Friday, as I was returning from town on my motorcycle, I came upon one of our small children far from the base, almost three miles, walking by herself. Sweat was literally pouring from her head, dripping from her face onto her Sunday best dress that she received for Christmas, her feet bare in the hot dirt. When I asked her what was the matter and why she was so far from home with no shoes, she replied that she was supposed to be in the tipper truck that was going to town on an outreach. These children had been practicing their worship for hours to go and reach the lost in the city market on Friday night. This little girl, only nine years old, ran into her house to retrieve her shoes (they were somehow already in the truck) and missed the truck ride to town. She wanted to go so desperately that she literally ran barefoot for almost three miles trying to catch up to our truck.
This little girl was abandoned by her mother and called ugly. No one wanted this little girl. She was shunned by society. You see, she has a cleft pallet, now partially fixed by surgery. This beautiful child runs hard after Jesus. She is loved and we call her beautiful, she really is. These are the ones that society has tossed away, these ones who love the Lord more than anything else. I pray for this kind of passion for that whom I pursue. Would that we all.
Another little girl whom you are now familiar with, Mercy, has overcome another major obstacle. On Thursday night during our nightly worship, I held Mercy close to me, moving my legs a bit to come down closer to her height and wrapping my arms around her. I was amazed. She let me hold her, not squirming or giggling. I then carried her on my back like we do the babies, sort of piggy back. She was so thrilled and happy, calling out to everyone to look at her. We stopped in front of her house and she brought me a chair to sit in.
I invited her to come sit on my lap and I draped her legs across my lap, cradling her head in my arm like a small child and I started to hum softly over her while caressing her arm. Amazingly again, she let me. We stayed this way for fifteen minutes, even closing her eyes and resting against me. Never has she done this, never. She can’t sit still long enough. This night she soaked in the love that Jesus was pouring through me. When it was time for her to go to bed, she gently rose from my lap and quietly watched me leave. This was not the old Mercy. This beautiful child was opening to love like a flower to rain. Yet another one that society threw away and called ugly…..
I have a cry in my heart that asks of the world, if you were asked to go and buy things to give away or to sit with the ones society calls “ugly” or the poor, the really poor, the really ugly, would you know anyone like this? Are you really a friend to anyone like this? If a good friend asked you to drop everything and come and get them from some trouble would you go or would you think about the cost or the effort it would take? Would it be a waste of time and energy and money, knowing that it would be abused? Then, would you still go again and again? We would for a friend. But would we go for the really poor or ugly?
It’s funny how most automatic responses to the severely deformed or maimed is to look the other way. Guilty! We’re afraid they might think we are looking at them. So we try to act indifferent, thereby showing our indifference. I would want someone to look me in the face and ask me how I am. Most likely they are doing better than we are.
I think many people give because it makes us feel better about all the things we do have. The Acts church shared everything they had. That would be like giving 50% of everything we have. I wonder how many could really do that. Radical thought hmmm. Sell my house and buy something half the price? Most of us tend to go the opposite way. Go grocery shopping and give half of it away to someone who really needs it? We buy so much junk that we don’t even eat. Buy two pair of nice shoes instead of one and give a pair to that single mom in church struggling to make ends meet because you notice how the heals of her Sunday shoes are worn away?
Are we really radical Christians? Or are we only radical at conferences and revivals and church? Do we burn with passion only at conferences and worship meetings with fellow radicals and yet not burn with a passion for what Jesus is passionate for, the poor and the ugly? If I waste my resources giving to the poor – Matthew 25 – giving to Jesus, and others want to extravagantly remodel their house or buy a $50,000 car, am I really that radical? If I waste my life sitting with the poor – sitting with Jesus – and others find themselves too busy to sit with their Bible, am I really that radical? I find it humorous that the radicals are only doing what Jesus commands us to do, yet the world calls us too intense or obsessed. I think Jesus wants a radical church, very intense.
These are radical times. The economy is a radical mess. The rich are radically rich and the poor are radically poor. The Atheists and Muslims and liberal church are radically pro this and pro that and many believe they have a right to be rich and it’s okay with God because He wants us all to prosper right, end of story. Ah, but the rest of the story is about the rich young ruler who loved Jesus but found it too hard to radically follow Him and “go and sell all that he has and give to the poor” Matthew 19:21. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven.
Most of the world lives on less than $2 a day. Anyone who has more is considered rich. I am reminded daily of this here in Sudan. I have a computer therefore I am rich. I have a motorcycle therefore I am rich. I no longer try to defend myself, because, I am rich. So I give myself to the poor and the ugly. I go to them where they are and I do what I can. I spend every penny that I have while I am here, going home with empty pockets only to bring more. I love them. I love them as if they were Jesus. That is really what the Lord is asking of us. Is there someone whom you pass daily or interact with who is thought of as really poor or ugly or a jerk or weird? These words could probably have described Mercy here in our little town. Now she is the life of the compound. Everyone loves her.
Mercy. One tiny little word. The cross gave us mercy. It’s time for us to give mercy. Every day I wake up and I tell myself, “Carolyn respond in love today”. In everything that I do, I need to respond in love. It’s not easy but it’s worth it. It will cost us everything if we are radical Christians, if we want to be like Jesus.