I’m about to give you an inside view of how God gave me my next writing assignment. This one had more steps involved than most do, but God is too creative to assign tasks the same each time.
It begins with an assignment God gave a couple in the adult Sunday school class I attend. Steve and Kathie Arnold began an outreach that uses sewing machines as a means of spreading the gospel around the world. Yeah, something so practical as that is used by God in incredible ways. They have contacts in Africa, Russia, Albania, and some I can’t keep track of.
Their organization is called Come and Sew Ministries International. You can contact them at http://www.comeandsew.org Their latest endeavour involves widows in Albania. I’ve taken on the call to pray for these women as they come together to try to get a new start in life. Their situation is dire to say the least. Jobs are scarce for the best qualified, so you can imagine how hard it is for women with children to bring any income in for bare necessities.
While I was reading in Hebrews during my quiet time I got stuck on the third verse in chapter thirteen. In the New King James Version it reads: “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them–those who are mistreated–since you yourselves are in the body also.”
I don’t know about you, but when a verse jumps off the page and hits me between the eyes I don’t read any further that day. I got to thinking how those widows in Albania are prisoners in their culture. Their husband died much too young leaving them to scratch out a living for their family. Without any experience with God’s guidebook–the Bible–they often make some terrible decisions. Many end up in jail and their children are left on the streets. Now there’s this group of committed Christians who are starting an outreach to give them the hope of a new real beginning.
I would love to be able to give them all the money they need to open a new facility and reach as many women as possible. The problem with that is God hasn’t exactly blessed me in that capacity. So, like Peter and John in Acts 3:6 said: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” I decided to write a series of blog posts that demonstrate how God is concerned with widows and orphans in the Bible in hopes they can interpret them and use them as a Bible study in Albania.
Come to find out these women have been praying for exactly this resource to bring women to Christ as they learn to sew. Who knew? God did, that’s who. He’s just kinda sneaky how He answers prayer, sometimes. An open heart and a willing participant are His requirements. So, here am I Lord. Send me!
I’ll begin by examining the verse most Christians think of when this subject is brought up: James 1:27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
What is it about orphans and widows that requires our attention if we want to please God? I can think of two:
1) Both of these groups of people are in desperate need of help. God established the family dynamic to work with a man being the provider and protector of this basic unit. When that role is taken away there’s a vacancy in this structure. A society that reaches the needy is a healthy society. The problem with most societies today is they’re mostly concerned with individual needs being met. Little people are simply ignored.
2) Neither of these groups can give back to those who help them. If orphans and widows were important members of society there wouldn’t be a need to tell people to care for them. But, children are usually too small and weak to do most jobs, and women either have to attend to children or are too old and/or weak to do many jobs. This desperate set of circumstances gives us the need to be told to step up and take care of these people.
Let’s go back to the first word in the verse in question: religion. What is religion? Coming before God in a manner that pleases Him to appease His judgement. We all want to be on God’s good side when He brings the gavel down on His decision as to whether we get to go to Heaven when we die. Right?
The problem is we’re all just like those orphans and widows. We’re in desperate need because we have nothing to offer God for our passage into His presence. He is perfect and He demands only perfect people to be in His dwelling place.
So, what chance does anybody have to get to Heaven? That’s where Jesus steps in. God came to Earth and took on a human body. He lived the only perfect life ever because Satan couldn’t get the perfect Son of God to sin. Then, Jesus died on a cross to take the punishment for each person’s sin; whether you’re the wealthiest person with the power that comes with that or a totally destitute person left all alone, Jesus died for you.
When you accept this gift that Jesus is handing you by declaring you have nothing to bring to God because you’re a sinner and there is no alternative but Jesus’ death. Then, when God looks at you an amazing thing happens; God sees His Son Jesus and accepts you as His child forever.
That’s right, God becomes your Father, your Provider and Protector. Your next step is to live out the last part of our verse: to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Don’t worry, God has provided you with the strength to carry that out.
I’ll see you later. Wade