Hope, a firm and secure anchor .

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By Dr. Joe Wright

As Christian Veterinary Mission moves forward into a new fiscal year, we have been challenged to focus on the theme of hope.  A hope that is characterized in Hebrews 6:19 as a firm and secure anchor for our soul.

And yet, as we are confronted with unending assaults on the family, morality, safety and common sense, it is not surprising that some face a crisis of faith.  The age old question arises; “How could a good and loving God allow the pain and suffering of this world?”

As Christians we confess to believe in the sovereignty, power and provision of our Lord and Savior.  But do you ever sense that your anchor has shifted in the tumultuous sands of this age?  Have you ever felt your faith grow wobbly?  The father of a sick child, recorded in the ninth chapter of Mark, expressed those feelings when he cried out; “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

In that father’s anguished words there is a kernel of hope.  I believe hope is God’s concession to our sometimes weak and wavering faith – a bridge between our limited human capacity to believe and the faith which is a gift of God.

We all understand the principle of a precursor.  When sunlight irradiates, cholesterol compounds in our skin create a chain reaction which results in the production of essential D vitamins. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord makes a solemn promise of a plan for our lives that includes hope and a future.  I believe hope is God’s precursor of our faith.

When hope is irradiated by the Son through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, when it is incubated in the crucible of His Word, bathed in prayer and passed through the filters of discipleship and fellowship, hope is transformed.

We can be confident in that transformation.  We can trust the anchor because of the definition we find in Hebrews 11:1.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

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Practical Prayer for Those Who Are Overseas

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Prayer is the foundation of the ministry of Christian Veterinary Mission. When we pray we are engaging with God in what He is doing. When we pray, God does miraculous things.  But sometimes, when praying for those overseas, it can  be a challenge to figure out how to pray powerfully and practically .  Here are some simple ideas from CVM field staff that can give you specific ways to intercede for them and for their families.

Protection and God’s guidance: Some veterinarian professionals serve in rural and rustic communities and where there is political unrest. Pray for God’s hand of protection over their lives, profession and families.

Boldness in sharing Christ: Sharing faith in a different culture and language is a struggle and requires and extra level of discretion where there is oppression or governmental pressures. Pray for specific and influential encounters with those who God will lead them to.  Pray for a spirit of confidence and humility as they share Christ.

Physical and Spiritual Health:  Working in a different land brings all sorts of bugs, ailments, and health challenges that we may not have at home.  There is often a higher level of spiritual oppression  that can also be disheartening.  Pray for physical protection and intervention when necessary.  Pray that they would see God’s hand at work daily and be encouraged to be a part of God’s bigger plan.

Open doors: God brings people together in surprising and often unexpected ways to accomplish His purposes.  Pray for those open doors for new relationships and ministry.

Favor with government authorities: Favor is built upon relationships.  Pray that positive relationships can be built with governmental gatekeepers. That they would see the positive results of veterinarian services in their areas and that  governmental leaders would be used by God to open more doors for veterinarian professionals to share their faith through their profession.

A heart of love: Working with people is sometimes more difficult that working with animals.  Pray for an extra measure of grace and humility as they work with people.  Pray that they would be able to see people from God’s perspective and be encouraged that they are being used to change lives.

Compatibility with fellow workers:  Those who serve internationally are created to be strong leaders. They are also passionate about what they do.  This sometimes clashes with others who they work with.  Pray for a spirit of partnership and support for one another. Pray that they would not get caught up in the personality conflicts and focus on what God is accomplishing through each unique individual and their calling.

Discipline in their devotional life: Just like all of us, regular spiritual feeding in God’s word and church fellowship can be a challenge.  Pray that they would have regular times of spiritual nourishment and that church would be a time of joy for them, even when the language is a barrier.

Financial and prayer support:  International workers rely upon a solid team of people who intercede for them in prayer and who support them financially.  They need partners who are senders. You are an important part of that team.  Pray specifically for more people to come alongside each worker to see God’s kingdom extended.

Find out more about how you can support Veterinarian Professionals as they share their faith across the world.  https://cvmusa.org/serve/long-term/current-field-staff/

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Hope the Inextinguishable Flicker

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Success. Personal, physical, and professional success…my livelihood, passion, dedication, talent, and identity. I was losing it… all of it.

I was a wife and mom, working full time and attending night classes four days a week. I knew what I wanted and thrived as a student graduating top of my class. Within a week, I started working at a local clinic that recruited me while I was a student, and within six months, I bought the practice from the owner, hired more staff, and continued to build a very successful therapeutic massage practice for the next 10 years. I also served in the church choir, a weekly women’s group, and at one point, lead a team of 23 adults for a month long short-term mission trip to Mozambique, Africa.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But I experienced many trials as well. The loss of my 15-year marriage, navigating how to manage life as a single mom with a baby and young child, and physical health challenges. All of which contributed to me making the difficult decision to close my thriving practice after 10 years. My future was uncertain…

Life is filled with constant change, failed relationships, overwhelming responsibilities, stuff! What happens when things don’t go according to plan? Do we lose sight of hope?

Paul writes; “I pray that God the source of hope will fill you completely with joy and peace because you
trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Hope in God

Lee Strobel writes, “Hope is the inextinguishable flicker God ignites in our souls to keep us believing in the prevailing power of His light even when we are surrounded by utter darkness.”

It’s the quiet resolve He hard wires into our spirit that clings to the seemingly impossible truth that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” and that, in the grand scheme of things, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” –Romans 8:28Romans 8:37. Through His Spirit, we build faith in an everlasting hope that fills our soul with His presence and love for us.

Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” In the next verse it says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” In other words, Hope doesn’t waver or get lost in circumstance because it is rooted in the faithfulness of God. Why do we have faith in God? Because He never fails!

Faith – The Full Assurance of Hope

Do we fully understand the relationship between full assurance of faith and full assurance of hope? Is there a difference? I would suggest that Hope is our participation in action of faith that focuses on the future. In biblical terms, wherever there is full assurance of hope, there is faith. Faith is the full assurance of hope and biblical faith is a confident expectation and desire for good things in the future.

You can see this in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

The relationship of Faith and Hope can become clearer to us when doubt enters the picture. Doubt is the enemy of biblical faith and can destroy our confidence if we allow it. By placing our Hope in God, hope becomes an essential part of faith. Let’s look at the above passage more closely to illustrate the point. What happens when we take away hope in Hebrews 11:1? We don’t simply lose the definition of hope, we lose the meaning of faith.

Biblical hope allows us to look away from our narrow vision and opens us to a higher view point in the “full assurance of hope” – the expectation of great things from God. – Hope in God!

Hope is the sense of expectancy and optimism that God wants to instill in all of us who love Him and have faith in Him. It’s an overriding confidence He gives, reminding us that, even in the midst of our greatest problems, God is still with us — and He is greater than any challenge we might face.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
 
Debbie Roadruck is the U.S. Ministry Event Coordinator at CVM.  Debbie and her husband Doug, serve with multiple church ministries and enjoy backpacking in the Pacific Northwest. Email: droadruck@cvmusa.org
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HOPE – Wishes vs. Expectations

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I had many frustrations learning the language when my family and I moved to Nepal to serve as CVM fieldworkers there. But one of the most frustrating for me was the fact that they use the same word for “hope” and “expect.”  These were not interchangeable in my mind.  For instance, “I hope it will be sunny on Saturday but I expect it will rain just like the last three days.”   Or “I can hope to win the grand prize with a raffle ticket, but I don’t really expect to win.”  It made no sense to me that the same word could be used in both ways.

I continued to be frustrated, until an elderly woman finally taught me how to understand this.  Prem, a grandmother, was the only Christian believer in her village. We met at church. She would walk two hours, on a path that would take me three, each way to church, every week, to hear the Word of God. She was illiterate and there was no other believer in her village to read the Bible to her.  She and her family were quite poor, living in a mud house where they survived with a combination of a small subsistence farm and working as day laborers in other fields during the day.

Prem often sat next to me at church, on the hard concrete floor, with women sitting on the right half of the church and men on the left.  A good friend of mine named Sue was a missionary doctor in the same village where I lived.  Often Dr. Sue would have to work all night at the mission hospital and then climb up the hill to church in the morning.  Sometimes she would start to fall asleep during the two-hour service. I would have just let her sleep for a few minutes, but Prem would hit her hard to wake her up because Prem valued the Word of God so much she didn’t want Dr. Sue to miss any of it!

One week Prem came to our home after church to share her exciting news. The women’s group in her village was starting a literacy class. “Finally, at long last, I will be able to read God’s Word!” she said.

Although I did not say it aloud, I was thinking, “How can I help her with her inevitable disappointment? She will not be able to learn to read the Bible in a basic literacy class.”

The Nepalese Bible was similar to a King James Version, filled with unfamiliar terms and very small print. Nepal had no Message or Good News version.  Prem was a grandmother, and probably had cataracts from a lifetime of fieldwork without sunglasses or, at the very least, needed eyeglasses. Prem was in a low caste or “untouchable” ethnic group so would not be allowed in the home of the high caste woman who would teach this class. Since Prem didn’t know the alphabet yet, let alone how to hold a pencil, she would probably spend most of her time learning to make basic letters.

After working in the fields all day, Prem carried her Bible to class six nights a week for several months. She sat in the dark outside the teacher’s home with only candlelight as she tried to make out the letters. At the end of the course, I visited her in her home.

Prem was very excited. After dinner, she pulled out her Bible and began to read, and read, and read. She read more fluently than many educated people I knew.  This was a miracle. There is no way that she could have learned to read like that without divine, supernatural intervention.  God heard her prayer and answered by giving her the desire of her heart, to read the Bible for herself.

Prem both hoped and expected to be able to learn to read the Bible, and she did.  Prem had the kind of hope that truly can be an “anchor for our soul” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV).  Her hope was based on faith, not some kind of a wishful thinking, the way I was using the word.  For her, hope was confidence and expectation that God would answer her prayers. Hope and expectation were exactly the same.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts” (Romans 5:5 NKJV). This is the kind of hope we can all have in our Savior. He who has poured His love out for us will not disappoint.

  • Are “hope” and “expectation” the same for you in daily life? In your spiritual life? Do you hope or expect to pass that next exam or get that job you want?
  • Have you known people who have complete confidence that their prayers will be answered? Did you think the answers were miraculous?
  • What does it mean to hope for something? Is it “waiting with expectation” or is it daydreaming? Do you have the kind of hope that can be an anchor for your soul?

Dr. Karen L. Stoufer, DVM

Karen grew up in California, attended veterinary college at Cornell University and practiced in small animal clinics in upstate New York and the California Bay Area, and had a house-call practice until she and her family went to Nepal as CVM fieldworkers in 1990.  In 2003, they returned to the USA and currently works in the CVM Seattle office as Asia Regional Director and Training Director.

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