Few things are as encouraging to me as seeing like-minded believers rushing to the aid of the broken. Perhaps it's because Jesus himself said it is one of the more direct ways of serving Him.
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25: 40, NIV)
Ah, to be able to say I served God directly - what an amazing privilege! So many times, I settle for vicarious charity, where I funnel my money through a tithe or a cooperative program, and that's fine to an extent, but there is something about looking into the eyes of another while I give. There is so much more exchanged than mere money.
That is why it is so encouraging to know that, according to recent reports, Christian nonprofits are currently outpacing the efforts of governmental agencies in providing aid to those affected by our recent rash of catastrophic hurricanes. You heard me right - as some government agencies are scrambling for funds, Christian organizations are rushing to give not only life-giving resources to the victims of these terrible tragedie, but also a life-giving message.
Certainly, this isn't new, but perhaps it's under reported. Believers did the same for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, outgiving our government counterparts in the realm of needed aid. My own denomination is currently soliciting able-bodied volunteers to join the effort. It's amazing, encouraging and, ultimately, personally convicting.
What can I do to emulate my brothers and sisters in this way?
Imagine a world or just a community of believers bent on rushing toward those experiencing tragedy, and not just from the likes of natural disasters but also from personal troubles. What if we were to rush to the aid of someone in the throes of financial ruin, someone struggling with his or her parenting responsibilities or someone who is simply the victim of his or her own bad decisions?
What if the whole of the Christian community adopted the mindset of first-responders?
We'd have to lay down our prejudices, of course, along with our hesitations and yes, our comfort levels. But through our actions, Scripture says, we would cause others to "glorify our Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
I hope our legacy as believers carries this reputation: that we run toward the tragedy and that we carry with us our God-given resources along with our God-given message of hope.
Missionary C.H. Studd once said, "Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." It's a powerful message, one that I hope we carry throughout whatever disaster, personal or otherwise, those around us experience.
I hope we build on this budding characteristic of the Christian community. I hope we don't recuse ourselves from seeking out victims and showing them God's love.
Email Jamie H. Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.