“Teach Christ always. If necessary, use words.” – St Francis of Assisi
It is always such a pleasure to spend time with my CHE friends and colleagues. We have just wrapped up a great four day conference with representatives from Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, India, PNG, Papua and Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos. When I listen to these folks give reports on their activities, I feel like they are family. They understand the importance of meeting the needs of the whole person if you truly want to transform individuals and families.
I am reasonably sure that St Francis Assisi was aware of the verse in 1 Peter 3:15 that says “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence”. But how can you give an answer if no one asks a question? Why would they ask a question if they don’t see you living your life in a way that is different from the rest of the world around you? When people see us loving the unlovable, sharing what we have with those who don’t have, and living out the greatest commands (Love God, Love others) THEN they ask questions. They want to know why we do it, day in and day out. Why would we bother? What drives us? What do we get out of it? THAT is when we use words, because then it has become necessary.
You might well ask, “But what if it takes two years? What if they are of a different faith? What if they are prostitutes? What if they are drug addicts or alcoholics?” Love them anyway, it will get them thinking and maybe they will ask the question.
This is what CHE is about, genuinely caring about all the needs of the whole person, responding to them with no strings attached, and showing them their value in God’s eyes. Then we have earned the right to answer the deep spiritual questions they long to hear. It was such an encouragement to hear report after report of how communities and individuals are being changed by this approach. It was such a privilege to be able to share the work that has been going on in Cambodia during this past year. It was such a challenge to hear about the task that lies ahead of us.
It is that task, of changing lives through the power of Christ’s word and His sacrifice, that we ask you to pray for. God is doing wonderful things in South-East Asia. People have been praying for the 10/40 window that runs through North Africa for years. In our time we are beginning to see the Lord answer those prayers. Great changes are coming for the kingdom. Those changes will happen in South-East Asia as well if we continue to be faithful to the one who has called us to care for the whole world, and for all His people, no matter where they live.