Encouragement From The Word

Valuing life

When I’m scrolling through my social media feeds, it takes something significant for me to “stop the scroll”.  Reading a post a couple of weeks ago by an acquaintance, whom I met while on a mission trip to India several years ago, made me stop.

As you may know, India is having severe challenges with the virulent spread of the Coronavirus.  Thousands of people each day are dying.

He said that the problem wasn’t that India didn’t have the resources to stop the spread of COVID-19; the problem is that there is a lack of value for human life.

Now, that’s just one man’s opinion, but this is his nation and his culture he’s talking about.  He understands it far better than I ever could.  And this is a sad assessment indeed.

I fear it is not limited to India, nor to the issue of the pandemic.

It’s a deep pond we’d be wading into, filled with quicksand, were we to begin the journey; this is not the forum for such conversation.  But you know the issues as well as I do:  once-civilized societies are demonstrating a lack of value for human life, whether at its beginning, its end, or its middle.

How do we turn that around?

One simple step is for all of us – starting with followers of Jesus, but spreading to all of society – to treat every other person as Jesus would treat him or her.    This doesn’t mean agreeing on everything; it doesn’t mean approving of everything; what it does mean is that each person has value because each person is made in God’s image.

Not every cultural or religious tradition grasps this, but as Christians, we do.

Let’s set the example.

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them” (Genesis 1.27, NLT).

Biblical Messages, India 2013

“Dispenser of India’s Destiny”

Today, it was my joy to share with the St. Paul’s Church family about my mission trip to India.  Joining me in the dialogue was Lina van der Wel, myP1030320 dear friend who was part of our Team, all of whom were sent through the Tyndale Spiritual Formation Centre.  Lina is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Tyndale University College & Seminary.  It was hard to compress into a half hour what a three-week journey was like, but by listening to it you should be able to get a tiny picture of our experience.  Psalm 72 was read before our presentation.  You can listen to our dialogue by clicking here.  The title, “Dispenser of India’s Destiny”, comes from the English translation of the Indian National Anthem, which can be ready with decidedly Christian eyes.

At the close of the message, we showed a photo montage from the trip.  The photos were contributed by several members of the Team.  The musical accompaniment is “I will never be the same again”, from Hillsong’s “Shout To The Lord” CD.  You can watch the photo montage in QuickTime here and in Windows Media Player here.  (Note:  These are large files and may take some time to download.)

This presentation has been immensely helpful as I process what God is doing in my own life through this trip.  My prayer is that it has in some small way encouraged others to grow an interest in mission involvement.

Encouragement From The Word, India 2013

A zeal for truth-telling

I’ve been blogging a bit while I’m in India, reflecting on the work I’m seeing God do in this most interesting country.  In a recent post, I reflected on the fact that India, while one-third the size of Canada geographically, has 36 times the population!  What’s more, only about 2% of India comprises Christians, so the church here plays a very minor role, both presently and historically.

However, what I see in the people I am meeting at SAIACS does not reflect the statistics.  One might think that a faith group that is such a minority might just barely be holding on, but the church in India thinks big.  I am meeting people whose heart for mission and evangelism is as big as the nation itself.

There are parts of India that are already thoroughly evangelized; one area in northeast India, I’m told, is 100% Christian.  By contrast, there are parts of south India where hardly a church is to be found.  Clearly, the need is great, but at the same time, there is great zeal for the work to be done.

I wish that in Canada we had the same passion for mission and evangelism that I see in my Indian sisters and brothers.  They have a willingness to sacrifice much – including the admiration of their friends and sometimes even connections with their families – to reach people for Jesus Christ.  And when they see God work in power, these people receive the Lord.  In some cases, they have experienced the complete inaction of their own gods in contrast to the powerful action of the Lord, and they respond.  It’s a bit like Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:  the prophets of Baal keep pleading with their god to act, but he never responds.  Elijah, by contrast, throws buckets and buckets of water on the altar, and God still sends fire from heaven.

We serve an awesome God who loves to be in relationship with us.  We all know people who are far from God.  True, their life circumstances may be so different from those of the people of India that they feel their own affluence is sufficient to carry them, but if they are shown the care and compassion of God, who loved us so much he gave his only Son, they, too, will come into a love relationship with the Lord.

What will you do today to demonstrate the love of Jesus to someone in need?

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25.40, NIV).