A friend of mine recently suggested that I read a book about a man’s struggle and suffering to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The book chronicles all the highs and lows that Mortenson experienced as he worked to improve the lives of the impoverished in this part of the world. As I read this book I was amazed by the stories of Mortenson’s work.

Mortenson has been called the Indiana Jones of humanitarian work. I can see why as he tells of how he struggled to secure funding for the schools, build trust within a Muslim community as an infidel, and how he was held captive by the Taliban. His work brought education to thousands of children in the war torn regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, this struggle and suffering also brought with it some bigger moral problems.

After I finished reading this incredible story I wanted to learn more about Mortenson and his work to make our world a better
place. A quick Goggle search revealed some troubling things. Apparently, this story that I had fallen in love with was made up.
CBS, and others, questioned if the book was more fiction than fact. Mortenson eventually did an interview on “60 Minutes” admitting that he had made many mistakes. When probed further Mortenson admitted that while many of the stories did occur, just maybe not so much in the sequence that the book portrayed.

Just like that. Inspiration and awe left me. The wonder of the story melted away. In the end, this was all about Greg Mortenson, and not about the people in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In the Book of Colossians Paul writes about his suffering and struggles. However, Paul tells us that this is all about Christ and the church that believes in Jesus. This is why he was able to endure hardship, pain and suffering. Paul advocates that suffering
he is enduring for Christ was meant to build up the church. When we study about Paul’s life we find that he was no stranger to suffering and pain.

The reality is that this world if full of suffering and pain. As I continued to learn more about Mortenson it was discovered that
funds from his charity were misused for personal gain. Paul made sure that his suffering was for the gain of the church. As you struggle through life you have to ask yourself the following question. What is your struggle, suffering and pain for?

This week we will analyze this question and more as we continue our study of Colossians with this message called, “Colossians: The Sufferfest”. May we learn lessons that will help us through pain, suffering and struggles. More importantly, may we find ways to stay focused on Christ.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Geraldo