Peace That Sustains
LAX was crowded. There were people everywhere rushing to and fro. I had my 7-month-old baby strapped to my body and all of my earthly possessions were sitting at my feet in 2 checked bags, a carry-on, and a backpack. I had never been out of the country before. This experience alone felt foreign enough. Two years earlier, my husband had gone on a mission trip to China and emailed me (yes, emailed me) to tell me to pray because God was telling him China was to be our new home. To say my emotions had been everywhere in these past 2 years was an understatement. However, I had known God since I was a child. I had encounters with Him. He spoke to me in dreams. He told me things. I trusted Him. But this was new territory. I was leaving everything I loved. I was leaving the familiarity of my church, my friends, my family, my home, and my country. Why? Because when God spoke to my heart and confirmed that this was His plan that was enough for me. My husband, son, and I boarded that international flight on July 3rd, 2007. I glanced over my shoulder for one last look. This flight would change the rest of my life.
The next 13 years overseas in Asia would demonstrate to me if I trusted the God of the Bible or if I had just been “playing religion.” When we left the United States, obeying God’s call to the mission field, we left with only $35 of monthly support and our 7-month-old son. My husband and I were both 27 years old at the time. We had a lot to learn. So many challenges happened during those years. At times, I felt completely alone surrounded by millions of Chinese speakers. Culture shock is a real thing. I could go into a hundred and one different stories about our time there, but what I would like to focus on is how God sustained me through it all.
My husband would travel to remote villages in China and sometimes I would not hear back from him for days. Often times, my husband would be due to return on a certain night, but never would. Plans and communication were difficult commodities to possess because conditions in China were so variable. Unpredictable events would happen to delay him, which were out of his control. Without a reliable phone signal at times, he was unable to relay the message to me. I was often alone with my now two children in our village home in the mountains. I would hear every noise at night when he was gone. It was not uncommon for Chinese people to target foreigner’s homes at night to break in and steal things. We had first-hand accounts of this happening to friends. I had so many thoughts running through my head. Would someone break-in? Was my husband safe? Had he been arrested? Would I ever hear from him again? Would I be raising our 2 babies alone? A seasoned missionary had warned us that we were always being followed, watched, and listened to by the government. I knew the threat was real. After literally years of this internal struggle and anxiety, one night I laid in bed wide awake and I told God, “I’m done worrying. I can’t do this anymore. I cannot live like this one more day. No more fear. No more anxiety. If tragedy strikes, I will deal with it with your strength and guidance. Until then I’m free.” I could almost literally feel the worry and fear leave me, and peace followed. That’s what God had needed from me all along. I was carrying a load on my shoulders that I was never created to carry. I had been my own enemy. This newfound freedom would be put to the test over and over again. One night, in particular, stands out in my mind.
About 10 years into being overseas, my husband was on a trip and late one night after I had put our children down to bed, my phone alerted me of an incoming text from my husband. I opened it. It read, “I have been arrested. I will contact you when I can.” That was it. This would have been the perfect opportunity for fear to kick in and overtake my thoughts. This time was different though. I had stood my ground for years now and had not allowed fear to have a hold of me. After reading the text, I still had complete peace. My husband had also posted on Facebook what had happened before he wiped his phone clean so the authorities could not get sensitive information from it. Because of his post, the messages started pouring in. Everyone was asking if he was ok or if I had any new information. I spent the next several hours comforting others and encouraging them that everything would turn out fine. It would be a few days before I received news of his release. That is a story in itself of God’s protection on our family.
During these times, God had taught me about my thought life, and what I had been meditating on. I had learned that faith comes by hearing. I learned that the enemy cannot create, so he counterfeits. His counterfeit to faith is fear. I was not growing in faith before this; I was growing in fear. My fear was growing by me listening to my very own thoughts. This principle of controlling my thought life would sustain me throughout my years overseas. Through the power of the Word of God, I was now in control of my happiness and peace. I learned that happiness is a choice and peace comes through His Word, if obeyed. Life does not always go according to plan, but you can have peace, no matter the circumstance. Peace will sustain you amongst any turmoil of life. Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin used to always say that you can’t control the bird flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair. He was referring to thoughts. You cannot control what thoughts come into your mind. However, you have complete control over the ones you allow to stay and take up residence.
My story is unique in that most of you will not find yourself overseas, living in a communist country, with two small children. However, I am not unique. I’m God’s daughter just like you are. He has made a way for us to live in peace just as he designed for us to be! For fear at its very core is evil. It wreaks havoc on our mind, our relationships, and even our body. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, remember you are more than a conqueror. You are in Christ. You are not subject to this world’s passions or fears that would dare to destroy who you are and what God has called you to do! If you have been dealing with fear, simply make a decision. No more! Change your thoughts, which changes your outlook, which changes your day, which in turn changes your life! In this day and time, more then ever, fear will try to attach itself to you. Do not allow it. You have all authority given to you through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. God needs his church to be strong in faith and not one who easily submits to fear when it presents itself. You have the strength of God in you to stand up against anything the enemy would throw at you. I’ll leave you with this in Philippians 4:7 NIV, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Use his peace as a weapon to guard your heart and your mind. Peace is a free gift, live in it.
About Elizabeth Braze
After graduating from Rhema Bible College in 2001, Elizabeth Braze and her husband, Andrew (2002), followed the call that God had placed on their lives to go into ministry. Alongside her husband, Elizabeth served in a local church in Virginia in multiple capacities until 2007, when the call to the mission field was placed on their hearts. Elizabeth has served as a missionary to Asia and neighboring countries with her husband and two children. Their ministry includes rescuing kids and teens from sex trafficking, ministry to those afflicted with leprosy, underground Bible schools, taking on the care of orphans, and other projects as God leads.