I mentioned a few posts ago that Prince’s visa denial has been appealed….YAY!!!! Over the past few months the Vander Weide family (which will be Prince’s host family once he gets here) has been working directly with Kofi to process the appeal. Tomorrow morning Prince and his mother have their Embassy appointment to move forward with the appeal. They also have another Embassy appointment next Wednesday, August 25th. Please join us in praying that Prince’s student visa is approved this time. Ghana time is 5 hours ahead of us, so please pray today and tonight.
I love the Vander Weide family. They have opened up their hearts to this boy that they haven’t even ever met. I pray that there are more Christians out there like them, that take Jesus at His word, and stand up and take action for the least of these….
When historians look back on us in one hundred years, what will they write about our nation of 340,000 Christian churches in the United States (by the way - that makes 155 million regular churchgoers)? What will they say of the Church’s response to the great challenges of our time – AIDS, poverty, hunger, terrorism, war? Will they say that these authentic Christians rose up courageously and responded to the tide of human suffering, that they rushed to the front lines to comfort the afflicted and to douse the flames of hatred? Will they write of an unprecedented outpouring of generosity to meet the urgent needs of the world’s poor? Will they speak of the moral leadership and compelling vision of our leaders? Will they write that this, the beginning of the twenty-first century, was the Church’s finest hour?
Or will they look back and see a Church too comfortable, insulated from the pain of the rest of the world, empty of compassion, and devoid of deeds? Will they write about a people who stood by and watched while a hundred million died of AIDS and fifty million children were orphaned, of Christians who lived in luxury and self-indulgence while millions died for lack of food and water? Will schoolchildren read in disgust about a Church that had the wealth to build great sanctuaries but lacked the will to build schools, hospitals, and clinics?
The gospel of Mark tells of a remarkable encounter between Jesus and a leper. In this brief story we get a glimpse of how God would have us approach the sick, the broken, and the downtrodden in our world. The leper was sick, and he was poor. He lived his life isolated from those who were whole. This man was marginalized, ostracized, devalued. Healthy people believed that those with leprosy were sinners, and their afflictions were a judgment from God. Yet, this man’s suffering and desperation compelled him. He came to Jesus “and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’” (Mark 1:40) The disciples were undoubtedly horrified as this unclean man approached their master. Any other rabbi would have been unwilling to become ceremonially defiled by any contact with a leper. But Jesus did the unthinkable to the untouchable: “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man” (Mark 1:41)
Did you catch that? Jesus’ heart was not filled with disgust, with fear, with hatred, with judgment, with indifference, with anger, or with condescension. Jesus was filled with compassion. “I am willing,” He answered the man. “Be clean!” (Mark 1:41) And the once-leprous man was cured.
If you are willing….This same petition hangs before every follower of Christ today.
Are we willing?
How will the Church of Jesus Christ respond to the “lepers” in our midst – the poor, the sick, and the oppressed, in our country and in our world? Are we, like Christ, willing to respond with compassion and urgency to those who suffer? Are we willing? Do we have the kind of faith, the moral courage, the depth of love, and the strength of will to rise up off of our padded pews to demonstrate the good news to the world?
(EXCERPT FROM THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL BY RICHARD STEARNS)