INTERNATIONAL SITUATION REPORTS
GOOD NEWS - God is Still at Work (Compassion)
from Ron Pearce
One of the most overlooked indicators of a spiritual awakening is compassion, which can be defined as the "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others." The Bible often speaks of God’s great compassion, and I’ve chosen a few examples to share with you:
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. (Psalm 116:5 NASB)
He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save. (Psalm 72:13 NASB)
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way." (Matthew 15:32 NASB)
The Bible also clearly indicates that a basic element of our walk with God is to reach out to the hurt and needy with compassion. Consider these verses:
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12 NASB)
For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35 NASB)
Compassion. This word describes the heart of God, and should therefore also describe the heart of a believer in Christ. Loving others is not an option for those who have experienced the supernatural love of Christ. It is our trademark! Jesus described for us in no uncertain terms the telltale sign of a truly born-again disciple in John 13:34,35:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
When a lost and dying world looks for solid proof of our salvation through Jesus, the first thing they look at is our actions—especially in times of need and crisis. What sets us apart from the crowd is a heart that feels the same pain that God does for the needy.
There are millions of good and caring unsaved people in the world today who give their time, money and talents to assist in caring for the needy. (And I in no way judge or criticize their wonderful efforts.) What strikes me is that without God indwelling their lives through the Holy Spirit as is described in the Bible, they are limited by human effort and driven on by human vision which sees life completely different than Christians do. This has been referred to as "the skim milk of human kindness." If this is what unbelievers can and are doing, just imagine the potential power of the Body of Christ when Spirit-empowered believers are unleashed en masse.
Every national church planting ministry with which Empower partners is deeply involved in some form of compassionate assistance to the poor, the destitute and the downtrodden. It is not just an add-on to their ministries, but an integral part of their mission to be like Christ and win the lost. They are not using physical gifts of mercy as an allurement to proselytize people of other religions, but instead are extending God’s compassion and love to anyone—saved or unsaved—who is lacking the necessities of life (food, shelter or clothing). They display to a watching world what comes naturally to those who have been born again.
In North America, some believers have interpreted Christ’s command to have "love for one another" as only applying to those within the Church. In other words, they take this to mean that it is our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are to "love," and all others we should just "like”. But stories from Empower’s ministry partners around the world who are experiencing outpourings of the Holy Spirit report that Christians are loving fellow believers as well as people from various religions. Why do Christ’s followers respond in this way? In an outpouring of God’s Spirit, a Christian's true colours shine brightly as we share compassion—with impartiality—to those who are uncared for by the world. And unbelievers are astonished!
Many years ago, I remember travelling with a leader of the Chinese house church movement. He told me that one night, as he and a small group of fellow pastors were travelling home from preaching in a distant village, they passed behind a hospital. To their surprise, lying on the ground in blankets and rags, were about ten (I can't remember the exact number) crying newborn babies that had been discarded because they were females. The pastors gently picked them up, carried them home, and quietly distributed the babies to Christian families who would nurse, care for, and raise these little girls. Remember, at that time in China there was a strict enforcement of a one-child policy and most non-Christian parents wanted a male heir. When I asked the leader why Christian families readily took these babies in, he responded, "Because believers in Christ immediately upon being saved view life completely different. We will sacrifice anything to save a living soul on earth, and now those little girls will grow up knowing Jesus and have eternal life as well."
This correlation between saving a life now, and saving a life for eternity, is critical in our understanding of what an outpouring of the Spirit looks like. You cannot separate the lostness of a human soul for eternity from loving that same person while on earth. This is why a vital component of caring is sharing. Sharing what? The Gospel of Jesus Christ with the person we are caring for. Why? Because we ourselves were lost and now have been found by Jesus. Because we were headed to hell for our sins and now are on the pathway to heaven. Because we once didn't know Love, but now have found Him who first loved us. Now Christ calls us to reach out in compassion to those who are spiritually blind that they might find Christ. Then, each and every follower of Christ can say with the blind man that Jesus healed in John 9:25, “…once I was blind but now I can see.”
This is why it is imperative to combine each opportunity to present the Gospel with loving, compassionate assistance of the essentials of life. People are hungry—not only for physical food—but also for spiritual food that will last throughout eternity. Times of intense need are opportunities of a lifetime! No unbeliever will thank us on the other side of Judgement Day if we withheld the Truth about eternal life from them, at a moment in their life when we had their undivided attention. A pastor friend shared with me this fitting example: imagine a friend's house is burning down while they are asleep inside and you watch from the sidewalk, afraid you might offend them by interrupting their sleep in order to save their lives. What type of friends would we be?
Over the years, some humanitarian-based Christian ministries have downplayed the presentation of the Gospel when presenting vital aid, while others have completely eliminated any element of evangelistic emphasis from their ministries. Some have done so in order to garner additional funds from unbelieving donors who do not place any value on the message of salvation through Jesus. These organizations feed the stomach but disregard the Bible's urgent message to reach the souls of the lost. At Empower, rather than parachuting in assistance and then leaving without a word of Hope, we always place such aid in the capable hands of national pastors who present to the lost and needy both a loaf of bread and a message about the Bread of Life—Jesus.
What is the World Looking For?
In these unprecedented times, the world is looking for a miracle. As the global aftereffects of the pandemic are producing unemployment, hunger, starvation, homelessness, and utter hopelessness, national believers show evidence that God miraculously transforms the life of a born-again believer. They are sharing—often out of their lack—with the lost and needy, all in the desire to rescue the lives of the unsaved on earth and introduce them to eternal life in Jesus.
Rest assured that Empower invests your donated gifts of compassion through solid, holistic, national church planting networks that combine Hope with food, Truth with clothing, and the Word of God with shelter. Stay tuned for our next report of Good News from Around the World.
I appreciate hearing from you and I want you to know that I read each and every message you send. If at any time you wish to comment or respond, please email me directly at: