The irresistible magnetism of taking action for Jesus
For example, we salute baby boomers who reject senior hedonism to embrace a missional retirement focused on others and who commit to opportunities for service and teaching others the story of Jesus. The boomers’ story, told by Erik Tryggestad, demonstrates what can result when believers think strategically and take action.
Another story that grows from this determination to make a difference for Jesus is about the Villiage of Hope, a ministry for orphaned, abandoned and needy children in Ghana. The church-supported ministry has taken in children whose lives could only be characterized as slavery — bondage to inhuman child-labor practices.
Like similar orphanages around the world, this effort grows from church members’ determination to make a difference with their resources and their hearts.
Thinking Christianly in small things is powerful.
Like the story of Adam Langford’s untimely death in the mission field, recounted by Bailey McBride, or the story of missionaries reaching out to hurting people in Sudan, these reports each point Christians toward the lost and away from inward thinking. They are not about grandiose visions but about ordinary efforts to change one life at a time.
We applaud hands-on involvement in missions and the amazing dedication of full-time missionaries. These efforts are so intentional. They are grass-roots. They are deeply connected to our emotions and experiences. It is inspirational to see examples of people who refuse to see suffering around us and respond only with their checkbooks.
At spring break season, we applaud the many Christians who use the school holidays to go abroad for Kingdom Work. What a marvelous pattern!
But we cannot help but wonder how churches at home (not simply in the U.S., but everywhere) would be different if Christians truly began telling the story at home. Christians in the U.S., who control the bulk of financial resources in the kingdom today, can turn their minds and hearts to see the lost, suffering and needy next door. Can we also turn our minds toward telling the story at home? Christians in the U.S. also must begin to see the lost next door.
How can we turn our hearts toward the poor and dispossessed of the developing world where churches have so many resources? Millions of American children live in poverty in our cities and rural communities.
The church must face both these great opportunities with equal resolve to play a transformative role in cultures.
Perhaps this is another way of thinking of church growth — to choose to make a difference when and where we see the opportunities. John Ellas points this out in Views this month. Choosing to look outward makes all the difference. Many of us are willing to go thousands of miles, but we also must challenge our hearts to identify with our next-door neighbors.
Inner-city ministries recognize the poverty, needs and hungry hearts that are nearby. Rural poverty in the U.S. is well documented, too.
In both cases, hungry hearts and starving souls are next door in every U.S. city and town. Once our hearts are turned outward and our minds are fully aware of the great groanings of the human race, we will find many opportunities to serve. But service and benevolence alone are not our mission. Teaching about Jesus is the ultimate goal.
The irresistible magnetism of people who believe in the world to come, not simply this present world, can revolutionize the world when Christians have the courage to take action and to speak a good word for Jesus.