Jun 11, 2020 | 3 min read | Dave Patty
What do you do when the distance decreases?
A common theme of the current pandemic is the need to create space. Greater distance decreases the chances of the coronavirus spreading. But, these same restrictions produce less distance at home. Families have been forced to spend extended time together, in the same space, without much of a break. School, work, and social interactions all take place from the confines of home.
For some, this can amplify the dysfunction of a family, increasing the tension and stress between its members. This was especially true for Tomas, a 19-year-old student in Slovakia. The oldest of 9 children, his father passed away from cancer three years ago, leaving his mom to care for the needs of their family alone. Now, all of them were at home, without a dad, and Tomas was thrust into a role of leadership that he didn’t really want.
Watching this from afar, JV missionary Mike Sullivan began meeting with him daily over social media, challenging him to turn to God and let these unexpected pressures shape rather than break him. After a few weeks of fighting, Tomas began to respond, turning from areas of sin in his life and learning to walk closely with his heavenly Father.
This began to transform his relationships at home as he became the channel of God’s father heart to his siblings. They listened to him pray out loud to his heavenly Father and began to ask him the reasons for the sudden change in his life. Several weeks later, he was able to share the gospel with his 11-year-old brother, Jakub, and lead him to faith in Jesus Christ.
Today, Tomas and his entire family would say that the crisis has actually brought great blessing to their home. The social “un-distancing” allowed a different kind of virus to spread—the life-on-life transmission of the gospel and the healing power of God’s father heart.
The future is still uncertain; the world pandemic has not been resolved. But, in the midst of much bad news, the good news of Jesus shines out like light against a background of darkness.
Mike “un-distanced” by coming close into daily contact with a needy young man. Tomas “un-distanced” by stepping into the needs of his family with the healing power of Jesus. But most significantly, God is always active at reaching across the distance to draw us closer to himself.
Grateful for a God who comes near,
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