Bible Devotion Week 8

Part of my daily morning routine is listening to “The World and Everything In It.” I appreciate the balance between current events, fascinating news stories, cultural commentary and all done through a Christian world and life view. One of the segments this week was on a remarkable missionary you probably never heard of, Neil Hawthorn. Neil is an Australian man who has been deeply involved in international missions. What makes Neil remarkable is that he does international missions without ever leaving his home city in Australia. Neil always wanted to be a missionary, but he suffers from epilepsy and no agency would take him. He was in such poor health as a baby the NICU nurses removed him from life support so his bed could go to another child.

For years Neil has lived with his aunt in the busy city of Melbourne, close to several colleges and many international students. They started inviting international students to their home for English tutoring and to provide a weekly meal. They also provided an opportunity for the students to hear the gospel. News of their hospitality spread throughout the international student community. One Korean student told a waiter at a Japanese restaurant that he was lonely. The waiter wrote down the Hawthorn’s address and said, “You go down Thursday night. You’ll have friends.” Neil never found out who was the waiter. Based on the relationships formed with these students, Neil has traveled to China seven times, Taiwan three times, Singapore and Malaysia many times. In fact, he’s been to the latter two cities more than he has been to Sydney. 

The closing words from Neil’s intereview struck me, “Where you are. That’s where God wants you.” I listened to Neil’s story the same day as we read from 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” The larger context of this verse seems to be addressing those who have been called into the Christian life in various relationships, commitments, and life settings: married, single, slave, free, etc. The Spirit of God has brought a change of the heart but not circumstances. Neil’s heart was changed by the gospel and he had a desire to go to the missions field, but his physical circumstances didn’t change and he was unable to go. Have you dealt with that level of rejection? Have you desired something good, righteous even, only to be told, “no.” It is frustrating. However, maybe God is calling you to remember where he has placed you. We all can get caught up in righteous ambition and desire to do amazing things that will impact the kingdom of God. Let 1 Corinthians 7:17 and the story of the homebound international missionary, Neil Hawthorne, remind you that you are exactly where God has placed you. Learn to discern why he has you here. As Neil said, “Where you are. That’s where God wants you.”

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