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Compassionate Evangelism

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I have had the opportunity to visit and participate in an Ethiopian mission field.  In doing so God has blessed my perspective on evangelism.  This Article was written in while in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. 

As we drove by a little boy laid sleep on the curbside.  His mouth was open while flies frenzied over his body.  The rags that served as clothes for him hung shabbily across his small frame.  The heat had settled on his flesh most of the day; making the unkempt young man ripe with odor, common to third world impoverishment.  The sound of cars whizzing by didn’t rouse him.  The voices mixing in the air did not stir him.  The periodic thud of men stepping over his limp body did not surprise him in any way.  Hunger has a way of making you settle on the peace you can have when the nourishment you can’t have is far from you! He lay asleep as we drove by.

Not much further up the same road a young girl, maybe 16 years or so, chanted in the window. Her sounds matriculated a plea for help throughout my mind.  Her words were as foreign to my ear as the mutilated frame she bore was to my own body.  I couldn’t linguistically understand her words but I clearly understood her question.  She wanted help.  It may very well have been that her deformity was the purposeful action of her own parents to serve them as a professional beggar.  However, she most likely is the victim of disease and depravity, a refugee of political unrest, a deformed Mephibosheth who was left with only this cry as an opportunity to have more. Her charisma kept her pleading. Just then, she noticed that we saw her legs. Her legs were turned in the opposite direction at the ankle. Her feet were hyper extended to the point that her swollen, busted, and bacteria filled toes were touching her shins.  While my eyes welled up with tears the light turned green and it briefly ended the pain of her constant appeal to be helped (though this image will forever be in my mind). 

“Seeing the people, he felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Therefore beseech the Lord of harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”” Mt.9:36-38

            The purpose of this lesson is to look at the passage before us as a reminder, so that we recognize our opportunities to change our world one soul at a time. In order to accomplish this purpose we will notice at least three things from this passage.

First, we see the thorough search of his ministry.  The text gives an appreciation of the drive for service of our Lord.  Matthew says that he was going through all of the cities and villages (Mt.9:35).  He had a moving search.  His search wasn’t one that sat back in the building or at home and desired that the lost come to him.  He went to the lost.  He also had a mind-full search.  He was in the cities and the villages. His ministry was as adaptable as the area that he went into. He healed in the city and He healed in the village.  It may be that our ministry or service will demand being adaptable.  Though the audience may differ in demographic, number, and need we must still create opportunities to address their hurts.  He also had a macro search.  He went through “all”, he left nothing untouched.  He is the shepherd that left 99 and came after the one or the one who searched high and low for the lost coin.  Like Jesus we must be on the move, and proactive in our search.  We must think according to our settings and leave no stone unturned.

            Second, we see the thoughtful sentiment of his ministry.  Do we really see the people through the eyes of Jesus?  The text says that “he saw the people”.  His vision pointed out certain flaws in his creation.  What he saw hurt him because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  He saw people who will die without proper direction.  He saw a people who will be a disappointment without purpose.  He saw people who would be disconnected without the power of deliverance.  He not only saw the people, he sympathized with their state. His humanity allowed him like never before to put himself in their place.  What a marvelous thought to know that Jesus feels, emphasizes, and has compassion for us.  We are able to apply a number of lessons to our lives from the thoughtfulness of Jesus.

            We must constantly see ourselves and others with the perspective of Christ.  Life without Jesus is a dead life. Life without Jesus is a distressed life.  Life without Jesus is a disappointing life.  We must also practice the compassion of Christ. He had deep sympathy for man.  He was able to sympathize with humanities pain by coming to the level of man.  In like fashion we must practice compassion by seeing the world through the eyes of those in need.

Third, we see the theocratic service of his ministry.  This is God’s harvest.  We are God’s harvesters.  We receive God’s help.  Our service is governed by God.  This is important to keep in mind as we remember that spiritual service is ruled by God. God’s work is a full time work that demands our all.  God’s will is to save sinful man.  This is a constant effort. This effort demands competence and consistency in our participation.  We are God’s harvesters.  To fulfill our calling as His workers we are equipped by He who sends us. God saves man to send man.  The salvation is a spiritual power at work and the sending is a spiritual empowerment at work.  

            In conclusion our Lord saw man’s need in a way that mobilized His every effort for the ministry of evangelism.  He served through the power of God and He did so from compassion.  We have the same task in front of us.  God wants us to see the world as He sees it, with compassion.  God wants us to move aggressively in our ministry.  God wants us to remember that this is His business. See, Move, and Remember! Do it!

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