The end of the beginning

During our re-entry training in Fiji, Luther, the Year 13 Director said to us, “….know that chains and afflictions await.”

At the time, I found this statement irreconcilable:  many of us had just returned from local villages where living conditions were basic at best, and we were just two days away from our return to the comfort and wealth of Australia. Yet the warning came, ‘…chains and afflictions await’.

By the time I arrived home in Perth, I was already witness to the afflictions many team members were facing. Facebook post after Facebook post told of struggles with identity, culture shock and a trust in our Lord and Saviour. It seemed to me that we had just returned from a country of rich spirituality, and the desperate state of our home had come as a shock to many of us. 

Before I knew it, I too could feel the burden of the chains weighing me down and constraining me in ways I had never before considered. As I returned to work and carried on with my normal life I realised, even more, the desperate need my friends and co-workers have for a Saviour. Wherever I went I saw people defying their maker, shaking their fist in His face without any fear and my heart broke. I felt like grabbing people from the sidewalk and showing them that the only way to find forgiveness and satisfaction and purpose and joy is in Christ, but I couldn’t. Even the Christians around me seemed blind to the spiritual poverty of our nation. It made me want to return to Fiji where I was free to do these things and where it felt like God was actually using me.

With nowhere else to turn, I was finally brought to my knees in prayer and by God’s grace I have come to surrender myself once again to Him.  I have had to trust that He is in control. I have had to humble myself because without Him not a single soul would be saved – unchained and set free.

Australia needs Jesus, but without God’s intervention not a single soul can be saved. Each of us has been given a direct sphere of influence.

Reluctantly at first, and then with a great sense of joy, relief and freedom, I have realised that we simply have to be faithful to God, faithful with the people that He has given us to evangelise and He will work according to His will and good pleasure. 
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n the last couple of days I have found rest in the assurance that He will save His people despite me, despite us all. All we can do is ask that He uses us, you and me, to do His will; to bring His people home. Chains and afflictions will always await those who serve Jesus because they follow in His footsteps, but our God is gracious. He is abounding in love. He is the author of salvation.

Our experience in Fiji taught us many things, though perhaps nothing bigger than allowing us to realise that our own nation is lost. And yet there is hope – God himself has been on mission all along. By His grace and for His own purposes he has saved us; we just need to humble ourselves and trust that he will use us according to his perfect will.

Our time in Fiji might be over – but the mission has only just begun.

By Samantha Evans (pictured - third from left)