The Ripple Effect: When God Works beyond Our Plan

Joshua and the Israelites were on a God-given mission: they were to overcome Jericho and continue to the Promised Land. While a liberating mission, it wasn’t easy!

In chapter 2 of the Book of Joshua, we read that Joshua sent two spies into Jericho. Hunted by the king’s soldiers, the spies found refuge in the home of a prostitute, Rahab. Rahab had heard stories of the miraculous works God had done for His chosen people as they were led out of slavery in Egypt, and her heart was turning toward Him. In exchange for her hiding the two spies, she begged she and all her family would be spared when the Israelites overtook Jericho. They agreed. And even in the heat of the attack, Joshua didn’t forget his promise to Rahab.

Rescuing Rahab and her family, and adopting them into their community, was not part of Joshua’s or the Israelites’ original mission. Rahab’s redemption was a ripple effect of them staying dedicated to their mission. And because of that, Rahab—a non-Jew and a prostitute—is one of five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

Just as Joshua was steadfast in leading the Israelites to fulfill their mission, we persist in our mission to minister to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. As we do, we create a ripple effect that far outreaches our original plan. Here’s one example:

Our newest in-prison evangelism and discipleship programme, The Prisoner’s Journey® (TPJ), is being translated into Arabic in anticipation of launching it in prisons in Egypt. This can be a lengthy and challenging process. But through it, even translators are personally impacted by the material.

Our Arabic translator, who has a Catholic background, is the first Arab to provide a detailed review of TPJ’s Leaders Guide. In describing her personal, spiritual journey through the material, she says, “It’s so beautiful! [The Gospel presentation] is laid out logically. Easy to understand no matter your social or [religious] background.”

This Arabic translation of TPJ will cross cultural and geographic boundaries where Christianity isn’t embraced. And we are one step closer to offering this opportunity for change and redemption through Christ. The testimony of this translator shows that change is already starting, and we look forward to what God will do within the prison walls of the Arab world.

As you work toward your ministry’s goals, remember that thousands of lives are being redeemed by God’s love, and additionally, God is creating a ripple effect of transforming the hearts of not only prisoners and their families, but volunteers, staff, translators, and even prison guards and surrounding communities.

Rahab’s life was never the same, and her legacy of faith is praised in Hebrews 11:31.

While we won’t see all the ripple effects of our efforts this side of heaven, we can celebrate that God works through us in ways we could never have imagined.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

Article originally published March 7, 2017, in Prison Fellowship International’s PFI Roundtable.

 

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