Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, a day when Australians and New Zealanders remember the beginning of World War I. This was Australia’s first major military encounter as a nation with the wider world as we joined Britain’s fight against Germany. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs landing at the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. This was supposed to be a quick knock-out battle but the wildness of the terrain and the fierce resistance of the Turkish defenders led to a stalemate campaign that dragged on for 8 months. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships.
ANZAC Day evokes mixed and strong emotions. Some people feel it glorifies war. Our last ANZAC, Alec Campbell, pleaded on his deathbed: “For God’s sake, don’t glorify Gallipoli - it was a terrible fiasco, a total failure and best forgotten.” War is not a noble enterprise, nor a great source for national identity, or an ideal proof of a person’s coming of age. Only those who have been to war can understand its horror and the trauma it leaves in its wake. Others say it is a fitting tribute to remember those who gave their lives and made such a sacrifice. We should honour the dead not glorify war. Regardless of our personal views of the annual ANZAC Day celebrations, we can find common ground in commending the spirit of the soldiers who went to war. Their commitment, sacrifice, friendship (‘mateship’), endurance and courage in the face of great adversity is admirable. Courage is the attribute we want to focus on today.
Courage is strength in the face of fear, grief and pain. Afro-American author Maya Angelou once said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” JRR Tolkien noted, “Courage is often found in unlikely places.”
The Bible has a lot to say about courage and how important it is in our daily lives:
- “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
- “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart.” Psalm 27:14.
- “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
- “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
- “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
- “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Eph.6:10
As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand strong in the face of adversity – to be courageous! Thankfully, God is with us even in the midst of challenge, suffering and pain. We can draw on God’s strength.
John ‘Jack’ Simpson is one of our ANZAC heroes, as he rescued 300 injured soldiers from the heat of the battle over a period of 24 days, with the help of a donkey he found at ANZAC Cove. Sadly, he was hit in the back with a bullet from a machine gun. He died saving others. This reminds us of the words of Jesus Christ who said, “Greater love has no one than this than to lay down their life for a friend” (John 15:13). Jesus modeled this by leaving the comforts of heaven to risk and eventually lay down his life to rescue us from sin and death. That’s great courage!
It also takes courage for us to pursue our God-given mission today. Many of our World Impact workers and partners are working in some of the poorest, most persecuted and least evangelised parts of our world today. For many, there is a high price tag that includes their lives being endangered. We admire and commend their courage in planting churches, raising up leaders, growing congregations and transforming communities.
A Call to Courage
Here are three ways we can respond to this call to courage, as we draw inspiration from our ANZACs and our mission workers:
- Pray … for our mission workers. Adopt a mission work or project and consider joining a support group. Jesus’ desire was for his Father’s house to be a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). Clear the clutter and move out anything that is hindering your heart from being a place of prayer and worship.
- Go … to another nation. Consider being part of a short-term team or taking up a medium or long term placement in another nation. You will be a blessing to the people there, an encouragement to our mission workers, and travel enriches you too. Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
- Give … financially to the work of World Impact. Yes, there are local church ministry needs and we have building and community projects that need funds, but we never want to lose our heart for global mission. Make a financial donation to your church's mission program. Compared to the rest of the world, we are ‘rich’. As our generosity grows, our capacity as a church does also.
What are you facing right now that is calling forth courage within you? Are you overwhelmed by fear or discouragement? Has criticism or adversity taken its toll? God’s Word to you today is, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!” God is with you and he will give you the strength to go through whatever you may be facing.
- What does ANZAC Day mean to you?
- Reflect on a time in your personal life when you had to be courageous.
- How does courage relate to us engaging in our mission to reach our neighbours and friends with the good news of Jesus?
- What story have you heard so far from our mission workers that inspired you the most when it comes to courage?
- Spend some time praying for a specific mission worker or project.
- Ask someone who has been on a short-term team to share about their experience.
- Ask a friend what challenge they facing right now that is requiring courage for them. Pray for them.