(an excerpt from Open Doors)
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3:18)
In his book, The Upside Down Church, Pastor Greg Laurie says, “The first Christians didn’t out-argue pagans—they outlived them…Christianity made no attempts to conquer paganism and dead Judaism by reacting blow by blow. Instead, the Christians of the first century out-thought, out-prayed and outlived the unbelievers.
“Their weapons were positive not negative. As far as we know, they did not hold protests or conduct boycotts. They did not put on campaigns to try to unseat the emperor. Instead, they prayed and preached and proclaimed the message of Christ, put to death on the cross, risen from the dead, and ready to change lives. And they backed up their message with actions – giving, loving.”
A co-worker shares a significant event he witnessed among Christian children in Egypt:
A crowd of smiling faces awaited us as we entered the small stuffy room. The ages of the children ranged from eight to eleven years and they were seemingly oblivious and unaware of the circumstances surrounding their village—poverty, problems and persecution. To be a Christian, let alone a Christian child, was not an easy life.
It was Saturday evening and the excitement that filled the air overwhelmed any feeling of self-pity and despair that might have existed. Between thirty and forty young boys, each equipped with a large maize bag, excitedly awaited orders.
As we entered the room the youth leader saw the frowns on our faces and answered our questions even before we could ask. “Yes, it’s Saturday evening,” he started explaining, “and tonight the children will once again ‘invade’ our little village. They will go to every house in every street. They will ask the inhabitants whether they have enough bread to eat or not. If there is more than enough bread in the house they will ask the families to place any extra bread in the bag for those who do not have enough bread.
“The children will continue until all the bags are filled to the top. Then the fun part of the evening starts. They will then go back to all the homes where there was not enough bread to eat and distribute so that every family in our village will have enough bread to eat for the next week.
“They do not have the means to provide it themselves, but regardless of their own needs, they have become instruments of love to eradicate all hunger in our village.”
What a perfect illustration of the Kingdom! We are given in order to give. We get to participate. What an honor. What have we been given that we can give? We are conduits, stewards and instruments, carriers of the maize bags. We receive in order to give, we are branches to bear fruit, and we are rivers through which His waters (Gal 5:22) flow. Our banks widen only to allow more of His water to flow through us (to others), we branches grow only to bear more fruit (in others), and we receive more only to give it away (to others). Love is a verb, and it is others who benefit, in practical ways, in Angola and elsewhere.