As this year quickly (and thankfully!) comes to a close, I am amazed to ponder all that God has done through us in such a difficult and uncertain time. By God’s grace, we have been able to not only feed hundreds of hungry families but also give away countless thousands of Bibles and tracts to spiritually starved people.
Two Ways to Starve
Notice that I just referred to two distinct kinds of hunger or starvation. The first is when you lack food for your belly, and the second is when your soul is famished for the Word of God!
I’m here to tell you that many people in Peru seem as excited to receive God’s Word as they do to receive a bag of groceries. I’m not sure that is the case in our more "developed" nations. Unfortunately, as Paul wrote in the letter to the Philippians, most people walk "as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things."
In contrast to this, let me share with you a beautiful testimony from earlier this year in Peru...
Jumping for Jesus
I met this one special young man, slightly handicapped, while stuck in traffic at a busy intersection where he was polishing car windshields for tips. After he finished, and I had given him a bit of cash and a New Testament, he excitedly told me that he too was a Christian. We shared a few brief moments of friendly fellowship, and then the light turned green and traffic began to rumble on.
As I drove away, I happened to glance back in my rearview mirror, only to see him with hands raised to the sky, pumping his fists like a basketball player who had just hit a game-winner, jumping up and down for joy! I rarely cry, but my eyes immediately welled up with happy tears as I drove away, thankful that we’d met and hoping that I'd see him again someday.
Why was he so happy? Well, I don't think it was the small tip I had given him. The kid loved Jesus and, in spite of his tough situation, was simply excited to meet a like-minded friend who shared his love for the Lord.
Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice
Speaking of rejoicing in Jesus, I want to share the following story from the famous Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who languished in a Communist prison for 14 years in the 50s and 60s. If this doesn’t encourage you to be truly and deeply grateful this Christmas season, nothing will!
The vile, greasy smell of the soup preceded its arrival in the cell. Shreds of rotten cabbage and unwashed offal (intestines) floated in a scum. But to eat was a duty, and I emptied my dish.
"How can you?" asked [my Muslim cellmate], whose stomach had revolted.
It was a Christian secret, I said. "I think of St. Paul's words 'Rejoice with those that rejoice.' Then I remember friends in America who are now eating grilled chicken, and I thank God with them as I take the first mouthful of soup. Next, I rejoice with friends in England who may be eating roast beef. And I get down another mouthful. So, by way of many friendly countries, I rejoice with those that rejoice---and stay alive."
The [Muslim] and I had to share a bunk through the hot, stuffy nights. I was lucky not to be on the floor.
"You lie very still," he said as others coughed and fidgeted around us. "What are you thinking? Does St. Paul help you now, too?"
I replied, "Yes, for now I rejoice with those in the West by thinking of their comfortable homes, and the books they have, the holidays they can plan, the music they hear, the love they have for their wives and children. And I remember the second part of the verse, from the Epistle to the Romans, 'And weep with those that weep.' I am sure that in the West many thousands think of us and try to help us with their prayers.
Heaping Helping of Intercession
Oh, Lord, may it be so with us! Although, how easy it is for us to rejoice in our own blessings and neglect to weep and intercede for our brothers and sisters who are suffering.
Pastor Wurmbrand is now with Jesus, but there are still thousands like him today in places like China, Iran, and North Korea. The least we can do is add a heaping helping of intercession to our Christmas spread, fulfilling the command in the book of Hebrews:
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them.”
We are one Body, whether in a Chinese jail, polishing windshields at a Peruvian stoplight, or at home on Christmas Day in the middle of the USA.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all this Christmas!
The West Family