I know that Christmas is a time of joy for many people. However, I also know that it can be a time of frustration, too.
Perhaps you are frustrated because there are more needs than you can possibly meet. Perhaps you are stunned by the recent terrorist atrocities against innocent people in places like Paris and wish there was something you could do. Or perhaps, time pressures make it hard for you to really focus on the hope Jesus brought to earth with his birth and you long for some quiet moments with him.
Believe me, I too feel swamped with needs that never seem to end and demands that keep crowding into my time.
It was pressures just like these that compelled Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) to the discovery of Community Health Evangelism (CHE). Perhaps this story will give you new hope in facing the pressures weighing on you.
When Medical Ambassadors realized we could never do enough to meet the needs of those around us, God prompted us to call for his help. He answered in a surprising way. God empowered MAI to teach others how they could help themselves and their neighbors.
Let me give you an example that comes from a communist country I cannot name. For years, the local people have been taught there is no God. In this Godless culture, people could not work together because they did not trust each other. Husbands distrusted their wives and mistreated them horribly. Neither men nor women were content, and many turned to alcohol. Community life was in shambles.
When an MAI staff person visited this community, he looked for a local champion who believed things could be better, and he found a pastor of a small struggling church. The pastor listened to stories of how God had used other churches to transform their communities. There were several keys to accomplishing this:
- The church needed to choose its own leaders to be in charge.
- The way to reach out to their community had to blend caring for both physical and spiritual needs.
- The church must agree to constantly seek and train others who could copy their example.
The church started with a kids’ club that taught local children practical ways to live better. High school kids did dramas in school about the downside of promiscuity and abortion. All this soon interested their mothers. Then these mothers heard Bible stories that showed how Jesus saw value in women who had been thought worthless by others. In addition, these women learned how to start small businesses to help their families economically. Suddenly the men were interested, too.
It seemed like a miracle as God began to transform the community. Many adults started leading small home Bible studies, where they told and retold Bible stories. They asked what those listening liked about the stories – what they learned about God, and what they were going to do differently because of the stories. They held each other accountable, and participants began carefully retelling—hundreds of times—the stories they had heard. Dozens of people accepted Jesus and the little church became a multiplying church in a place where churches do not easily multiply.
One night a Christian husband and wife in a new CHE community were praying fervently for their neighbors, when suddenly there was a loud banging on their door. Outside were two extremely dirty drunken men. The new CHE couple recognized them as divorced neighbors now living on their own. They invited the inebriated men to come in and sit down, but the men said they were too dirty. The couple urged them to come in anyway, encouraged them to sit down, and gave them food to eat.
Suddenly both of the drunken men began to cry uncontrollably. They were overwhelmed, because it had been so long since anyone had treated them with respect. When the CHE family told these men a story about Jesus, they were quiet, and eagerly agreed to return to hear more.
This story is not over, because it only happened a few weeks ago. However, I am sure you can feel how hope is spreading through this communist community this Christmas.
I have watched these good changes happening in communities around the world, and I’m beginning to understand that never-ending needs are God’s specialty. He is able to work through many other people to accomplish things that Medical Ambassadors could never accomplish by itself.
Does this story give you new hope? This Christmas, God might use you to change your community or a community on the other side of the world. God can transform you to become a modern-day hero who brings lasting hope to others. MAI will connect you to opportunities to partner with MAI’s front-line workers worldwide. God is using them to change communities from the inside out. We cannot change the world, but Jesus can, and he uses all of us to accomplish his work.
I am sure that when you know God is calling you, you will not say “No.”
Please listen for what God is nudging you to do. Perhaps you will be the next hero on his team. Check out the response slip for options.
I pray that the God of peace, hope, and joy will give you more reasons to celebrate this Christmas and in the New Year to come.
John Payne M.D.
P.S. Jesus used Medical Ambassadors to show me a new way to serve the world. He can use you, too, to touch wounded hearts and families as he cares for their never-ending needs.
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