BY JULIA O’CAREY
The other day I found myself rushing to pick up my daughter from school. I failed to make a complete stop at the stop sign and didn’t notice the police officer sitting in his car at the corner watching me. A few seconds later, I saw the lights in my rearview mirror. The police officer courteously informed me of my error and after what felt like a century of waiting, came back with a long slip of paper. How relieved I felt to get just a warning and see the $0.00 owed at the bottom of the slip. Was that grace he offered me? One often defines grace in this way, but I recently learned that grace is much, much more.
During Elder Louis Torres’ Week of Prayer at my home church, he quoted, “Divine grace is the great element of saving power. It is not merely God’s mercy and willingness to forgive, it is an active, energizing, transforming power to save,” (SDA Bible Commentary on Romans 3:24). Did you know that GRACE = TRANSFORMING POWER?
Now 2 Corinthians 12:9 makes perfect sense: “And He said to me, ‘My grace (power) is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” In one of my hardest trials, when my father was on his deathbed at the hospital, the Lord kept bringing this verse to my attention, in a devotional, through a text from a friend, and even from the pulpit that Sabbath. During that difficult time, God DID give me the power I needed to cope, persevere in prayer, and keep focusing on Him. His power (grace) was sufficient and is everything we need for every battle we fight with the evil one. He not only wants to forgive us when we fall, but He wants to transform us through His power, to give us victory through Him (see 2 Timothy 1:9). If we could overcome on our own, we would not need a Savior, but we can take hold of what God gives us freely, so we can have victory in Him.
Paul preached and prayed for others and witnessed lives changed. He boldly states in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” In the same way, we see God’s grace working mightily through the ASAP ethnic missionaries. Lives are being transformed every day! There is never enough room in the pages of this newsletter to share all the miraculous stories, but here are a few.
MR. WANLEI IN LAOS was vomiting and urinating blood. The doctors said he needed an operation immediately, but he was too afraid to go under the knife. Church Planter James Kai* heard the disheartening news and quickly gathered church members together to pray. They pled with the Lord to heal Mr. Wanlei. He agreed to the surgery. The next day, when he was wheeled in for the operation, the doctor first ran some tests and found no signs of disease. The surgeon and staff were shocked. The group praying there at the hospital took the opportunity to testify to these Buddhists of the grace and power of the everlasting God. They all left praising the Lord!
CHEA CHOUEN FROM CAMBODIA was an alcoholic and avid smoker. He hadn’t been able to hold down a job. His wife, Srey Mom, knew some English because she had worked as a maid for foreigners when she was young, so she was able to find a job as a tour guide, even though she couldn’t read or write Khmer. When she got pregnant, she had to stop working and the family barely had anything on which to live. They didn’t know how to manage the little money they had and racked up a lot of debt. They ended up having to sell their house. Church Planter Heng Sochet met Chea and Srey Mom and their seven children when they were at their lowest. One of his church members had tried to share the Gospel with Chea and Srey Mom in the past but they were not open to it. They now accepted the invitation to come to church. There they discovered the grace of Christ and after two months of steady attendance, they made the decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. They invited Church Planter Heng Sochet and the church members to come dedicate their new home to the Lord. They smashed their idols inside and outside their house. They cut off the bracelets and chains. They turned their whole lives over to God. When the grandma witnessed this, she was appalled! “How can you waste so much money?” she asked. “Those idols cost you a lot!” Grandma wouldn’t speak to them for a month. But after she saw the changes in their lives, she started to believe. Through God’s grace, Chea gained victory over drinking and smoking. The family pulled together and found a way to earn an income through mending secondhand clothes and reselling them. Their family received a complete GRACE-transformation when they became Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
Are you tired of the pattern of falling into sin and asking for forgiveness, over and over again? Do you need to experience the power of God’s grace in a new, fresh way? Without the transformative grace of God, all our conditions are hopeless, but Jesus does not leave you to keep sinning. May we take hold of His grace and power He so freely gives and experience victory in every area of our lives.