Lent: Read, Receive, Renew

Maria Niechwiadowicz


I was thrilled to see the newest edition of The New World Outlook this week, published by Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church! This edition contains reflections based on the World Council of Church’s statement on mission and evangelism, “Together Towards Life.” In December, I was asked to submit an article sharing my thoughts on the presence of the Holy Spirit within mission. Being able to reflect on the presented piece of theology in light of my own experiences in the world and within Guyuan was perfect to ending my first semester as a Global Mission Fellow. It provided a chance to recognize how I had grown over the previous 4 months and how my idea of mission had adapted.

However, receiving the publication this week, and reading the words that the Lord had put in my heart two months ago, brought tears streaming down my face. My tears were not tears of joy, but tears of shame and guilt. It made me realize that since coming back from Taiwan, my heart had been hardened to China. I have been living in confusion, bitterness, and ignorance…yearning for what I had experienced in Taiwan. Rather than fueling the growth that I had attained last semester, I have regressed. I have been ignoring the Holy Spirit here. I have fallen into the trap again. I am unworthy.

But within these tears of shame, I realize what a blessing! What a blessing to be reminded of how the Spirit had been working in me. What a blessing to receive these words now, when I so needed to be renewed. Once again, the Holy Spirit surprised me. And yes, I am unworthy, but that’s ok because that is what this holy season of Lent is all about…recognition that we are unworthy without Christ, for he will make us clean through the power of His sacrifice!

I encourage you to read the this new edition of New World Outlook to see how the Lord is moving within our world (simply click on the link). I encourage you to read and reflect on “Together Towards Life,” which can be downloaded on the cover page. I encourage you to simply read and receive. Sometimes I think we do too much talking to God, when really we should be listening. I encourage you to try to listen this week. What is God trying to do in your life? What is he trying to tell you about sacrifice or love or your relationship with Him? Lent is a 40 day journey, but it is never too late to jump in.

This week I pray with Daniel in Chapter 9,

“Ah Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name…O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. Oh Lord, hear; Oh Lord, forgive; Oh Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!”