At the last Musical Prayer Meeting on 25 Oct, I shared on what happened when Jesus saw a large crowd. His heart was filled with compassion for them. Seeing the crowd stirred up something within His heart. He acted upon what He saw. He reached out to them with compassion. He responded to their immediate needs. He did not avoid them or ignore them or neglect them but He graciously attended to their needs. He healed those who were sick. It is as if Jesus is seeing a crowd of disillusioned or disturbed people, He reaches out to them by showing compassion for them and then, saving the community who needs His healings. The Bible passage which I was sharing on is Matthew 14: 14 – 21. The impact of what I see is great if it results in having compassion on what I saw.
There are needy people around us. Do we notice them? Do we reach out to them? Or do we leave them to the philanthropists, the social workers and the counsellors to reach out to them and take care of them? In the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the word “philanthropy” means “the caring of man” in the sense of caring for, nourishing, improving and enhancing the quality of life for human beings. A philanthropist is someone who makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being. In Acts 6: 1, it is recorded that “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” Did we neglect the needy people amongst us? The concern for them arose from my recent reading in an article in the “Jews for Jesus” magazine. The article reflected on the heartbeat of God for the widows, the orphans and the fatherless. In James 1: 27, it is recorded that “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.”
There is a great need in the Christian community today to identify this group of people, to know and understand them and henceforth, to reach out to them. We need to give them our attention and our listening ears and demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion for them. Basically, there must be sufficient impact in what we see before we can effectively reach out to them. The key word is “Compassion”. The word “compassion” means “recognizing the suffering of others and taking the necessary action to help.” My prayer for us is that our hearts will once again be filled with compassion for the needy people among us.
There are several ways which we can do to show genuine care and concern for them. Let us begin by praying for them by name individually. Of course, before you can pray for them, you need to get to know them and their needs. To begin the journey of knowing them, we need to pray for ourselves first. Ask God for His wisdom and His guidance as to how He would want you to reach out to them. Ask God also for an opportunity to befriend them and to truly listen to them. Ask God to overflow you with His love and His compassion. Ask God that you will be sensitive to the prompting of His Spirit as to whom He would want you to reach out to that Sunday or that following week.
Next, you can write an encouragement card to them, sharing with them that you care for what they are going through. It requires consistency, diligence and efficiency on our part in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in distress or affliction. Once the relationship is built up and established, you may want to consider making some visits to their home if they are comfortable and open. It is always good to minister to them in pairs. Try to visit in pairs rather than by yourself alone. Of course, it is not easy to always get another person to be available to visit together with you.
“Reaching out to the needy” is a ministry by itself. Let us start praying to God for His direction in regards to reaching out to the needy among us. The needy among us needs our attention and our encouragement. Most of all, they need our listening ears and our prayers for them. Let us not neglect them but instead notice them and nourish their lives with genuine love and compassion that come from God who “comforts us in all our afflictions” (see 2 Corinthians 1: 4). Let us make great effort in reaching out to each of them. May the Lord our gracious and loving God help us to be a community of His people who genuinely ministers to the needy people among us.
Preacher George Ang
November 11, 2012