Being involved in itinerant Christian work gives the opportunity to see God’s people at work in a wide variety of contexts and be encouraged by what’s going on.
Events organised by the Zacharias Trust are refreshingly different from most, given their focus on apologetics. Their recent ‘Why series’ event on suffering was another encouraging day. People travelled from far and near to hear talks from staff of the Zacharias Trust and Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
Suffering is such a difficult topic to tackle in terms of our own understanding, as well as in discussion with non-believers. How can a loving God allow pain? Where is God when illness or natural events cause devastation to our lives?
The day included four speakers, each talk being followed by questions. Amy Orr-Ewing spoke about suffering and decisions. She looked at the realities of sin and its impact on our actions. She reminded us that the Bible acknowledges the realities of life in a fallen world, with its sorrows, disappointments and pain.
American Nabeel Qureshi briefly outlined the struggle of his own conversion from Islam to Christianity. He brought us to fix our eyes on the God who knows our suffering, since Jesus experienced separation from God, physical pain and the weight of sin at the cross.
Nabeel described the struggle of wrestling over conflicting ideologies, and making a decision that would cost him not only his lifestyle, but his standing with family, friends and community. His book Seeking Allah, finding Jesus was the day’s top seller.
Following this, Sharon Dirckx looked at questions regarding natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis. She looked at these from the perspective of a world in which sin and corruption cause poverty and force communities to inhabit precarious locations.
She raised such questions as, ‘Would a volcanic eruption have been considered a disaster before the Fall? And ‘Would it have been observed safely from a distance and recognised as a testimony to the power of our Creator God?
The final speaker was Vince Vitale. He reminded us how small events in the course of history have changed the world and challenged assumptions about whether man’s way would have worked out better. He presented the challenging argument that, if men and women are willing to bring children into a fallen world as an act of love, then we cannot accuse God of evil when he does the same.
The day was a reminder that we have great reasons for the hope we have in Christ, even in the face of suffering. I spoke to at least one non-Christian present, who was eager to read the books on display to find out more. I am sure she was not the only one, and for that we give great thanks to God.
Ministry development manager at 10ofThose.