I want you to think of someone living in absolute poverty. If you can, though, think of a young man and woman, with a young son and daughter, living in the countryside in Africa. They don’t have much more than a grade school education.
Their home has no running water and no electricity. In fact, most of their community is lacking basic utilities. They farm on land handed down to them from his parents. They eat when and what they can. When one of them gets sick, there’s no insurance to pay for a doctor visit or medicine, and there’s no doctor close by anyway.
In your opinion, what would you say a family like this needs most of all? Clean water? Food security? Other income opportunities? Medical care? Education for their children? There’s no easy answer. Each is critical to permanently pulling this family out of poverty.
But, what about the Gospel? I could certainly make an argument for the importance of any of the above, but when it boils down to what’s most important, I believe their eternal salvation.
But while I believe this, I still feel a sense of urgency to provide for their practical physical needs.
So there is this tension—between what is most important and what is most urgent.
Jesus felt this tension too. He came to earth to preach the Gospel and declare salvation to those willing to follow Him. However, I can think of only a few people who came to Jesus with spiritual or eternal questions. Most of those seeking out Jesus had illness, disease and death at their doorstep.
While Jesus used these immediate needs to bring the masses, He never lost focus on the souls of people. Jesus knew what people really needed was eternal salvation for their souls.
Bright Hope has modeled our ministry after that of Jesus. We certainly want to give what we call Hope for Today to people urgently in need of healing or rescue. And we know economic development in the form of Hope for Tomorrow programs changes the trajectory of families and allows them to break the grip of poverty while on earth.
But the dance, the world series or world cup if you may, is in the Hope for Eternity arena.
In many ways, our Hope for Today and Tomorrow programs point people toward the greatest goal: to bring Hope for Eternity to every person we encounter.
When we come in Jesus’ name and feed an empty stomach or provide a scholarship to keep a child in school, we are watering dry souls, opening the door to share about the love of God and His undiscriminating gift of eternal life.
Nothing matters more than our Hope for Eternity programs. If we simply save a life from this poverty, what good comes if they end life in the poverty of eternal darkness?
Picture one more thing before we part ways today.
Imagine, someday in heaven, you bump into someone. They have their whole family there. You never met them on earth, didn’t know their names, and they say to you, “Thank you.”
You turn and say, “What?”
They say it again, “Thank you.”
“Thank you because you helped us in our hour of need.”
You gave the gift or said the prayer that changed everything for them. In faith and trust, you gave, and God took your gift and changed a life—changed a whole family—not only while they were on earth but for all eternity too.
What a day that will be.