“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”
The words “fear not” or “do not fear” are written nearly 150 times in scripture. God has made the command clear, and yet, whether it’s a fear of being robbed, a fear of spiders, a fear of dying or something else; we have all had to face fear. Moving away from my family and friends in the States, I faced a lot of fear; I was mainly afraid that something would happen to my family while I was so far away.
Recently, someone broke into our home. In the middle of the night he (or she) came to my room. I woke up when I heard the door, and they ran off. Thankfully, no one was harmed and nothing was taken, but the intensity of fear that I experienced in the weeks following was immense. I had a hard time sleeping and when I did sleep the light had to be on. I was afraid that whoever came in would come back.
As I thought more about fear, I am was reminded of the youth I serve and the fears they must overcome. Recently we did an exercise looking at the cumulative span of their lives (about 12 years for most of them). The majority said that, for the most part, their lives had been difficult. They began to recount some of their experiences:
- “My father left, a few weeks ago, without saying good-bye.”
- “My dad died when I was 9. He use to spoil me. He would always beat my mother, but he loved me a lot.”
- “My mother says I’m not allowed to see my father. We fight about it a lot.”
- “My dad is in the hospital; he’s been there 2 weeks. He’s sick because the bullets in his stomach, from a long time ago, started moving.”
- “My dad says I should tell the Social Worker about how my mom swears at us, but I don’t want to get her in trouble.”
- “My foster mom is very mean to my sister and me. My other 6 brothers and sisters don’t live with us.”
In addition to the day to day struggles they’re facing at home, there has been a recent uprising among gangs, marked with frequent shootings. The more we talked the more I realized the depth of the courage these young people have.
Every day these young people live with their own personal fears and questions: a fear of being alone, a fear of going hungry, a fear of being shot.
As I talked with the kids, I was reminded that fear, like courage, is a choice. Daily, despite their fears, they choose courage.
I believe God has commanded us not to fear because He knows that fear takes our eyes off of Him. It leads our hearts away from the trust that should be placed solely in Him. Fear wreaks havoc on the mind, soul, and spirit and robs us from the abundant life that God has called us to. We cannot live a life of faith when we are living in fear. As we are faced with fear, whether it’s a burglary or a spider or death, our trust must rest in God. He is with us where ever we go.
-Chantal Monique Duson
Serving in South Africa 2014
For more information on work GAP does in South Africa, click HERE to visit our International Projects page.