Saturday, January 18, 2014

Building Bridges ...

of Hope...

It’s snowing outside. Again! It’s so beautiful to look at from inside where it’s warm and cozy and the falling snow is beautiful to see from my picture window. It looks like God is shaking powdered sugar all over the chocolate earth!

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and I am grateful to have a warm little house to hide inside while winter roars and little brother earth trembles outside my window. I am in a reflective mood today. On this beautiful winter afternoon, I have just finished reading a story about the poverty stricken families in a faraway land, where the children are born and live their entire lives in desperate poverty, hunger and abuse. My heart has been moved to sponsor a child through one of their programs, to give a child hope and a future, not just in this life, but for eternity. I will sponsor a little girl through the Bridge of Hope, an outreach to the poorest of the poor in India, through the Gospel for Asia.

These beautiful children are given a hot meal, clean clothes, taught to read, and told for the first time, almost always, that Jesus loves them.  These children, who have no life in their eyes and who never dream that they were made for so much more, are transformed by the life changing message that Jesus loves them enough to die for them. They respond to the Gospel with the innocence of a child. They believe what they hear and they grab ahold of God’s hand when they see it extended to them. No wonder Jesus said we must become like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They don’t debate with God. They just fall in love with Him and chase after Him, as little children do.

My heart has been stirred with the plight of these children. In his heart wrenching book, “No Longer a Slumdog”, the author, K.P. Yohannan, tells story after story of children whose lives have been forever changed by the ministry of Bridge of Hope Centers dotting the landscape of this huge country we know as India. We think of this as a faraway land, a culture different from our own, a nation very different from America. But, God doesn’t see it that way. God’s eyes don’t recognize national boundaries, or cultural taboos, or despise people based on their economic or social status. He doesn’t show favor to the rich while despising the poor. He doesn’t see anyone, least of all, a child, as someone that can be “thrown away.” God doesn’t choose favorites, at least not in the same way that we do. On the contrary, where we, in our culture, seem to favor the rich and idolize the young and the beautiful, God says He “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds… The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.” Ps. 147: 3,6

Now this is the problem I see in the church in America, including me!  Rich, affluent, comfortable, overfed,  and sometimes indifferent America. Most of us read the kind of things I just wrote about and say something like “Oh, that’s too bad. I feel so sorry for them…” And then we turn on the T.V. or go shopping. We medicate the discomfort that God wants us to feel to spur us into action

Don't believe me?  I can't tell you how many "Christians" I have talked to about sponsoring a desperately needy child who look at me as if I have asked them to do the impossible.  If the shoe was on the other foot, and you or I were the mother or father of a child in need, I know we would pray that someone who could help would do whatever it might take to help!

When I first read this book, I felt a very deep sorrow for the children and their families, trapped in this nightmare, with no hope, for their entire lives. But, feeling sorry for them isn’t what I knew the Lord was calling me to do. I knew He wanted me to sponsor a child. I knew it. And yet, I had “to think about it…” Why? Do I think that the Lord of the Universe speaking to my heart is something I can ignore? Is the cost of sponsorship (about $1 a day) too exorbitant a price to put on the head of a child in desperate need? Is God asking just too much of me? Are these children real to me or am I just reading a fictional tale about situations that are just made up?

On the other side of the question, if these desperate and suffering children with the dying eyes are real, how can I turn away? If it is God who is asking me to get involved, how can I ignore His voice? Who am I to ignore the voice of God in my life? Am I really a believer in the life saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Or, is it just a nice story I like to tell that has no real bearing on anyone’s life, including mine? God forbid that I should be so foolish as to ignore His voice and trivialize His Word in my life.

The thing is, either God is God or I am. If He is, than I am not. And so, I do His bidding. I submit to His amazing love for me and for others, some of whom I have never met and never will meet this side of heaven. He asks me to trust Him that He knows what He is doing and He will take my meager little offering and multiply it many times over in the life of a child that He loves…

As I look outside at the beauty of the falling snow, a picture book story playing out right outside my window, I thank God for the beauty of the world all around me. I realize how blessed I am to have a warm and cozy place to live, a job that blesses me with enough money to share with someone in need, and a God who knows me and loves me even when my needle is stuck on “well, it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all …”

He is so patient with me. He is so generous. He is so kind. 

Dear God, make me more like You…

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:
to care for the widow and the orphan in their distress..."
James 1:27 NKJV