“We don’t get to go to church because we live so far away from our village.”
These words were spoken by the Anti-Poaching and Security Staff of a Private Game Reserve in Botswana on a recent mission trip. They lived and worked for months on end before having the opportunity to return home to spend time with family and attend their local churches.
They shared this with us after we presented them with Bibles written in their native language - a gift they lined up expectantly to receive! This gift of the written, living, breathing Word of God meant so much to them in their solitude as they had to spend time away from their families and other believers. Imagine living the majority of your life away from your friends and family and how joyful it would be to get together three or four times a year. The Snowshoe Hare provides a look into breaking isolation and joining community.
Hares and rabbits are related, but there are some key differences. Hares tend to be larger than rabbits and have longer legs and bigger ears. When threatened, rabbits typically freeze and rely on camouflage, as compared to hares that use their big feet to flee at the first sign of danger. Rabbits are born blind and helpless, while hares are born fully furred and ready to run.
Because of this, the hare is generally independent from birth, with little need of others other than for nourishment.
The young hares hide in separate places during the day, only coming together for 5 to 10 minutes at a time to nurse. As babies, they spend the majority of their life in isolation.
Our interaction with the staff on the Game Reserve during our first ever “around the fire Bible reading” was amazing. The blazing fire on that cold winter night clearly illuminated what the Holy Spirit was doing. We understood the staff could not go to church because it was not possible to reasonably travel to in one day. But this exquisite platform provided us the opportunity to share that even though their idea of ‘church’ was on Sunday in the village far away, the real church was here in this gathering of believers. We joined in reading God’s Word, sharing devotions, and singing songs together in His praise. They were ecstatic as they grew to understand they could continue fellowship each night even if far from home.
The Snowshoe Hare and the reserve staff were alike in their isolation for most of their daily routines. But both also had the opportunity to come back together for essential nourishment - physically and spiritually.
Jesus shared an encouraging message letting us know we are never alone when we are together in Him.
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
In our individual lives, we are all called to serve in our own unique ways. Service can be an isolating calling and we may feel as though we are alone in our walk with Christ.
This shouldn’t make us despondent. We should be encouraged by the fact that Jesus promises to be with us no matter how small the group or how many are gathered. It is also important for us to gather at times in EKKLESIA to be replenished by the Lord as He provides for His people when we come together as the Body of Christ. God is bigger than brick and mortar; walls are not a prerequisite for His presence; followers do not need a roof to join together in song. Wherever you find yourself today, take comfort in knowing that YOU are the church and take the time to thank God that He has allowed you into His presence.
Responding in Prayer:
Gracious Father in Heaven thank You for loving me. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for me, and the Holy Spirit who now lives within me. Thank You for the wonderful encouragement of knowing that when I am with other believers You are with us. Thank You for always being here with me as we celebrate You. Amen.
Tito fell asleep in his fathers arms while we read God's word around the fire.
Picture courtesy: http://beauty-animal.blogspot.com/2013/03/beauty-of-animal-snowshoe-hare-snowshoe.html