The Living Gospel
As we move toward the earth’s greatest harvest of souls, we must begin asking ourselves how we can help prepare for and facilitate this. It will not occur simply because God wills for it to happen; He will do it through us, the church. And it will not occur just because we preach the gospel with our mouths. We will need to preach it with our hearts and actions. Someone once said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words.”
I was in Guatemala in 1976 when a devastating earthquake killed 30,000 people in 30 seconds and left 1,000,000 homeless. Our mission changed; we immediately began assisting the victims. In San Pedro, I helped a lady look for a watch. It was her husband’s - he died in the earthquake, as did three of her children. She and her surviving 3-year-old had nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Their small adobe home was now a mound of dirt.
Our interpreter asked her what she was looking for as she dug through the dirt. “A bag of beans we had and my husband’s watch [a very cheap watch]. He was sleeping about here when he was killed,” she said, pointing at a small area. “It would mean so much to me if I could find his watch and the food.”
We started digging.
Although it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, we asked God to help us and waded into the three-foot-deep pile of dirt. Right then I’d have charged hell for that watch! We found it an hour or so later.
“Muchas gracias,” she repeated through tears, as she clutched the watch to her breast.
“Treasure” is such a relative term, I thought as I wiped my eyes. I wish the world could see this. Maybe some priorities would change.
I watched another lady, holding her young daughter, walk away from a food line I was serving in. She was the last person in what had been a long line for the soup. As she held out the empty jar she had found, we looked at her and said, “No mas” (which means “No more”). Then I watched her walk away, holding her hungry child.
Things got all messed up at that point in my life. My list of “needs” shrank considerably. Some of my “important” goals became strangely irrelevant. Things that mattered suddenly didn’t. Bank accounts were looked at differently; success was redefined. Funny how one glance into four eyes can bring such chaos. In many ways, order has never been restored.
For months following the earthquake, I traveled with teams through Guatemala building shelters for villagers whose adobe homes had been destroyed. We trucked in materials and built small, one-room, dirt-floor homes for them during the daylight hours. In the evenings we would hold services in the center of the villages, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, explaining that His love was motivating us to spend our time, money, and energies helping them.
Too often the church’s approach to evangelism is: share the gospel; hopefully, people will receive it and become part of our spiritual family; then, perhaps we’ll help them with material needs such as food, clothing, etc. This is not how God operates. He demonstrates His love for people while they’re still sinners (Romans 5:8). In the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus told us to love (agape) our “neighbor” as ourselves. A religious leader listening to Him asked, “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus gave the religious leader a conundrum. In that day, a person’s nationality and religion could be determined by what they wore and how they spoke. However, Jesus’ story eliminated those markers - the man in the ditch who needed help was “naked” and “half-dead,” unable to speak. Those passing by could not determine if he was part of their nationality or religion and therefore, “worthy” of care and compassion.
Consequently, two Jewish leaders passed him by, not knowing if he was a “neighbor.” A Samaritan stopped and helped him, not knowing who he was, where he was from, or what he believed. Then he paid for his care. Jesus asked, “Which person was a neighbor to the man who had been robbed?”
“The one who showed mercy toward him,” was the religious leader’s reply.
“Go and do the same,” Jesus told him.
We are never commanded to love only our brothers and sisters, or those who believe as we do. We are commanded to love our “neighbor.” One group of “neighbors” God has spoken often to me about over the years are those in the Arab world. I believe they represent one of the largest people groups who will come to Christ in the imminent revival. Obviously, they are not all terrorists! Do not automatically or subsciously make that association. Most of them are beautiful people God loves with great passion. Though most have a different religious belief system, that being Islam, they are “neighbors” Jesus loves.
At this point in time, the most effective way to reach people in those nations is through humanitarian causes, just as we did in Guatemala. It is illegal to proselytize in most Muslim countries. Some of them, however, allow individuals to share their faith if asked about it, and a hungry person often asks, “Why are you doing this? Some estimates say up to 50% of Guatemalans were won to Jesus after the earthquake. It’s quite simple: acts of love open hearts.
I believe the Middle East will be visited by this outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the near future. One nation that would obviously be part of this is Lebanon. However, for some time this country has been suffering greatly. Just in the last year and a half, their currency has lost 90% of its value, resulting in incredible poverty, affecting people’s ability to eat, be clothed, have housing, receive healthcare, be educated, and more. They’ve also experienced some structural disasters that devastated their trade abilities and are currently limping along without an elected government.
Ceci and I have decided to help our “neighbors” there this month. Our daughter works with a humanitarian organization that has been working in Lebanon for over 20 years. They have schools, feeding programs, distribute physical aid and provide medical care in the region. Their work is amazing and this month they are putting all of their online donations towards work in Lebanon.
What’s happening in Lebanon is extremely sad. It’s also an opportunity. A humanitarian organization we’re familiar with, Heart of Mercy, has told me that, due to the extreme devaluation of the Lebanese currency, the current output of the American dollar can be multiplied by 10. Five U.S. dollars has the impact of $50; $100 currently has the impact of $1000. This is creating a significant opportunity, as a crisis always does. After hearing this, Ceci and I felt led to sow into this organization and the work they are doing in Lebanon.
I encourage you to pray regarding this coming harvest, but also to be like the good Samaritan. Sow some seed into a ministry or humanitarian organization that is reaching people in practical ways. Especially pray about doing so in a Muslim nation. If you do not have an avenue you’re already using for this, you can find out more about what Heart of Mercy is doing and how to sow into them here.
Saint Francis of Assisi said, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”1
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
(Luke 10:27 NASB)
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for our salvation. We thank You for Jesus, the Cross, and resurrection. Thank You for loving us while we were yet sinners. It is unquestionably true: we love You because You first loved us.
As we prepare our hearts for the coming harvest, we ask You to remind all of us that our “neighbors” are not only those who think and believe as we do. They are everyone around us, all around the world. We pray that the church will rise to the occasion and seize the opportunities being created. You most certainly will reveal to those who do not know You, including those who worship false gods, that their religions and idols are not able to help them. I pray that we are ready to seize the opportunity when this occurs. Prepare laborers now for this harvest. And may we be generous and willing in the day of Your power. I ask this in the name of Yeshua. Amen.
We declare that the love of God will be the church’s motivating force in this hour.
Click on the link below to watch the full prayer.