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Good Friday holding onto God in the face of disaster

From cyclones to conflict, the climate crisis to military coups, our global team shares how God remains faithful.

Written by Rachael Adams | 07 Apr 2023

A cross silhouetted against a dim sky with light shining behind it

A cross is illuminated by light | Image credit: Duncan Sanchez/Unsplash

On Good Friday, Jesus cried out ‘My God my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46). In the darkest of moments, in the deepest of challenges, our faith can be tested. Where is God? How is he at work?

Throughout the Bible, God is described as a ‘rock’: faithful, dependable, never-changing. One of the Bible's overarching storylines is about a God who rescues his people time after time – his enduring love for us on full display, again and again. No matter the circumstances, God is an ever-present help.

Our world today is no stranger to darkness. Conflict is rife. The climate crisis is causing hunger and hurt. Poverty and injustice are everywhere. Where is God? How is he at work?

Below, our global team share six reflections on how God has remained faithful in the face of disaster. Read through them – you could read one each day over the coming week – and be encouraged by God our rock, and how God might be moving in similar ways in your own life.

Pray with us

As you engage with the reflections, take time to pray with God – our constant companion. We have included two ideas for how you can do this.

Option one: pray as led by the Holy Spirit

Read through the headlines below, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to pray for one particular country or region. Read through that particular reflection, spending time in prayer for it.

Option two: pray through all of the reflections

You can either do this in one go or split them over a week – spending a day on each different country, finishing with the worship video that we have included at the end. This works well for small groups and discussions.

However you choose to pray, we hope these are a blessing and encouragement to you this Easter. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Silhouette of two women standing in a doorway

Two Venezuelan women pray together at one of our church partner’s support groups for Venezuelans in Colombia. Tearfund’s local partners in Colombia are helping refugees and migrants from Venezuela access medical care, are providing food and trauma support and helping them to feel welcomed and loved | Image credit: Peter Caton/Tearfund

Rwanda – the God of reconciliation

By Emmanuel Murangira, who leads Tearfund’s work in Rwanda

This year, Good Friday falls upon the International Day of Reflection for the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. Across Rwanda – and the world – people will be thinking about the more than 1 million people who were killed, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, at the hands of Hutu extremists.

Living and working in a post-Genocide Rwanda is challenging, but it can also be profoundly humbling to see what God is able to do in situations that are – by all accounts – humanly impossible.

Seeing perpetrators ask for forgiveness, survivors able to forgive, and them both committing to live together reinforces that all things are possible with God.

Through our work with churches, we are seeing lives changed. I dream for a day when the plans we are working to at Tearfund are a reality: 7,000 local churches in Rwanda in the next five years, becoming local places of transformation, where every church is a house of hope and true community of God’s people.

The rock of my faith

Christ is the rock of my faith. It is on him that my life, my hope and my work are anchored.

When I started at Tearfund, I prayed ‘Lord God, you have called me into this place at such a time as this. Let me be your hands and feet among those in need of your divine providence. Not to be a provider, but to serve what you have provided. Not to be seen but to cause those I serve to see you. Not to be commended but to cause them to glorify you!’

To date God has been faithful – he has provided and I have served. Through their testimonies, those I set out to serve see God more and glorify his holy name. Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection is an assurance of his redeeming love and our hope in a better world without poverty, conflict and injustice.

Pray with us

  • Pray for Rwanda. Pray that God’s hand will be in the plans for 7,000 churches in Rwanda over the next five years to become places of transformation and hope and where people can be freed from poverty and injustice.
  • Reflect with God. Pray Emmanuel’s bold prayer out loud, asking God to use you in your workplace, home and community in order to make a difference in the lives of others.
A smiling man in a red shirt with trees in the backgroundA smiling man in a red shirt with trees in the background

Claude was imprisoned for his role in genocide. Since joining a Tearfund partner church on his release, Claude – inspired by the biblical call to ‘proclaim freedom for the prisoners’ (Luke 4:18) – has turned his life around and is working with others to build bridges of forgiveness. ‘I am living in harmony with the people whose family members I killed.’ says Claude | Image credit:Marcus Perkins/Tearfund

Haiti – the God of protection

By Romnal Colas, who leads Tearfund’s work in Haiti

The situation that we are experiencing in Haiti is extremely difficult, but it is not unique in the world. God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt, and still delivers nations from turmoil today. We remain hopeful that change will happen.

The ongoing gang violence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city, has led to entire districts being inaccessible and dangerous, with people forced to find somewhere safer to live. But the more difficult the situation, the more we are driven by the desire to love and help those who are most vulnerable.

We do this by leaning on God our rock for our divine protection. And, by every day finding the most suitable strategy to pursue our mission of love and service where the need is greatest.

Despite the difficulties, we are creating new jobs that address environmental issues, as well as setting up networks of young people who are promoting positive masculinity and how to care for the environment. We also supported people with cash grants, food and shelter in the aftermath of 2021’s deadly earthquake in southern Haiti.

Our God is always at work and he is faithful forever. He opens doors for us where everything seems chaotic.

Agent of transformation

Jesus' sacrifice gives us an example of a God who responds to violence with love and service. Jesus was treated with violence and struck down by injustice, but he even loved his oppressors – he healed one of the soldiers and he forgave the sin of his executioners on the way to the cross.

We dream of a stable and prosperous country. We want to see Haiti moving from poverty to economic growth, from dependence to self-sufficiency.

To achieve this, the church has a crucial role to play in these changes. We see the church as the agent of transformation that God wants to use to act and bring the nation back to the message of reconciliation, love and service. We see the local church as a benchmark for justice and as a catalyst for change. God will act, but he won't do it without us.

Pray with us

  • Pray for Haiti. Pray that the church will be able to share the crucial message of reconciliation, love and service to people across Haiti. Pray that this will lead to an end to the gang violence and lasting change. Ask God to bring about the resources for the team to reach more churches with reconciliation training.
  • Reflect with God. Think about how God responds to conflict with love and forgiveness. Reflect on current divisions you see in the UK and in your community and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to pray for healing in relationships and for ways you and your church can build bridges.
A smiling young man holding a potted plant with trees in the background

Following training by Tearfund, 20 churches in Nippes, southern Haiti, have started a community garden together where vegetables and fruit are grown and then distributed to the local community | Image credit: Kit Powney/Tearfund

East Africa – the God of deliverance

By Geoffrey Kibigo, from our Kenya Team.

Reflecting on the pain, anguish and humiliation that Jesus went through during his crucifixion, my heart is overwhelmed with emotions. Similar pain and anguish is experienced by many in the East Africa region – in northern Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia – which is facing a hunger crisis, with many people starving to death.

This situation is painful. Every time I go to these communities to support them as part of Tearfund and our local partner’s response, the sight of starving children and elderly people haunts me, and overwhelms my heart.

I reflect on how Mary, the mother of Jesus, would have been feeling during Good Friday. Mary persevered watching her son go through the pain, agony, humiliation and crucifixion. But, she was able to witness the resurrection and her entire pain was wiped away.

This gives me hope that the suffering and pain of people experiencing the hunger crisis will end too.

God will turn around every situation

I believe no season is permanent and in every situation, the name of God will be exalted through his transformative character.

Communities in East Africa remain optimistic that God will never forsake them, even when everything suggests otherwise – drought, disease, flash flooding…

In the Bible, God intervened in various situations where there was drought, including supplying manna from heaven to the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16), and the same to Elijah in the land called Cherith, east of Jordan (1 Kings 17:2-16).

I dream of a time when God shall restore the land. That communities will be able to plant seeds in this land and harvest a hundredfold, just like Isaac in Genesis 26:12.

Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever and he has promised to answer us when we call on him. That if we ask him for bread he will not give us stones (Matthew 7:9). God will restore the livelihoods of these communities across East Africa for he is Jehovah Jireh – the God who will provide.

Pray with us

  • Pray for East Africa. Pray that God will provide nourishing food and restore the lands across East Africa, to make abundant harvests a reality again. Pray for the right kind of rains across East Africa – ones that will not cause flash flooding. And pray for healing for people suffering from hunger.
  • Reflect with God. Think about a situation in your own life that feels immovable – where you’re wondering where God is. Now, read through the above Bible verses again about God’s faithfulness and recommit yourself to ‘God the deliverer’ again, asking him to move in power in the situation where you need to feel his presence.
A smiling woman wearing a large amount of colourful necklaces

‘We had food to eat, the children were not hungry and we were all happy,’ shares Agnes about the five months of support she received from Tearfund’s local partner, African Development Service Kenya | Image credit: African Development Service Kenya, Tearfund local partner

Myanmar – the God of resistance

By a staff member from Myanmar, who cannot be named for security reasons

In Myanmar, millions of people have been forced from their homes by 2021’s military coup and the ongoing violence that has followed.

The violence and injustice that we experience in Myanmar, and in many places in the world today, remind me of Jesus’ experience living under the Roman empire. Violence and injustice that is exacerbated by violent revolutions, collaborators and by-standers.

But, God is very alive, very active in our lives in Myanmar. We are crushed, but we are not finished. In his time, he provides, he protects and he gives us hope.

As I reflect on Good Friday and on Jesus, the Son of Man, my commitment to follow in his steps deepens.

A very present God

Through the church, God is helping people flee to safer places. There are churches who are very willing to host those who have fled the fighting. There are churches who are far away from where there is conflict, but who are very active in mobilising support to help communities in need. God is at work through the people who love him.

No matter what challenges exist for us, God is always our rock, our refuge, our strength and a very present help in times of need. The first thing that I do is cling to his promises by living in the presence of God and affirming that he is God, my rock, my fortress and my ever-present God.

When I know that I am fearful and angry, I take a break, I bless and I breathe in God. The Spirit of God is ever present in our midst and always waiting to respond to our requests. Not seeing myself as a victim, affirming my identity in him, and fixing my eyes on the redemption of God, helps me to face the challenges with courage.

I dream that people in Myanmar will be able to break free from cycles of violence, while praying for God’s divine intervention for the freedom of the people in Myanmar.

Pray with us

  • Pray for Myanmar. Pray for protection for our staff, local partners and the people we serve from the ongoing violence and fighting. Ask God to bring about a peaceful transition to democratic rule where all people can flourish.
  • Reflect with God. What does it look like to confront injustices in your own life and in your local community? Make a list of areas where you would like to see change and pray with God about them, asking him to bring revelation to you about how to intercede to highlight these and bring about lasting change.
A church with trees and vegetation all around it

Tearfund is working through churches and local partners in Myanmar to support people who have been forced from their homes by the ongoing violence. We’re also supporting churches to equip them to help their communities lift themselves out of poverty | Image credit: Alice Keen/Tearfund

The Democratic Republic of Congo – the God who knows suffering

By Aaron Wolcott, from our Democratic Republic of Congo Team

When I look around at the increase in people forced from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the violence that is seemingly spiralling out of control, I often find myself despairing.

Good Friday reminds us that Jesus is familiar with our suffering. The injustices and violence that the Congolese face are not foreign to Jesus. He carried our suffering on the cross (Isaiah 53), and by his wounds we are healed.

In the midst of suffering, Jesus stands alongside us. He comforts us and offers us hope of healing and restoration, through the finished work of suffering he did for us on the cross.

In these times of violence, my mind has often gone to Psalms 42 and 43 where the repeated refrain is, ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’

In hard times, it is important that we remember that God remains faithful. After death comes resurrection and we can ‘yet praise God’ because we know that he is true to his promises and is with us as a Rock unchanging, even when we may not feel that.

Breaking free

We have teams spread across eastern DRC, operating in areas where many different armed groups are active. We continue to serve people forced from their homes and those living in extreme poverty. And, in spite of the risks associated with this work, we have seen God’s faithfulness to us in providing funding for the work, the right people to carry out the work, and safety as we go about our work.

We dream of a peaceful and prosperous DRC. It is hard to look around at the abundant riches of talent, natural resources and opportunity that exist here, which are unrealised due to conflict and widespread injustice.

We desire to be a voice for hope and truth in the midst of this, joining with the church to be a prophetic witness in society to the love and justice of God. The church has enormous influence in society and our prayer is that the church will truly be salt (flavouring society with the goodness of God) and light (exposing the things of darkness and the lies that hold the DRC captive to violence and injustice).

Pray with us

  • Pray for the DRC. Pray that the church will become salt and light and help bring lasting peace to the DRC. Lift up people forced from their homes by conflict and pray for their safety and provision and that they will be able to return home.
  • Reflect with God. Lift up to God an area of your life where you are suffering or facing hardship. Spend some time soaking in God’s presence – resting in his nearness that we can feel thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. When you feel ready, read through the refrain from Psalms 42 and 43 again and praise God for being with you and remaining faithful. Ask him to move powerfully to help you overcome your challenges.
A smiling woman in grey holding up a container of crops

Tearfund’s local partner supports people with crops and training to help them earn an income. At the end of last year, we funded a small project helping former child soldiers plant community gardens as a way out of conflict and poverty. It was exciting to see these young people succeed with their gardens and enjoy bumper crops of sweet potatoes. Successes like this gives us the courage to keep working | Image credit: Arlette Bashizi/Tearfund

Malawi and Mozambique – the God of hope

By Jennipher Sakala, who oversees Tearfund’s work in Southern and East Africa

Difficult, hard and dark times are all part of life as much as the good, happy and joyous times are. Jesus' life on earth gives us a good example of this.

Jesus had a great time of ministry, healing the sick and restoring lives. Yet, the true value of his coming down to earth is seen in the difficult, hard and challenging times that he experienced – the false accusations he faced, the cruel punishment he went through, and the gruesome death he endured on the cross.

The people of Malawi and Mozambique are facing these hard times right now as they recover from the damage that Cyclone Freddy wrought. More than two hundred thousand people have been forced from their homes by the flood damage and cholera is rampant in both countries.

This week, I spent time in one village that was totally destroyed in Chikwawa district, Malawi, listening to the community and church leaders from ten denominations –- all united to help. Their belief in God’s faithfulness to fulfil his plans to give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11) is amazing.

Bringing hope back to life

Storms like these are becoming even more deadly, due to the climate crisis. The situation is immensely challenging, but Jesus gives me the strength and courage to serve those in desperate need. I put my trust in Jesus – the solid rock.

I am truly thankful for the extent of God’s love. This inspires me to not dwell so much on the sufferings I see or my own inadequacies, but to leave everything at his feet, trusting that he knows what is best for each one of us – including the needs of people in Malawi and Mozambique.

My dreams are big for Malawi and Mozambique. I dream to see a united and strong church led movement driving economic and spiritual transformation in Malawi, in Mozambique and other African countries where we work. As the Lord proclaimed to Peter in Matthew 16:18, ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.’

Nothing brings hope back to life like Good Friday and Easter. The resurrection power gives us hope to face the uncertainties of the future.

Pray with us

  • Pray for Malawi and Mozambique. Pray for God’s comfort and protection to be with those affected by the cyclones and floods. Ask God that all their needs will be met, including safe shelter. Pray for an end to the cholera epidemic. And ask God to bless the work that the church is doing to help communities recover and to thrive.
  • Reflect with God. Look back at both the good and joyous times, as well as the more challenging ones that you have faced and write down ways in which God showed up in them. Thank God for his faithfulness. Look to the week ahead, and commit it to God – knowing that the power of resurrection gives us hope to face the uncertainties of the future.
A group of women in colourful clothing sitting together on the floorA group of women in colourful clothing sitting together on the floor

A self-help group in Malawi meets together to pray and support each other. Groups like this are set up through Tearfund’s church partners and are lifting communities out of poverty, as well as providing friendship and care | Image credit: Alex Baker/Tearfund

The resurrected God

Happy Easter from everyone at Tearfund. To celebrate Easter, we’ve put together a short video for you, featuring the Euthini Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Praise choir from Malawi, and a poem by Gideon Heugh, read by our global team.

Watch the video and take a moment to reflect on God our rock. As you listen to the words, may you know the reality of God’s faithfulness and enduring love for you. May Christ’s love, peace and hope rest upon you and your loved ones, now and always. Amen.

Happy Easter from everyone at Tearfund. To celebrate Easter, we’ve put together a short video for you, featuring the Euthini Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Praise choir from Malawi, and a poem by Gideon Heugh, read by our global team.

Written by

Written by  Rachael Adams

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