to the Information Desk, where the staff saw me coming and ran to help me as I collapsed at their feet.  They were awesome and helped me through the shock and police report and trip to the hospital for the fractured cheekbone I had received.

Though this was a traumatic experience, it was a turning point in my faith.  My parents were out of the country at the time, or I would have gone home that night of the attack and wouldn’t have pressed on.  In the following days, I had to face my fears head-on. I walked through that very building the next day only to see my blood still on the floor as people nonchalantly walked over it on their way to class.  I went to my classes despite my pain. I took my tests while my brain was still hurting and my eye still swollen. I persevered. I chose not to live in fear, but to trust God to fight for me.  Thankfully, I had an entire faith community come around me and help me through it all, and one truly beautiful best friend who listened to me process a lot.

I saw how I had been trusting in my own strength.  Truly, as soon as I recognized the Lord in the middle of this situation, he rescued me from it.  Take time to read Psalm 71. I believe it. I feel like I own that Psalm! I had been focusing on very foolish things up until this time; this put my life into perspective. Lives are fragile. I began to live my life for God because I suddenly realized how I wanted to be with Him in the end, and there is no certainty as to how soon that will come for us.  I would never have chosen in advance to be attacked, but looking back, I would never change it happening, because the good that God brought from it was so life-changing and so very good for the benefit of my soul.

“Bend low to my whispered cry and save me from all my enemies!  You’re the only place of protection for me.” –Psalm 71:2-3 TPT

Maureen Silveyra

Copyright 2020

Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ThePassionTranslation.com.

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Don’t Despise a Tiny Start

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Is there a problem in this world that needs your help?  Is it bigger than you can conquer?

I remember when I heard about the great devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast.  It made me want to do something.  What I wanted to do was pick up and go down for a long time to help people rebuild and recover, but I was only one thirty-year-old woman who didn’t really know anything about disaster relief…at all.  So what could I do?  Where could I start?  I really did not know, so I did nothing.

I sat and did do nothing…until Pastor Ian from my church asked the congregation for volunteers to help out with answering phones to help the Red Cross raise funds for disaster relief for the victims of the hurricane.  That was something I could do.  It was better than doing nothing, so I signed up for answering calls early in the morning along with Ian and another friend, Shannon, from our fellowship group.  We went to the radio station and jotted down payment information for the phone call donations that came in.  After our time was over, Pastor Ian, Shannon and I went to McDonalds for a coffee and breakfast, and a talk that would maybe change the course of all of our lives a bit.

We sat and discussed how satisfying it was to help.  But I still couldn’t shake the idea that I didn’t do much that day, I wanted to do more.  But how?  I expressed this nagging thought to my friends, and they thought about that, too.

A month or two passed.  Surely it was beyond the time I could be helpful there.  Then one day, Pastor Ian announced that they made a connection with churches working down in Mississippi.  These churches had been bringing the needed food in to hurricane survivors and were going to be moving on the colossal task of gutting houses and rebuilding.  Our church was going to send a team down.  I made a deal with God.  I would go down if He would work out my schedule to go.  In another month or two, I gave my notice at work for a different purpose—to move to another state out West.  Before I left, however, I would take a week to fulfill my vow to God to go to Mississippi.  A group from our church would soon be going again to help for a week, and I signed up to go.  My friend Shannon from our church group had already quit his job to go down indefinitely.

When I went down, we all worked very hard.  The devastation was great even several months after the disaster, and the need of people tugged on my heart.  I had planned on moving to South Dakota in another couple of weeks for ministry there, but I ended up taking a longer detour to help with the immediate needs on the Gulf Coast.  The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind…how could I pass by the desperate need here to go on to another “call of God”?

I spent half a year serving with awesome people, hundreds coming in every week from all over the United States to help, some there for a little longer than others, and all bringing a lot of hope to a largely devastated group of hurricane survivors.  We gutted, repaired, painted, dry walled and roofed houses and reminded people of the goodness of God.

Is there a need in this world that is knocking on the door of your heart?  Don’t be afraid of its size.  Dream big and don’t despise small starts.  Just do something toward meeting that need.  Answering phones was not how I had envisioned helping, but it planted a seed.  That was the beginning toward doing what was on my heart to do, though the problem of how to get there seemed insurmountable.

A little step can lead to another, and another, until you are actually making an impact on the world around you in the way that you had dreamed.  And others will follow.  The breakthrough you bring will bring others around you who can go beyond that door you’ve pushed through.  Pastor Ian’s connection to the disaster relief in Mississippi brought Shannon through that door– he stayed there helping in disaster relief efforts for a long time.  Eventually Ian’s efforts brought me through as well, not to mention many, many other members of the church who were able to tangibly help bring healing to a hurting place.

In the book of Zechariah, chapter 4 (of the Bible), the prophet Zechariah has a God-given vision of what was happening in the spiritual realms in Jerusalem.  In reality their city was in devastation– they had returned from captivity to rebuild what had been great once and now stood in ruins.  Their leader, Zerubbabel, had laid the foundation of the temple in Jerusalem, but people were feeling overwhelmed with the task ahead.  Could it even be done?  Would what they could do even make a difference in Jerusalem and to the temple?  Then an angel asked Zechariah “Who despises the day of small things?”  Were they despising the little bit they had begun? Possibly—it is easy to do!  God encouraged them; the temple would be rebuilt–even in Zerubabbel’s life time.

How would that happen?  “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”  And that is for us, too.  How will we ever accomplish bringing change for good to this world when so much is against us?  Not by might, nor by power.  Just by the Mighty Spirit of our Great God.  That’s all.  Don’t despise the day of small things.

 

–Maureen Silveyra

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A Letter to Ask Your Forgiveness

Dear Native American/ First Nations Friends, and to those who do not want to call me friend,

I am writing this because I felt that God was saying this was necessary.  There are more wounds than what I will say, but these are the wounds I will address on behalf of Christians in America.

Please forgive my nation.  Forgive us for believing that our culture was superior to your own.  Forgive the Christians in this nation for forcing our culture on you and saying it was God’s way.  For not being wise enough to discern what was our culture from what was God’s way even though we had been shown grace when our peoples first became Christians—this was when the followers of Jesus had the grace to say that the new the European followers of Jesus did not have to obey all of the cultural practices of the Jewish people to worship God—that they should only have to give up and change a few things that related back to their past religions and take on a heavenly culture.  We did not say that to you.

Did we tell you there was a better culture than our own that we should all have to change to follow?  Our Great Heavenly Father’s culture and his ways?  That those ways are love?  Did we forget to say that and show that?  I am so sorry.  Did we fail to understand God’s words in Revelation where all tribes and nations were gathered before God to honor and praise him?  Do all “tribes and nations” mean that we all looked the same and sang him the same songs?  Did we fail to say you can sing your songs to Him your own way?  With your own instruments?  In your own language? In your own clothes or regalia?  I am so very sorry because I believe we have broken our own God’s heart by crushing you with our own vanity—you, a beautiful people whom he made to honor him with their own song, not ours.  Please forgive us.

We have been very unkind brothers and sisters at times.  Please know that our Father God is far, far more loving than his children have represented him to be.  Some of my nation still does not see what we need forgiveness for.  Can you forgive that too?  Can you find it in your heart to love us with a love and forgiveness as great as our God’s?

 

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Hurt in the Church

I love my church family.  Always.  But I have had more than my share of hurtful experiences from the church as well.  Some of the most hurtful people that I have met and known have been leaders in churches (though I have also had my share of wonderful leaders as well!) and I wonder how can that be when we are meant to love each other.  But people are not our God.  God is our God.  So I have kept my eyes on Him at hard times.  My kids fight a lot.  They do not always reflect my values.  But they are still part of my family…I am not kicking anyone out of the family!  That is how it works.  We don’t usually blame mom and dad because our sister hit us.  Blaming God for hurts from Christians isn’t the best way, either.  They are growing and learning just like we are.

What has been your experience in the church?

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The High Calling of Waste Management

I heard a loud crash of metal, and looked up to find the origin of this unpleasant noise.  I scoped out my surrounding to find that there was a garbage truck, emptying the dumpster from a nearby business into the large garbage truck, but it was losing a lot of garbage as it was doing its work, and making a very big mess in the process of cleaning up the garbage of others.

A reality hit me here.  We often do the same thing with the messes in the lives of people around us.  People do things that hurt us or they live a destructive life that does harm to others.  Likely we, ourselves, have hurt others and done things that brought destruction to others lives to differing degrees…after all, that is what sin is, and we are “all sinners.”

But what happens when someone asks for forgiveness, maybe cleans up their act, gets their life straight, starts making healthy and not destructive choices?  Well, in essence, they have picked up their trash, and have put it in the dumpster, for removal.

But what happens next is what I began pondering.  Like the garbage worker, we may facilitate taking out other people’s trash–especially if we are in ministry in the church in any way.  Did you know the job as garbage disposer is an important one?  This may not seem like a great responsibility, but it is.  It is in how we deal with the garbage, that we either make a big mess out of it for others, or we neatly assist in bringing the trash to where it belongs in the first place.

I Corinthians addresses the sexual sin of one of the members of the fellowship, and essentially says that that sin needs to be “cleaned up.”  The Apostle Paul said that the church needed to “expel the immoral brother” from the fellowship.  The church was being affected by the garbage of sin within the community.  But it would seem from 2 Corinthians, that the guy at fault here actually turned his life around and was grieved by his actions when the community of believers expelled him from their company.  So he had thrown his garbage in the dumpster, finally.  This believer had put it in the right place and was ready to get rid of sin in his life.

Now comes the reaction—this is where the trash workers come in.  The community of believers did not seem to know what to do with this response.  Paul had only told them to expel the man from their lives, but didn’t give them instructions about what should happen if he turned his life around.  Now what?  Do you keep on punishing someone?  Do you bring up their sin?  Do you treat them badly because of their past?  Do we continue to ignore someone after they have made things right?  How we deal with the sins of others is so very important.  This was the point at which they would decide if they would throw the trash of another man on the ground too, and dispose of the sin badly, or if they would totally and neatly pick up his mess and take it out of the town.

Paul said that a little bit of yeast works through the whole batch.  Unforgiveness is like that, too.  If we do not forgive when someone turns their hearts back to God’s standards and back to his people, then we are the ones that have a garbage problem now, not them.  We are making a mess out of the garbage that was taken to the right place in the first place.

What should our response be?  Paul let the Corinthians know the proper response.  He said, “If anyone has caused grief…the punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.  Now, instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2: 5-8 NIV)
Love is the right response in waste management.

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