Published by Barnabas International • PO Box 11211 • Rockford, IL 61126 • Volume XII • No. 11 • November 1998
LEE HOTCHKISS, Executive Director <> LAREAU LINDQUIST, Founder
"Jesus must needs go through Samaria" (John 4:4).
A couple of weeks ago Evie and I were in Dallas for some meetings. One morning we were invited to breakfast at the home of some long-time friends, John and Lois Cowles. She has recently gone through a severe bout with cancer including breast surgery and chemotherapy. During her recovery time, she penned these words . . .
I was reading Jesus "must needs go through Samaria" to reach one woman who would reach a town. I thought of the many things we, too, "must needs go through." Now I think of the people we've met and spoken to because I must needs go through cancer.
In Jesus' day Samaria was not a friendly place to visit. People would try to avoid Samaria in their travels. They would go around the area rather than through it. Even now in the twentieth century it is still risky and dangerous there. Several years ago a group of us were visiting Israel. We were given clearance to drive through Samaria on the way up to Galilee from Jerusalem. As we drove through Samaria, our vehicle was pelted with stones. It wasn't terribly serious, just pesky and annoying. Historically it has been troublesome there. Yet Jesus went through Samaria on a ministry assignment to visit with the woman at the well and to give her the life-changing hope of the Gospel. To get there, Jesus must needs go through Samaria. At the conclusion of His earthly ministry, He spoke these words to His followers . . .
"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Note that the Great Commission specifically told the early disciples to go and minister in Samaria. For us, too, we must take the Gospel message to dangerous and unpleasant areas. And as we go, along with the message of Christ, we bring hope and compassion to hurting, neglected people. In the nineties, there are still a lot of Samarias where we are commissioned to go in Jesus' Name.
Tonight we are wrapping up a conference here in the Washington, D.C. area. The other evening Gary Franz gave his testimony. He and his wife were serving Christ in Indonesia. While there, his wife gave birth to a baby boy with hydro-encephalitis. He is now nine years old and severely disabled. He has the mental capacity of a nine month old baby. He will probably never progress beyond what he has already developed. Obviously this has been, and continues to be, very difficult for Gary and his family. Yet it has opened up a lot of ministry opportunities. He has worked with Joni Earickson Tada in her ministries to physically challenged individuals and their families.
Barbara Johnson, prolific author and Christian conference speaker, has had to face severe trauma within her family including the following: a severe automobile accident which threatened to leave her husband in a permanent vegetative state; the death of a son in Vietnam; the death of another son in an automobile accident in Canada; and the discovery of a son living in a homosexual lifestyle.
Even as Jesus must needs go through Samaria, so you and I often must needs go through our own Samarias to reach people . . . to minister to people.
Lois Cowles must needs go through cancer.
Gary Franz and his family must needs go through handicap and disability.
Barbara Johnson must needs go through a lot of family pain.
But, in each case, they have become enormously effective in ministering to hurting people . . . and in ministering widely within the Body of Christ. As you must needs go through your own personal Samaria, be aware than an enlarged, empathetic, and effective ministry could be awaiting you as you move into the future.