I want to tell you a story about a group of people in the Bible who were having a tough time with fear. Their story is found in the book of ACTS. If you look in the Bible, you will find that the book of Acts is about the beginning of the Christian Church and it all started after Easter when Jesus was taken up to heaven.
At that time in history the world was a scary place for the new Christians. The Romans were taking over all the cities and the army was always present. The Jewish rulers were trying to stop Jesus’ followers and their message. They had just tried to kill Jesus and there was a fear that they would try to kill everyone who worked with him. In reality, the disciples were afraid for their lives.
But before Jesus left them, he gave a promise. It is found in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This promise was hard to understand at the time. The disciples were watching their best friend and teacher leave them. They didn’t have anyone to tell them what to do, where to go, what to believe. They were afraid and all alone. Do you know what they did when Jesus left? They went back to their safe-house to hide. They stayed together, praying and hiding. The Bible says that there were about 120 people together and they didn’t know what to do next. They were very afraid and stayed to themselves and were all alone.
But a funny thing happened in midst of their fear and isolation. Just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit came. The power of God entered that room and changed the lives of Jesus’ followers forever! First there was a mighty wind blowing through the entire house. It must have been pretty scary to have a storm blowing through your house. But that wasn’t all that happened! Next, little flames of fire appeared over each person’s head. But then the most amazing thing happened. The Bible says in Acts 2:4 that “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in (different) tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Can you imagine what that must have been like? One moment the disciples are afraid and cowering in their home. The next minute they are speaking in new languages! Even better, they went outside and started speaking to the people in the streets. They told the gathering crowd about God’s amazing grace and love. They told about God’s forgiveness. They told about God’s gift of Jesus, his death, and that he was alive again! The same disciples who were afraid to go in public had now gone VERY public! At the end of their speech nearly 3000 people agreed to become followers of Jesus.
Jesus promised power and when the Holy Spirit came on that day, the disciples received amazing power. That power wiped out all their fear. They weren’t afraid of the Romans, the Jewish leaders, or their own loneliness! They had the power of God through the Holy Spirit. The Power of the Holy Spirit gave the Early Church Power!
We all have moments when fear enters our lives but God sends the Holy Spirit and sets us free from that fear. With God’s help we can face our fears and frustration with power and peace. The Power of the Holy Spirit Gives US Power!
That is good news for us. When we find that we have to make difficult decisions; like how to be honest with friends, or stand up to people who are lying and cheating, or being brave when our job is on the line, Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit can give us hope.
In Nairobi, Kenya where there are hundreds of thousands of children who have many reasons to be afraid. Over the past 20 years the AIDS virus has swept across the African continent. It has devastated entire villages. It has scattered families. It has destroyed lives. It has killed dreams and hope. Because of this horrible disease, many children have to live in orphanages. In fact, it is estimated that over a million children have been orphaned because of this terrible disease.
A million children: That is how many children in Africa live without their parents. Many of the orphaned children live in group homes with other children who have lost their families. They live in crowded rooms and crowded homes with many other children.
The children receive an elementary education whenever possible, but there are not very many who get to go to high school. And because of this, they don’t get very good jobs. Without parents to guide them, a full education, and a home of their own, their future is very uncertain. It has to be a very scary life.
But with God’s Power these children in Kenya can face their fears and sadness with power and peace. What excites me is that the Holy Spirit gives us Power to help the children of Kenya! With God’s Power, we can help the orphaned children understand God’s love. We can help them understand what it means to live a life of love. We can do this through prayer and through giving.
Over the next few weeks I want to share with you some very practical ways that can help some orphaned children in Kenya. I hope you will join me in this amazing journey.