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Weary and burdened

Just before summer, our field leader Joel asked me to preach several times in the ICF of Dakar, where he is pastor. He would spend his summer in the States for the wedding of his 22-year-old son. I decided to preach a series of three sermons on the words of Jesus come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The week after my first sermon shocking news came from America, the son of Joel and Elin suddenly passed away!

Josiah was jogging with his fiancée when he suddenly collapsed. Despite resuscitation and emergency services being quickly at the scene he could not be revived. No cause for the cardiac arrest was found at the autopsy. The shock was overwhelming for Joel, Elin and their two daughters; instead of the wedding of their son and brother they attended his funeral!

The loss was deeply felt by the ICF community as well. I preached the first Sunday after the death of Josiah, and I was grateful that I did not have to choose the text. In the first sermon we had stopped at the invitation of Jesus: “Come to me.” Inspired by the example we read in Matthew 9, where one Jairus and a woman whose name is not mentioned come to Jesus, we learned that there is nothing that needs to hinder us from coming to Jesus. Jesus invites us, and as we hear His call, we are welcome to come. Listen to the sermons here.

This Sunday was part two was on: “all who are weary and burdened.” It was not difficult to realize that we all are weary and burdened. Now that the suffering had come so close, no one could deny it: it is impossible to escape pain and sorrow. It is impossible not to become tired or burdened. The strong nor the righteous, no one is excepted. We all carry a burden with us. And Jesus? He’s concerned about us. He knows that the journey is hard and is afraid that we might become exhausted on the way. Therefore, we can be open and honest with Him and talk with Him about our burden.

The first Sunday that Joel and Elin were back in Dakar, I was again scheduled to preach. Part three of the series on, “I will give you rest.” Jesus’ invitation gives us a special opportunity. Besides all the ways that are already there to find peace, Jesus provides us with an alternative. We can come to Him for rest. It does not mean that we have no setbacks or problems. It is all about an encounter. An encounter with Jesus. It is not in religion nor in sound theology or correct procedures, but in a relationship. In this relationship we find rest, because then we will get to know Jesus as someone who is meek and humble of heart. In Him we will find rest for our souls.

It has not been an easy month, and we can’t yet see the end of the valley we’re walking with Joel and Elin. But all the time there is that possibility of an encounter. And it is this encounter with Jesus, where we find strength every day. Strength to share His love and hope in all we do here in Senegal.


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