Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ living on Guam,
It is challenging to live in a time of earth's history when we hear of wars and rumors of wars and are first hand witnesses to nations rising up against other nations. It is especially challenging when we find ourselves in the center of a potentially major military conflict. We find ourselves forced to deal with the emotions and stress of a situation we wish did not exist. I'm sure I speak for all of us who live on Guam, that the stress level in our lives has risen over the past week as each of us are dealing with our own thoughts, feelings, and concerns surrounding the present tension between North Korea and the United States.
As your Mission President and one who cares for the health and welfare of each of you and your families, I would like to share with you a few words of encouragement that have especially been a comfort to me over the past few days.
Our Seventh-day Adventist brothers and sisters around the world, especially those from our home Division, the North American Division, are concerned about us and are praying for us.
An official statement was recently released by North American Division President Elder Dan Jackson in which he appealed to the 1.2 million members of the NAD "to join in a special prayer of solidarity for those living in Guam and Micronesia." He opened his statement by saying, "I would like to let our members and the citizens on the island of Guam know that our concern and prayers are with you." We may take comfort in the fact that we are not facing this challenge alone. The thoughts and prayers of God's people are with us and with those of our local Guam government and local military personnel who are making decisions to protect the island of Guam and its citizens from the threat that is before us.
Guam may not be a familiar island to many Americans living on the mainland, but it is a very familiar island to God.
Media reports have made it quite clear that before the events of this last week, Guam was not a well-known island, even to many of those who live on mainland United States. I noticed that several of the headline articles were dedicated to just letting people know where Guam is and what a secret gem this beautiful little island is.
At one point this last week, the thought went through my mind, "The world may not know what or where Guam is and the reality of the threat it faces, but these things are no secret to God." I know it is a simple thought, but He knows that we are here and that we are looking to Him for strength, protection, and His abiding presence.
His faithful followers on Guam are as dear to Him as any one else on this planet. He has told His faithful ones in the past that, "Your walls are continually before me" (Isa. 49:16), and to, "Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isa. 41:10). We are to claim these promises for ourselves now. May each of us be like the righteous man described by King David: "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." (Psalm 112:7)
Events, such as this current threat, open people's hearts to God that may have otherwise stayed closed to Him.
Right now is a window of opportunity. Each of you have family members, co-workers, friends and acquaintances who do not know God and have no practical knowledge of how to connect with Him in times of uncertainty and trouble. During times of prosperity and ease, many feel no need for God and no need to reach out to Him for strength and peace. But during times of uncertainty and apprehension, the closed off mind will often open, even if only for a brief time, to spiritual things.
I encourage you to use this opportunity to share the hope you have in Jesus and to pray for those who you notice are especially unsettled by the events headlining the news. Let God use you in helping others to know how to connect with Him so that they to may share in the hope and peace we have as believers in Jesus Christ.
Along with this above encouragement, I would like to share a few practical recommendations that may be of a help to you and your family.
Stay informed and be prepared.
Stay informed. I'm sure this recommendation does not even need to be mentioned since most of us are keeping up on the news concerning the current threat situation. I imagine there are some who are thinking, "Here we go again," since this is not the first time North Korea has threatened Guam and they feel it a waste of time to keep a watchful eye on unfolding events. I personally feel it is in the best interest of everyone living on Guam and in the region to simply keep up to date on world events since Guam is presently the center of discussion. I am under the opinion that our local government and the Guam Homeland Security Department have our best interest in mind and are doing all that they can to keep the residents of Guam accurately informed concerning the current threat.
Be prepared. Being prepared for an emergency doesn't mean you no longer trust God. Being prepared does not mean you believe a possible calamity is going to take place for certain. Being prepared for a possible emergency is simply a wise course of action. This is one of the reasons why the Guam Homeland Security and Office of Civil Defense released a statement on August 11 outlining in detail what to do in case of a missile attack. Several large media outlets have praised the document for being a concise, excellent fact sheet for how to prepare and what to do during and after a missile attack. It is a short read and well worth your time. I recommend you visit www.ghs.guam.gov and download all four "Preparedness Fact Sheets" which contain excellent resources on how to assemble an emergency supply kit, how to create a family safety plan, and other instructions that are extremely useful in preparing for an emergency.
Keep your mind stayed on Jesus.
We should keep a watchful eye on the unfolding events around us for the sake of staying informed and being as prepared as humanly possible. But focusing too much on the things taking place around us or in the news can have a detrimental spiritual effect. This is why the prophet Isaiah said, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Isa. 26:3). Peace, strength, and a calm assurance will be yours when you look to Jesus and claim the promises that He has provided for such a time as this. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
I would humbly recommend that if it is not already your common practice, that you set aside a time everyday to spend in God's word and in prayer and that you "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6, 7).
May God's presence be with each of you and your families.
Your servant in Christ,
President, Guam-Micronesia Mission