Tuesday, May 28, 2013

EXTREME GENEROSITY

THE CHRISTIAN'S SECRET WEAPON

As you no doubt know, lots and lots of non-church people are bitterly antagonistic to the church. One of the issues that bugs them is their belief that churches are after their money. Is it possible to demolish this seemingly impenetrable wall of perceived money-grabbing, selfish churches? I believe we have in our hands an effective weapon that can change the entrenched attitudes of non-church Harry and Mary. The weapon is 'extreme generosity'. Sacrificial love in action, with no hidden motives or agendas.

I want to tell you a story of the most extreme generosity I have ever seen. The main parts of this 'event' are etched on my memory as though they happened yesterday. It's all about an inward generosity and it's not about money. Whewww! I hear you say!

My wife Averil and I were on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra at Balige, a small town five hours drive from the city of Medan. Some ladies from the church where we were staying invited us to join them on their weekly journey to an outlying village. It involved quite a long drive on a narrow windy road to this village where, on arrival we were taken inside a simple, tiny and dingy house. Because there was no artificial light, it took us some time for our eyes to adjust to the dark interior. When we could see a little better we were introduced to a lady of indeterminate age who was looking after a younger woman described to us as 'gila', crazy (but because of what followed, I'll call her 'Cantik', beautiful). This person was barricaded behind a head-high, rough, board fence that straddled the room. Her hair was ugly and matted, her eyes red and wild and her face angry and contorted. We were shocked and not a little afraid. A rope was tied around Chantik's ankle and fastened to the wall. And a hole had been cut in the floor that served as her toilet. We assumed the other lady in the house to either be her mother or grandmother.

The church ladies prayed for and spoke softly and kindly to Cantik while some of them carried a large tin bath down a hill to the river to fetch water. They then took Cantik out of sight and proceeded to gently bathe her, shampooing her hair, powdering her body with Johnson's Baby Powder, (I can still remember the tin!) making her look and smell like a princess. Her hair was clean and nicely in place, peace was shining from her previously wild eyes and her face showed signs of gratitude and calm.

I can't say the villagers were all converted because of this generous sacrificial service - though I'm sure they were impressed! The church ladies weren't doing this to 'grow their church'. They were 'sowing' and 'watering' leaving God to cause their seeds of kindness to grow. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) They were doing what Jesus said, "...be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." Matt. 5:16 (The Message). Can you think of a more effective weapon?

In 2006 I again visited Balige and was curious to know if anything had happened to Cantik in the 12 years since we were there. The pastors, Yos and Eli told me something that brought tears to my eyes. "God healed her," they said with wonder in their voices. As for me, I chocked up and couldn't speak but silently marveled, not only at the church ladies' love for this broken, helpless woman, but God's love for her too. These people, and their God considered Cantik beautiful indeed. And according to Heb. 13:16, the sacrificial service of the church ladies filled God's heart with pleasure...."Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God."

Your feedback is welcome. Be free to 'forward' this letter on.

Many blessings.................Jack Guerin, Waikanae, NZ.

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