I mentioned earlier this week that my water heater was out. Turned out it was two parts that were bad, so it took four days to get it running. The upshot is my bride, son, and I had to go next door to shower, and took a load of dishes over to run through the dishwasher (don’t you wish you had neighbours like that?). What I realised from this is that we are very spoiled!
Let me tell you about some of my friends around the world:
“M” lives in the Philippines with his bride and daughter. M helps care for a number of widows in the shanty town he use to live in – out of his own money. He could have a nicer house and enjoy better clothes, food, and so on if he did not feel a biblical burden to minster to these women, and to many others in need around him.
The “Js” have devoted three decades of their lives to a country where Christianity is more or less tolerated, if you don’t say much about it, and don’t try to get others to follow Jesus. They live far from the border and do not have daily contact other Westerners. They see family and friends every few years, and must watch what they say and do, and must be careful about what they say in e-mails and calls “back home” lest it result in being arrested and deported.
Various friends in Western Africa have told me about water that runs an hour a day, and electricity that’s not much better. I’ve heard of bus rides for hours packed in with way too many people – and their animals. When the bus stops in the middle of no place the men go to one side, the women to the other – to “use the bathroom.” One couple I know build a house for a faithful local family – the cinder block and tin roof home, that has fewer square feet than my bedroom, was considered a very nice home because it had a cement floor (not a foundation, but an inch of concrete poured inside after the walls were up).
Then there’s “P” who lives in South Africa and minsters in a neighbouring country – feeding women and their children in prisons (most have not been officially charged, much less ever been to court), and sharing the Gospel in small villages deep in the jungle. P lives in a house surrounded by a ten foot wall with broken glass embedded on top. Inside the wall are dogs, which P told me are not pets, they are there to attack anyone who makes it over the fence. Recently P’s son and the son’s young wife were returning home at night. When the son got out to open the gate, several youths knocked him down, jumped in the car, and speed off, with the wife still in the car. Calling the police was a waste of time, but prayer was not. In another part of town a man not know to P was in prayer when he clearly heard the Lord telling him to go to a certain street corner in a very bad part of town. The man got in his car and reached the corner just in time to see the stolen car slow down and shove the wife out the door. Had the man not been there to pick up the young woman, her life would almost certainly have been lost. Because this man heard and obeyed, the couple escaped with a few bruises and a stolen car – and they are still praising God for what He did.
Why do all these men and women do what they do? Why do they choose to live in conditions that I and most of you reading this can’t really comprehend? Why do they risk their and even their children’s lives? They do it because of the One who did not stay in the grave. They do it because Jesus didn’t just die for us, He rose for us – the first fruit of the resurrection that He freely offers to all who will receive it. They do it because they love Him, they do it because they feel a deep inner desire to serve Him. These men and women do not act out of compulsion or fear, but rather out of love and a desire to share with others the good news that they have so gladly received.
He is risen indeed!