I recently took my son on a mission trip to South Africa accompanied by several other men from my church. Although, this is a beautiful country with indescribable landscapes, the hills are scattered with townships – the underdeveloped living areas that serve as stark remnants to the country’s apartheid past. Interestingly, as we entered the townships and the homes of many of the residents there, we were routinely met with warmth and generosity. For despite seemingly dire and impoverished circumstances, many of the people there were eager to share sincere hugs and encouraging smiles. As a result, I found as I have before, that as we went to minister to them, we departed with them having also ministered to us. Clearly, they have struggles, as we all do, and as I reflect upon my time there, I can’t help but consider what we all have in common – the need for hope. How this gift manifests itself to each of us however relies on what we decide to do with the opportunities we have to be the distributors of such hope:
Distribution: We have all been given measures of time, talents, treasures and testimonies; but what we choose to do with these gifts releases their power and potential. For we can either give in to our desire to acquire as much as we can get, or we can seek to distribute and share these gifts as often as the opportunities come our way (2 Corinthians 9:11). Ultimately, will our lives be defined by our pursuits of accumulation, or distribution?
Activation: When we realize the liberating power that resides within the understanding that it is more blessed to give than receive, we then face the challenge of activating this truth (Acts 20:35).In other words, the reality must move from our heads to our hearts and through our hands. This can be more difficult than it may seem for there are distractions to keep us sitting on our hands. For example, we may fear not having enough to share and/or losing what we have. However, when we realize that all we have comes from the endless supply of God, we understand we can never out give Him for He is the possessor of all time, talent, treasure and testimony.
Contribution: The resulting impact of our generosity is a life of contribution. This is when we also begin to discover another powerful truth manifest itself – we reap what we sow, more than we sow and later than we sow it. Therefore, may we consider what we are contributing? For the harvest of opportunity is plentiful though the workers are few. Therefore, let us pray for more workers and when our names are called, may we not hesitate to go in faith wherever He leads (Luke 10:2)
Application: “Burning Beds” – Romans 15:13
The need for hope is a powerful one, but more important than hope is the source of our hope. For if it is placed in anything other than Jesus Christ, we will be let down and resting lives on something as wreckless as burning beds. So, what was the source of the smiles and hugs we found in South Africa? What was the hope we all shared? It was Jesus and He was the truth that unified complete strangers half way across the globe in small township homes – and He can do the same for anyone in need of hope that reaches beyond their circumstances too.