Introduction

[Cover of Beyond Our Fears LG]

What would happen in your neighborhood or your church if an unusual number of people were hospitalized? What if a pandemic, a natural disaster, or an act of terrorism hit your community? Would you seek safety, or would you take risks in order to help others?

Most of us would rather not think about scenarios like that, at least not right now. But governments and municipalities are creating plans to be prepared for each of these crises. Shouldn’t we, as ordinary people of faith, be spiritually prepared? Why not know before the crisis what kinds of actions and attitudes are most consistent with our faith? How is God calling us to be good stewards of the future?

For several years, medical authorities have been warning that the world is due to suffer a flu virus on a global scale, equal to or greater than the international pandemic of 1918. They warn that, despite our advanced medical technology, thousands of people will die, and many more will become sick. People will fear for their health. Naturally, people will want to protect themselves.

How will the church respond to a flu pandemic? Do we have a plan? Will we retreat in fear, or are we ready to be God’s light in the midst of suffering?

Crisis has always been a fact of human existence on this planet, and it can hit without warning. Unfortunately for us in North America, our technology and our wealth have led us to believe that we are safe; still, crises do come to our doorstep, as we have seen in Hurricane Katrina of 2005 and the SARS crisis of 2003.

In other countries, people are living with crises that are hard for us to imagine. People in sub-Saharan Africa are coping with the huge AIDS pandemic—and with other health crises such as malaria and food shortages. The people of Southeast Asia are still coping with the unspeakable damage of the 2006 tsunami. People in Colombia, Iraq, and Palestine live in the midst of armed conflict.

This book has been written not to raise our fears, but to do the exact opposite: to prepare the church to shine as God’s light in the midst of such crises, to respond to our call to be people of healing and hope. Even if these crises never occur this book will help us think through our mission as Christians. God calls us to join the work of healing and hope in our families, neighborhoods, and world, regardless of circumstances.

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