What would Jesus do?
Reflections from Leonard Tapiwa Makoni, Director Scripture Union, Zimbabwe
Chipo (not her real name) is 12, the second daughter and third born in a family of four. She shares one grass thatched hut with her mother and two brothers (14 and 7). Typically they have one major meal a day made from boiled barley. The mother is frail, pale and wasted more by outside pressures than the infirmities of her body.
This family was returned to their rural home after spending just over a year on the streets in one of our major cities. When drought struck their area, the father could not help but take everyone to the city to survive. After about two months of visiting a Scripture Union contact centre where they accessed food, clean water, a safe place to play, Chipo and her little brother led staff to the rest of the family. These four were helped to return home while the father remained with a new wife from among the women living on the streets. Their first daughter (16) was found to be pregnant from one of the boys on the streets.
On enquiring about the family’s welfare it came out that almost no support came from the community, including the church. With teary eyes Chipo’s mother explained that she is forced to sell some of their monthly food assistance so that she can pay her monthly US $ 10.00 dues to their church. This was to be sure that their church will assist her children to bury her when she dies!
Chipo’s case is one of many untold stories of suffering made worse by their church.
While the church is swelling in numbers, it is shrivelling in love and compassion. To many church leaders “church” has become a business venture that pays no taxes and absolute power is not questioned. More resources are spent on elaborate high tech buildings at the expense of God’s people. Many leaders are “mini-stars” to be served instead of ministers who serve in love and compassion. We have become salt that has lost its saltiness.
God invites us to the true “fast”: “Isn't this the fast that I have been choosing: to lose the bonds of injustice, and to untie the cords of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Isn't it to share your bread with the hungry, and to bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him with clothing, and not to raise yourself up from your own flesh and blood?" Isaiah 58:6-7 (ISV)
1. Do we sometimes boast and magnify our performance in serving God? We often share and communicate about the good works we do – the real challenge is though: do we see the poor and needy around us and stop to help?
2. Who is the poor, oppressed, homeless, naked and imprisoned in your community? Matthew 25:34-36 presents us with a challenge – will our church be amongst those who have been found caring for the poor?
3. Develop a plan of what you will do as an individual, group or church to practically meet the needs of the people in your family, church and community at large who need to see God through your lives.
Let’s pray that God would use the local churches in cities and rural settings to be the present and supportive of their communities, responding in love to all in need.