ECCLESIASTES 1:2; 2:10-11
Meaningless! Meaningless!...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Can you guess who said these words? I’ll give you a hint. He is known for not only his great wisdom but also his immense wealth. It’s King Solomon who writes these words. He goes on to point out that money is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:10), as well as the pleasures he chased (2:10-11) and the labor he worked (2:17). It’s discouraging, isn’t it? If King Solomon—who had all the wealth, wisdom, work, and wives a person could ever dream of—calls everything meaningless, what’s the point? Most of the book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon reflecting on what he and others chased for happiness. Throughout the book, he notes that no matter how much people accumulated, things did not bring meaning. But fortunately for us, the book doesn’t end there. The book concludes by telling the readers to keep God’s commands and to fear Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This points to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the source of true hope and meaning. Jesus came down and lived as a human, experiencing things in our world and seeing the things people chased after for meaning. He then died and rose again—dying for our sin and the brokenness it causes—all so that we could once again find our meaning by being in right relationship with Him, our good Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-14). Without Jesus, it is all meaningless. But with Him, we can find meaning and pleasure in the lives we’re currently living. God is the One who blesses people not only with their possessions but also with the ability to enjoy them (Ecclesiastes 5:19). • Naomi Vroegop •
Have you ever felt like life was meaningless? Or that you were stuck in the same old routine and nothing mattered? • How do you feel about one of the richest men in the Bible calling everything meaningless? •
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV)
COVID Ministry in Latin America
COVID-19 hasn't stopped God's work! See how God is using missionaries in Latin America!
“Leche!” shouts a little boy. He grabs the can of milk out of a bag and starts hugging and kissing it.
Missionaries pitch in to buy a coffin so their friend can be buried in the cemetery instead of a mass COVID-19 grave.
Churches pool their money and start committees to provide food for the neediest families in their neighborhoods.
When the new coronavirus turned into a pandemic, many people wondered, “Will COVID-19 put global missions on hold?” And while missions does look a bit different these days, we’re happy to report that God is still working to transform lives.
The pandemic is opening doors for missionaries and churches to get to know their neighbors better. Through COVID-19 ministry, they’re learning more about their communities’ needs.
Life and Death in Peru
Despite strict lockdowns, Peru’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Hospitals have limited supplies — and limited space in their morgues.
When missionaries Stephanie and Todd Edgar lost a friend to COVID-19, the body was slated to be sent to a mass, unmarked COVID-19 grave by the highway. The family didn’t have money for anything else.
In that dark hour, the Body of Christ stepped in.
Stephanie and Todd helped buy a coffin for their friend. And with some help, the family got their loved one released and sent to the city cemetery.
Everyone Needs Food, Scripture and Nature
For many missionaries in Latin America, COVID-19 ministry has been a bit less dramatic, but just as vital.
Los Cabos, Mexico, is a prime tourist destination. But with travel shut down, families are struggling to buy food. Thankfully, missionaries Art and Vicki Reyes and their congregation have been preparing for this moment.
For years, church members have contributed food items each week and given them to families in need. Now, they’re donating even more.
Missionaries and churches all across Latin America are collecting and distributing food to help meet the needs of people impacted by COVID-19.
“Some of these folks are rather poor themselves, so they give out of their poverty,” Vicki says. And though everyone expects the economy in Los Cabos to get worse, God is already answering prayers through donations from the Reyeses’ supporters.
Farther north, in La Paz, Mexico, Steve and Lois Dresselhaus would normally be taking groups kayaking. Being surrounded by nature makes it easy to turn conversations to the God who created it.
Now, instead of taking their neighbors out into nature, the missionaries are bringing nature to their neighbors.
“Our house church group … has started a food bank, which gives rather substantial bags of basic staples to families in three neighborhoods,” Steve says.
And with each bag of food, Steve includes a Bible text printed on a quality nature photograph. It’s a little piece of nature and a reminder of God’s faithfulness while most people are confined indoors.
Missions isn’t on hold —It just looks different now.
DID YOU KNOW?
THIS ALL HAPPENED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN....
1. Your face and mouth begin to form.
2. Your fingers, toes and bones formed.
3. All the parts of you were fully formed!
4. You could suck your thumb and make faces!
5. Hair began to grow on your head.
6. Your fingerprints could be seen and you could open your eyes.
7. You responded to light, sound and pain.
8. You could see and hear.
9. You were ready to be born!
As you were growing inside your mom, people couldn’t tell much about you. You were pretty well hidden! They may have had a few images from an ultrasound , but it wasn’t until you were born that they could see the shape of your nose, color of your eyes, or how much hair you had. But there was someone else who watched you as you grew inside your mom! He knew everything about you! (Read Psalm 139:15-16a.)
How do you feel to know God knew your name before you were even born?
▶ Imagine God looking into your eyes, calling you beautiful and smiling. How does that make you feel? How does it change how you see yourself?
▶ God promises He will always be with you, watching you, ready to help. How does this show God’s love for you? Could anyone love you more? Why or why not?
▶ What does it mean to you to belong to God? How does God care for a person who belongs to Him.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO KNOW JESUS? AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Christianity rests on four truths about Jesus, the One the Bible is all about:
Jesus is fully God. He is the Creator of the universe, the definition of good, the giver of life, and King over all.
Jesus is fully human. He came to earth to save us from our sins. Sin is doing anything against God’s good commands. Sin twists and breaks everything it touches, and it’s the root cause of brokenness and death. It broke our relationship with our holy (or perfect) God, who must punish sin or He wouldn’t be good or just.
Jesus offers us the only possible rescue from sin and death. We can be rescued by putting our faith in Jesus. He is perfect, yet He took the punishment for our sins: dying on a cross. Then, He beat death by coming back to life. Knowing Jesus through faith restores our broken relationship with God because Jesus forgives our sins and clothes us in His sinlessness, as if we never sinned. He also gives us the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to begin to reject sin and live as new people in Christ.
Jesus is coming back to make everything new. God’s people will be raised from the dead, living forever with God and each other, free from sin. But those who have refused His offer of rescue and relationship will face eternal judgment (or punishment) for their sin.
Romans 10:9-10 sums up these truths: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).
So, if you believe and that belief compels you to openly say that
you are a sinner,
• Jesus is Lord, the true God and King of the universe,
• you trust Him as the only way to save you from sin and death…
then you are a Christian.
Some people say a prayer when they become a Christian. There are no magic words, but you are welcome to use the following prayer as a guide: “Dear God, I’m a sinner. I need to be saved from sin and death. You are the only way to save me because You are the living God and King over all. I trust You to save me, and I acknowledge that You are good and in control. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Still not sure? That’s okay! If you need more details about what it means to know Jesus, dig into the Bible—God’s Word to us—and talk to a trusted Christian in your life, such as a camp counselor or pastor. Some great books of the Bible to start with are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Romans.