Charleston, South Carolina

This is a featured post by Joel Kimpela. Joel is a senior in the MSB, hails from the great state of Texas and is a lifegroup leader. 

This is a featured post by Joel Kimpela. Joel is a senior in the MSB, hails from the great state of Texas and is a lifegroup leader. 

This past Friday morning I participated in a Psychology research study that took me through a series of surveys and questions about the brain. The study took about two hours and the only reason I did this was to earn the $10/hr they promised me (yes the struggle is real in college). While participating in the survey I could not help but notice that some of the questions involved God. So as a devoted Christian I marked all the right answers to substantiate my beliefs about God. Towards the end of the survey, they even asked me to draw an image of God protecting a child from danger. So I drew an Army airplane dropping bombs from the sky on a little boy, but I drew a cross protecting the boy from these bombs. But it never crossed my mind that the whole study focused on the existence of God and how He intervenes on our behalf during times of danger. They do not tell you this until the end of the research study.

After the study I could not help but think about what happened in Charleston, South Carolina this past week. I wondered where God was in all of this and what role if any he played in it. I know there have been many shooting tragedies just like this in recent years. But what did not sit well with me is that this instance happened in a church, a place where we draw our strength, protection and courage. Church - a place where we dwell in the presence of God. So how could He let this tragedy happen in such a place and why would He do so? I wrestled with these questions this past week and found it difficult to even draw strength from the Bible. Yes I doubted. I doubted that such a God would let this happen to his people who were devoted and gave their lives to Him. I honestly did not know why He would let such a thing happen.

But here is what I do know, I know that “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19). In Genesis, after his brothers perpetrated wrongs against him, the figure Joseph told them essentially, “What you meant for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20). The enemy of this world wants us to believe that God is not on our side during this time and he wants to put false claims in our mind that reject who God is in our lives. But my prayer is that we the children of God use this time remember and reflect on his goodness and sovereignty (Psalm 77:5-12).

Another thing I am confident of today is that the 9 Charleston victims are dwelling in the presence of the Lord, a place where there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" Paradise is what Jesus called it (Revelations 21:4). Which I am certain is a far better place than where our nation is at today. I also know that a tragedy such as Charleston should humble us to examine ourselves, to remember that our sins make us deserving of wrath at the hands of a holy God. But then, may we to remember that God gave his Son for us, that He became a refuge for us. Tragedy is an invitation to turn once again from our sin and find rest in God alone.

My prayer is that God would heal those who are hurting today and bring comfort to the victims’ family, and most importantly, that we would draw even closer to Him during this time.

“No matter what circumstances come our way, God is good, and may we never forget it.” - Yed Anikpo


Serving through Peace Corps

Today's guest blog was written by Lauren Schaffner (COL '13). She has been serving with Peace Corps for a year in West Africa.  

Today's guest blog was written by Lauren Schaffner (COL '13). She has been serving with Peace Corps for a year in West Africa. 

One year after graduation, I arrived in Togo, West Africa to begin Peace Corps service.  After ten months here, I still feel out of my element.  I do not feel very connected to my community or productive in regards to work or at ease in the culture.  In spite of the challenges and frustrations, I trust that God has me here for a reason and is using this experience for good.  He has certainly been teaching me a lot . . .

During my initial months in village, my house was gloomy and in need of drastic improvements.  My first response was to stress about how uncomfortable I felt.  Then I sensed the Lord challenging me to look to Him as my home.  Where can I find better rest and security than in my Shelter?  No physical environment can compare to the presence of my Rock and my Friend.  

God has used the foreignness of my surroundings to enhance my reading of Scripture.  Before I came here and took long walks on dirt roads, I didn’t fully grasp the value of foot washing.  I was not familiar with the sound of a pig’s squeal (the noise produced by a herd of demon-possessed swine must be unbearable).  I had never actually seen a hen gathering her chicks and hiding them under her wings.  I didn’t have concrete mental images associated with tending livestock or carrying water from a well.

My Father has also shown me how intimately He knows me and how good He is at taking care of me.  He knew that I would need some Christian friends, would be refreshed by the small grove of trees next to my house, and would benefit from proximity to a market that supplies fruits and vegetables.

He is reminding me that faith is not about how I feel.

This experience has been tough so far.  And there are days when I would prefer to be anywhere else.  I could pack up and leave, but what kind of response would that be when I truly believe that God led me here?  So I have been dwelling on James 1:2-4:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” 

It may not always be evident to me why He has me here, but this time is a gift.  I can rejoice in knowing that Jesus is walking with me and refining me through it.