My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. -1 John 2:1
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. -John 16:7
I try to look for things God is teaching me when I travel. I just returned from a trip to Kenya and Tanzania for ServeNow. The lesson that stood out to me on this trip was a new appreciation of the power of an advocate. Let me share what happened in the US and then Tanzania related to my COVID tests and why having an advocate is vital.
In the US, I took my COVID test on a Saturday at Walgreens. It had to be a PCR test, not just a rapid test and so there is a 2–5 day window. I was assured they would collect the test on Saturday night, and I would have it in time for my flight. But by Monday mid-morning, I still didn’t have the test results, so I began making phone calls. I found out they didn’t collect the samples Saturday night as promised. They were only receiving them that Monday afternoon, one day before my flight!
I was upset and began to let them know of my frustration. Paying extra to have the test results prioritized is not an option. Missing my flight and having to re-arrange plans seemed likely. However, after pushing back, I found a woman who seemed to have a change of heart and promised she would advocate for me and see if she could get it prioritized. Sure enough, because of her influence, by early that evening, I had my results.
In Tanzania, the only time we could get to a suitable facility for the COVID test was the day before the flight back to the US. However, this location said the results would be given only after 48 hours. By that time it would be too late. I would be stuck several more days. However, one of our main coordinators in Tanzania began to advocate for me through some of his key relationships. As a result, they prioritized our tests. I had the results back a couple of hours before heading to the airport where it would be needed to board. Once again, because of someone else’s influence, relationships, and advocacy, I was able to obtain something I could not do alone.
I do a lot of teaching, preaching, and advocating for those most vulnerable. For example, we met with one mother on this trip who we helped to expand her business through a micro-enterprise project. While meeting with her and one of her daughters, we learned of her daughter’s dream to go to high school. In Kenya, you have to pay to go to school. Though benefiting greatly from the micro-enterprise grant, this family is not quite yet in a position to afford that, along with other priorities. We decided to advocate for the daughter. As a result, we secured the resources needed for her first year of school fees.
It’s fun to be on that side of the equation. It’s not as fun when you are the one who feels helpless and powerless. But what a blessing it is when others can advocate on your behalf. Because of the influence of others we can achieve things we could not on in our own efforts. The process with the COVID tests reminded me of the power of having an advocate.
That brings me to the lesson I came to appreciate in a new way. We have an advocate fighting for us in heaven. When we sin, Jesus stands in our place as our advocate. In place of judgment we obtain grace and mercy we don’t deserve. The Holy Spirit also comes alongside us as our advocate and helper. He enables us to accomplish what God has called us to do on earth for the sake of his kingdom. We experience numerous blessings and privileges because of our relationship with God that otherwise would not be possible. We may not always recognize it. But God is at work faithfully behind the scenes on our behalf.
Because that reality is true for us, we should function in that role whenever we can for others. There are many ways you can come alongside and help others that will make a difference in their lives. We can use our influence, relationships, and resources to demonstrate a core aspect of who God is. We are not alone in this world. We don’t need to face this world or its challenges alone. And, we need one another in ways that are different but mutually beneficial for each other’s good and God’s glory.