Pastor Jim Haack is our guest author on today’s blog, with a story of redemption that is very appropriate during this Lent and Easter season.
Many stories in the Bible describe how God redeemed evil intentions and situations, turning them into surprising episodes of blessing. In Genesis, Joseph explained to his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, how God redeemed the situation by elevating Joseph to a leadership position that saved countless lives from starvation. In Numbers, God turned the curses of the false prophet Balaam into blessings on His people. And throughout the New Testament, God transformed the crucifixion of His Son Jesus into the means by which all people are redeemed from bondage to sin, death, and Satan. God can choose to turn any bad situation into a means of redemption. He can even take the destroyed motor of a car in Florida and use it to redeem souls trapped in a hellish bondage in Nebraska. Here’s how:
My son Caleb and his 25-year-old college friend Kaleb (!) wanted to visit a recent Concordia-Seward graduate friend of theirs over Spring Break in Florida. But Caleb’s 1999 Chevy Cavalier was, in his estimation, not reliable enough to make the 3,600+ mile round trip. We let him borrow my 2003 Mazda Protégé, and I would use his Chevy for the week while he was in Florida. But my Mazda, which had just gotten a tune-up two weeks before, needed new tires. As it turned out, I had new tires installed just hours before the guys would drive to Florida.
Off they drove. They made it to their destination, Vero Beach, with no problems, arriving in time to attend their friend’s church.
As they began to drive home, disaster struck. The car lost power, causing them to stop on the side of a road, unable to restart it. Phone calls to me kept me informed but completely unable to help, except to remind Caleb that his AAA membership allowed free towing to an approved service garage. To get back home would require renting a car, which could only be rented by someone age 25 or older. Kaleb was 25, and was able to rent a car from the local Hertz agency. Leaving the Mazda in Florida, they travelled back safely to Nebraska.
Realizing that I would need a car to drive after Caleb reclaimed his own car, I decided to rent a car locally for a week. This would buy some time for Kelly and me to shop for a replacement car. So we decided to rent from Hertz, at Eppley Airfield, the same agency where Caleb and Kaleb would return their rental. So I rented a Toyota Yaris for one week.
The week passed by and it was time to return the Yaris to Hertz. Kelly had to drive separate from me so I could ride back home with her after dropping off the Yaris. That’s when she told me that she wanted to see a special exhibit at the airport, as long as we were going there anyway. I agreed. She explained the nature of the exhibit:
An art major at UNO, Elisa Wolcott, personally crafted 2000 ceramic doves, each representing one victim of sex trafficking in the state of Nebraska. The doves are suspended from the ceiling on the upper level concourse at Eppley Airfield. Her endeavor is called “Restored Wings.” It calls attention to the plight of these victims in hopes that elected officials, law enforcement, the courts, and private citizens can bring an end to this hideous merchandizing of human beings. This project was recently covered in the Omaha World-Herald.
So I returned the Yaris to Hertz and walked over to the upper level concourse to meet Kelly at the exhibit. She suggested we take a cell phone picture, so we each took one. My phone’s camera has a higher resolution than hers, so I decided to post my photo online in the Facebook photo-sharing group I joined in December at the suggestion of BSLC member Stephanie Olson, called “Nebraska through the Lens.” It’s a group that has surpassed 100,000 members. Within two days of posting this photo online, it received over 1200 “Likes,” over 180 “Shares,” and dozens of comments, including a link to the “Restored Wings” group and a link to an article on sex trafficking in Nebraska. In other words, this issue “went viral” in only 48 hours, raising the public’s awareness of this issue exponentially! Many of those who responded knew nothing about this issue, or the work being done about it, before the posting. If this awareness campaign succeeds in rescuing even one person from this horrific kind of slavery, it will demonstrate once again that God can take any negative circumstance and redeem it for His holy purpose, often in completely unexpected ways.
A car “died” in traffic…to help free suffering people from slavery to human trafficking. Only God Himself can orchestrate the circumstances connecting these two vastly different problems in order for redemption to occur and His name to be glorified!
JH – 3/21/2016