SEND Relief: A Call To GoAugust 1-5
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ – Matthew 25:44-45 (ESV)
A parable is told of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church one Sunday to hear their duck preacher. After they waddled into the duck sanctuary, the service began and the duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly. He pounded the pulpit with his beak and said, “With these wings, there is nowhere we ducks cannot go! There is no God-given task we ducks cannot accomplish! With these wings we no longer need to walk through life. We can soar high in the sky!”
Shouts of “Amen!” were quacked throughout the duck congregation. The duck preacher concluded his message by exclaiming, “With our wings we can fly through life! WE … CAN … FLY!!! More ducks quacked out loud AMENS! in response. Every duck loved the service. In fact all the ducks that were present commented on what a wonderful, powerful message they had heard from their duck preacher … and then they left the church and waddled all the way home.
In Matthew 25 Jesus teaches that the Final Judgment will include people who professed to be His followers but gave no evidence of being His followers. Jesus expects His followers to make an impact in the communities they live in. His list included feeding people and giving thirsty people water. It also included people who needed clothes, who were sick or in prison.
On Sunday, Bryant Wright inspired us to be a part of the SBC Send Relief program by helping to strengthen communities all over the world through authentic care and consistent presence. The emphasis was on people hearing and seeing the gospel. How did God challenge you to be involved?
Praise God for His compassion for the suffering people around the world. Ask God to make it clear where He is sending you to strengthen communities.
Care For Refugees
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. – Exodus 22:21 (ESV)
In the 1940s, Fred Craddock began serving as a missionary to India. When World War II ended, Craddock’s church wired him funds for a steamer ticket to return home. Arriving in his port of departure on Christmas day, Craddock discovered a disturbing sight. A ship of German-Jewish refugees had been allowed to temporarily dock, and these exiles had been stuffed in small spaces with no human comforts. Craddock used his money to buy pastries for as many as he could. When he informed his church, they asked, “Don’t you know they don’t believe in Jesus?” “Yes,” Craddock replied. “But I do.” (Donald Jewell)
God expects us to care for refugees simply because we are Christians. You won’t find the term “refugee” in the Bible. But the Word of God has plenty to say about people called “strangers” and “sojourners” or “foreigners” in our translations. “Strangers” and “foreigners” refer to anybody who was from another ethnic group but had chosen to live with the Jews in Israel — no matter what category they might represent in today’s terms. Israelites were to call on their empathy for refugees because they had been treated cruelly as refugees who were made into slaves in Egypt. And since we, as believers, were once strangers outside God’s kingdom, we can identify with the idea of not belonging as the reason why we treat refugees or displaced people without discrimination.
Every day, refugees are forced to leave everything to find security, opportunity and a new place to call home. We learned that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus by helping refugees find spiritual, physical and emotional healing through Send Relief’s projects. What did you learn in the sermon about ministering to refugees that you didn’t know before?
Praise God for changing your status as an alien of God’s Kingdom into a citizen of God’s Kingdom. Pray for the refugees that God brings to your mind. Ask God to help bring healing and relief to their lives.
Protect Children and Families
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. – James 1:27 (ESV)
The movie Blindside depicted the true life story of NFL player Michael Oher. Michael was born in Memphis, TN. His dad was murdered and his mom a cocaine addict. He didn’t have a permanent address until he was 16 and went to 11 schools in 9 years. At the age of 16, he had a measured IQ of 80. Michael was staying with a friend whose son was going to Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. The friend decided he should go as well. While at the school, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuhoy, whose daughter went there, saw him. They also saw him again on Thanksgiving break. He was walking to the gym, even though he wasn’t on the team. He just wanted to stay warm. They took him into their home, and he lived there for most of his high school career.
The Tuhoys owned about 60 Taco Bell franchises. One day they went into Michael’s room and found a bunch of food stashed in his room. He was stashing food because he was accustomed to not knowing where his next meal was coming from. They told him he could go into any one of their restaurants and get something any time he wanted. Michael eventually became a first-round draft-pick of the Baltimore Ravens.
One of the ways the book of James describes religion that honors God is that we take care of children, especially orphans. Across the globe, children are suffering from malnutrition and a lack of educational opportunities. In North America, the need for foster and adoptive families has never been greater. For the ones neglected, the ones forgotten, the ones in need, we must step up if we are going to live out our faith.
Where have you seen children neglected in our community? How is adoption and foster care a picture of the gospel? Everyone doesn’t have to adopt or foster children but what is a way everyone can help?
Thank God for adopting you into His family and caring for you. Pray for the children and families who are suffering in our community. Ask God to show you how He wants you to be a part of the solution.
Fight Human Trafficking
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; – Isaiah 61:1 (ESV)
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, about three million African slaves had been transported to the Americas on British ships. People being stolen from their homes, ripped from their families, robbed of their dignity, transported on ships 3 decks deep, squalid conditions, thrown into the sea if they got sick. Tortured on the way to work as sub-human beings. Christian abolitionists became deeply persuaded that this was a great evil. Among the bases for this belief was the golden rule – Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Abraham Booth preached a message in London, January of 1792 about how trafficking in human beings is incompatible with the gospel – calling people to imagine the slave ships landing on British shores and raiding London and Bristol and Liverpool, kidnapping your loved ones and dragging them away never to be seen again. When you can picture it happening to you, then you can picture what you would want someone to do for you, then you can picture what you should do for someone else. Do to others what you would have them do to you. (John Piper)
The Bible was written thousands of years ago but it has much to say about what we might see as a modern problem: human trafficking. In Isaiah 61, we are told that one day Jesus will come to set the captives free. The picture of Moses leading God’s people out of Egyptian slavery is a picture of what Jesus did when He came to set us free from sin. God calls us to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking, to work to prevent others from being sold and to bring the criminals involved to justice.
Today, we are told, trafficking happens in every nation on earth. Send Relief is on the front lines of fighting for the physical and spiritual freedom of those caught in human trafficking. What did you learn in the sermon about human trafficking that you did not know before?
Thank God for giving us spiritual freedom in Christ. Pray for those in our nation and around our world in physical and spiritual bondage. Ask God how He wants you to be a part of them finding freedom.
Respond to Crisis
Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man. – Psalm 66:5 (ESV)
The Chinese language represents the word crisis with two characters: one of them means danger, the other one means opportunity. If this is a crisis, it is a moment of great danger, but by the very same token, a moment of vast opportunity. Every natural disaster is an opportunity for God’s people to respond.
Psalm 66 is a song of praise, not for a tragedy that occurred, but for the unseen work of God during a crisis. It clearly illustrates the dependency of man on the greatness of God during times of trouble. Some believe the anonymous psalm was written after Hezekiah’s deliverance during a time of national distress. In the last section of the chapter the audience is identified as “all who fear God” [66:16]. Throughout this chapter the psalmist instructs the God-fearer regarding our response to crises.
Have you ever been involved in a natural disaster? How did it change your life? We learned in the sermon that Send Relief responds to crises across North America and around the world. They respond to a wide-range of crises, from distributing food and resources during COVID-19 to meeting critical needs in the aftermath of natural disasters to counseling a community after a mass shooting to helping families get back on their feet after a house fire.
Praise God for always being at work, even in the midst of disasters. Ask God to who you how you can be involved in preparing and responding to natural disasters for His glory.