This article was originally published in the February 2023 edition of ITMI Monthly.
This last month in the world of football, the fanbase has been vaulted into a form of emotional euphoria as they watched exceptional athletes compete and win on the pitch or field, as we Americans would say. This was true in both American Football and International Football (known as Soccer to the Yanks).
The heroics caused great jubilation in some, while it caused stunned, silent disbelief in others.
I might also describe the stunned, silent disbelief as blank, motionless, expressionless, numb, stolid, or empty. These words also describe a term we know as catatonic. Informally, the word “catatonic” can be used to describe someone who is just “not there” mentally or emotionally, often in response to great fright or trauma.
In Matthew 28, we encounter Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who went to the tomb where Jesus’s body had been laid. They experienced a “powerful earthquake” and a heavenly visit of the “angel of the Lord,” whose countenance was like lightning.
Most translations describe what happened next to the others present; the keepers or guards who “became as dead men.” The International Standard Version actually uses the word catatonic, as in “the guards themselves became catatonic.”
A person in a catatonic state at its extreme is fairly easy to identify. Yes, that person is technically alive. They have a pulse, breathe in and out, and can even move about. But most would agree, they are not really living, nor are they experiencing the abundance of life in Christ.
Why the discussion on catatonic states of being?
Life in Christ brings a sense of, well, life - abundantly. God’s will for it is that it would expand and grow into “...abundantly above all that we could ask or think…” And yet the enemy always takes mankind towards “blank, numb, stunned, silent disbelief” levels of existing, towards the catatonic end of the living spectrum.
We see numbness painted on the faces of angry, bitter young people. It is evident on the faces of those strangled by addictions to substances. It claws at the faces of those in the media and political system as they feed us a daily drudgery of brokenness.
We observe this numbness rise up the social ladder from the most broken of society into the elite realm of those called “successful” yet, even there, they experience a darkness that comes from not knowing God.
Our partner, Vicky Waraka, is a dear, single, almost elderly saint living in the battle-torn country of South Sudan. For years, Vicky has gleefully agreed to the long-term responsibility of raising children whose poverty-stricken, traumatized parents can’t even take care of themselves.
Vicky accepts this, along with all the other duties that her ministry requires daily to provide counseling and spiritual help full-time in a broken and devastated country. Vicky sees catatonic faces daily as she seeks to minister to the brokenness that has triggered this “numb” state of living.
As I travel the world, I, too, see this catatonic inability to connect or even live past just breathing and shuffling about.
As you read this, I will, Lord willing, be in a limited-access country in Asia with a long history of persecuting anyone that doesn’t believe in the state religion. I am asking you to please pray with me as we seek to partner with and empower godly nationals who will seek to bring God’s definition of life to the many who now live without hope.
Vicky’s home was broken into and ransacked while Vicky and her orphan children were at church a few Sundays ago. Vicky returned to her modest mud house to find it raided and looted. Her few valuables had been found and taken. They stole her laptop and the orphaned children’s school fees.
Would you consider helping Vicky? Vicky is one who cares deeply about people, and she seeks to share God's hope and truth so the broken and numb can know real life in Christ. Vicky was deeply saddened by the robbery, but she chose to focus on what God has done for her and her orphans and to rest in the blessings that God has and will provide.
In His Service,
About the Author
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
Get Weekly Updates from the Field!
Subscribe to our email updates