The middle-aged woman sat, cold and alone on the winter pavement. She wore a dress, revealing legs amputated below the knees. In her hand was a plastic cup, coin less in spite of her begging. If this was not enough anguish for her soul, her wheelchair had been stolen.
I found myself in downtown Cape Town, South Africa, one crisp July afternoon. I was on outreach with “Youth With A Mission” [YWAM]. Our team was spending the day with a Christian organization that ministered to the homeless. Sally and I were sent with Quinton. He knew all the locations of these poor people, and had once been homeless himself.
I learnt a lot that day. As Quinton conversed in Afrikaans to the woman on the street, I held a bag of second-hand clothes and tried not to cry. Moments later, he reached into the bag and pulled out a red knit cardigan. He wrapped the garment around her shivering shoulders and helped her arms into the sleeves.
This poverty-stricken, crippled creation of God raised tear-filled eyes and whispered her thanks. She now had warmth. Clothing. Not even food or shelter, but she was grateful.
Friend, can you sense God’s heart for this woman? Every person born on this earth has been handcrafted by the Lord [Psalm 139]. The world’s wealth is unevenly distributed, so people like me behold people like the South African woman, and shudder.
Since returning from my mission trip, I have a greater appreciation for the material blessings of Western World nations. In South Africa, a squatter camp was five minutes’ walk from a ritzy shopping mall. Third world met first world. Yet we also visited slum areas, and met some happy people. The old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness” rang true.
My life was changed in South Africa. Some of us get to go to the nations of the world, others support from the home front. Your money, your time spent praying, your heart open before God crying, “What can I do, Lord?” are valuable in the Kingdom.
Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations of the earth for your possession.” Perhaps God is gently prodding your heart towards your own personal experience of missions. With flights so readily available, the Internet and the network of Christians worldwide, perhaps you will be the next person in your neighbourhood to return from a trip, changed and enthusiastic.
Most importantly, what has our loving Father called you to do for Him in your lifetime? Because that is what you should be doing. James 1:27 states;
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
Undoubtedly, there are orphans and widows in towns and cities all over the world. As you think about your sphere of influence, you can likely identify at least one person you know of who is fatherless or has lost a spouse. Can you pay them a visit? The mission field is everywhere, even right before your eyes. God trusts you to make a difference where He has placed you. Ask Him who He’d have you impact today.