Our Hero Heals

08.05.21 | Story | by Chris Jones

Our Hero Heals

    "God’s voice and the confirmation of His promise can heal something deep inside of us." A powerful story from the life of New Hope Church Global Outreach Director Chris Jones.

    When my mother died of cancer at 59, it deeply affected me. I was never sure her faith had been a saving one, and that thought haunted me. She was divorced, so her partner had been caring for her. A month before she died, I returned from Azerbaijan, where I had been ministering. Despite all my desperate prayers she had died, leaving me broken-hearted, and defeated.

    On the night she died, I left her saying,

    “See you tomorrow mom.”

    I kissed her and left, never knowing those would be my last words to her. She passed several hours later, and I felt guilty that I wasn't with her. Mom was always a great light in my life and irreplaceable. Once I had taken care of her estate, I returned to Azerbaijan with my family.

    Things were not the same for me when I returned. A weariness beyond tiredness overshadowed me, making everything a burden. I asked myself, what good I was doing staying in Azerbaijan? The church had shrunk while I was away and some key leaders had left the city. I wondered if my ministry was over, but God, our hero who heals, had other plans.

    Three months after Mum died, I was in the capital, Baku. I needed a ride home to Gence, five hours away, and a friend leaving Baku that day offered to take me. An hour or so into our journey, snaking through the dry hills north of Baku, I heard a voice clearly say,

    "She is alive, and she is with me."

    I jumped. The voice was so clear, but shocked, I barely registered what had been said. I looked at the driver, but he was focused on the road ahead, unaware. It came again.

    "She is alive, and she is with me."

    Tears began to form in my eyes. I turned away. Not wanting to concern my driver Rafik, I whispered,

    "How can this be true?"

    It came again, as loud and as clear as before.

    "She is alive, and she is with me."

    I knew this was the voice of God, but Mom's death had so shaken me that my reply to God was almost an accusation.

    "Why are you telling me this now after so long? It’s been so painful not knowing."

    God said, "You really need to know how precious people are."

    Not the reply I was expecting.

    Did God not know I was leading a ministry to orphans, refugees, and the mentally ill? Did he not know I was planting a church in a Muslim city? Did He not notice I had spent several years serving the homeless? Clearly, God was not impressed.

    Despite everything, I still had not learned how truly precious people are to God. The pain and the grief I endured was a tiny taste of what His eternal grieving heart went through. This lesson, however painful, was vital.

    It was so hard to hear I didn’t even know if my heart could receive it. But in that moment, God began to powerfully heal my heart and spirit. Mom was alive with God, and this changed everything. My faith stirred, the joy which had been so far from me began to well up. God’s purpose for me in the country was being renewed. Looking back, it was a significant turning point.

    In my heart I knew this was God, but seeking reassurance, I asked how I could know it was Him speaking to me? He replied as clearly and succinctly as before.

    "Gence will greet with you rain."

     I felt bad that I had asked for confirmation. Where was my faith and trust?

    I looked at the blue, cloudless sky, knowing without a doubt that God had spoken.

     Thirty minutes from Gence, clouds began to form over the city. As we approached the sky grew darker. My heart stirred like Elijah’s watching God's promise before my eyes. (1 Kings 18:44)

    Once in the city, Rafik took me home. The clouds were heavy and black with promise, but no rain had fallen. Entering the courtyard, I called out so my wife Jo would know I had arrived.

    "Welcome home!" She shouted back.

    As the words of her welcome ended, the rain began. Heavy and fast the water dropped from heaven. My tears were lost in the deluge of God’s love, the rain confirming His word to me. Something deep inside of me was healed as the love of God set right what had been displaced. God was leading me to a new place, consoling and equipping me through His faithfulness.

    Counting all people precious, whoever they are, was a vital part of the partnering work God had for me. Over the years and miles since then, I have always tried to remember how precious people are. When I think of people we serve I count them precious and long for them to be alive and with Him forever, as I know my mom is.

    Our Hero suffered, our Hero is with us in our suffering, our Hero heals.