I’ve been outside the United States a few times. Twice, I went specifically to serve people in the name of Jesus – once to Nicaragua and once to Ethiopia. In each instance, the time spent serving people from another country/culture changed me as much as it changed the people there. In many ways, during those times, I was forced to take my thoughts off of myself and my “things,” and put those thoughts towards other people.
Now, Dave Black (November 11, 2010 at 7:26 a.m.) has written an exhortation that I cannot ignore. I hope, as you read it, that you cannot ignore it either. We must ask ourselves what we’re doing… really doing… in the name of Jesus, and what we’re doing in our own name. Are we completely giving of ourselves, or are we holding part back so that we can maintain our stuff?
Here is the quote:
I had been hearing about missionaries all of my life. And now I’m the GIF, the Guy In Africa, that eccentric person who can’t feel comfortable among opulence any more, who stays up half the night thinking about a sick child in Alaba or a suffering woman in Burji or a persecuted evangelist in Gondar. I don’t ever want to lose this feeling, this marveling at the world, this attraction to a country called Black-Faced (Ethiopia) filled with outcasts and dying people and babies suffering from malaria and women needing fistula surgery, this nation of 80 million people worshiping their trees or their saints or their false gods. I never want to forget how incredibly small you feel when you’re trying to bring medical supplies through customs or watching the heart-wrenching poverty or scooping up a half-naked infant or standing next to the graves of missionaries from past generations who went out to the field and never came back home (or was it ever “home” for them again?). Can you imagine what would happen if Christians in America were to grasp the principle of sharing what they have to meet the needs of the Gospel around the world? Can you imagine what the impact would be if we stopped spending 95 percent of our church budgets on ourselves? Can you imagine the change it would make if we lived a lifestyle that matched our responsibility to a lost and dying world? Seven years ago my lifestyle was up from grabs. Every thought and every action was tested by the simple teachings of Scripture. I decided, along with Becky, that I would lay up no treasure for myself on this earth. Suddenly I was free — free from my bondage to material things, free to allow God to use me — a nobody — to be His hands and feet and arms in Africa.
I can imagine the impact. I can imagine the change. I’ve seen a small sample personally, and I’ve read about it in the New Testament.
The question is… now that we can imagine it… are we willing to live it? What is preventing us (me and you) from living it?