In lieu of this week's normal Project Story, we are excited to share with you a new video!
Two IDES staff members were recently blessed to spend time with several mission partners in India. This video shares the story of how YOUR generosity is transforming lives in Jesus' name. Thank you so much for taking the time to watch - please continue to pray for those who are suffering, and for those who are serving!
Many of us dread going to the dentist or the doctor.
It's uncomfortable, it takes time from our work schedules, and some visits can be expensive.
For families in low-income and impoverished communities in the Philippines, these visits can be life-changing.
On Easter weekend in Lahore, Pakistan, a suicide bomb worn by a local Taliban-affiliated man went off in the middle of a crowd of Christian brothers and sisters who were celebrating together in a park.
Over 75 people were killed. More than 300 men, women, and children sustained injuries, many of which now require ongoing treatment and maintenance. The majority of Christian families in Pakistan, which make up only 2% of the country's population, are extremely poor. Although the country has improved its poverty rates tremendously in the last decade, there are still thousands of families who are very poor, Christian, Muslim, and otherwise. These families, especially those affected by the attack, cannot afford long-term medical care.
Here's where you enter the story.
In the most impoverished and/or rural areas of developing countries, the local church (if there is one) is often relied upon by the surrounding community to fulfill many different roles.
Of course, the church building (or shaded tree, or secluded hut) is the main place of worship and teaching. But in some villages, the church is also the primary meeting place for general public gatherings. In others, the church is the first source of basic assistance when food or water is scarce. In rural India, the church often functions as the doctor's office by providing basic medical care and first aid for free to poor families who have no access to modern healthcare systems.
The most beautiful aspect of a local church's multifaceted role in its respective community is this: every act of service or provision is another opportunity to share the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
According to the UK charity AVERT, "an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses," since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s.
The epidemic is particularly destructive in developing countries with limited access to healthcare and education. Just last year in Sub-Saharan African countries, over 2.1 million new HIV infections were recorded, at least 150,000 of which were in children who were infected during infancy by their HIV-positive mothers.
One of the side-effects of the AIDS virus without treatment is a chronic weakening of the immune system. The virus attacks certain types of blood cells, thus leaving a patient vulnerable to multiple other life-threatening diseases such as Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and chronic diarrhea. This side effect is the sad reality for one little boy in Zimbabwe named Givens (and many others like him).
Imagine that your child was born with severe disabilities, requiring continuous care and attention. To make it worse, it was clear that your child would be confined to a wheelchair for the majority of their life.
As your child grew older and you learned to care for him/her, violent political conflict erupted in the city near your home. The local economy collapsed and your family was struggling to make ends meet, let alone stay safe from the conflict. As you tried to rebuild your economic stability, finances were increasingly tight--so tight that you realized you would not be able to provide the certain kind of wheelchair that your child would need. What would you do?
This is reality for certain families with children who have special needs in Kosovo.
In less-developed countries like Myanmar, medical facilities are few and far between. Fewer still are the medicines and treatments needed to fight diseases such as Tuberculosis and Malaria, both of which are curable if diagnosed early.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that deteriorates the tissue of the lungs, along with causing weight loss and regular fever. It is spread through fluid droplets, such as the blood that many patients cough up once the disease has progressed.
"And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay." - Matthew 10:7-8
Evangelism can be as easy as knocking on your neighbor's door, or as simple as a small act of kindness for another.
However, in countries that are "closed" to the Gospel, evangelism is not that easy. Whether the country has a nationally declared religious system, or the social culture is built around a different faith than Christianity, it can be incredibly difficult to find ways to openly share the Gospel.
However, difficulty does not make evangelism impossible.
And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." - Matthew 11:4-6
Throughout history, God has been looking out for the poor and marginalized. His heart is not only clearly demonstrated in Jesus' actions to love and serve the destitute as recorded in the Gospels, but also expressed in small-but-meaningful ways such as His instruction to the Israelites to leave the edges and leftovers of their harvest fields "for the poor and for the sojourners" to gather and eat (Leviticus 23:21).
We could easily create a mile-long list of all the examples in Scripture that express God's heart for the lowly, but others have already done so before us. (Find some of those lists here: God's Heart for the Poor). The lesson to be learned is that we should have a heart of compassion for the poor and marginalized, too. Jesus is our example. We are to follow Him in obedience - much like IDES' mission partners in Pakistan are doing.
"Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel." - Matthew 15:30-31
"There was an old lady holding her sick grandson," reported our partner in Pakistan.
It starts like many of the most famous stories in the four Gospels. "And a man was there with a withered hand"...or a "mother-in-law lying sick with a fever"...or a ruler saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death."
Then Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior and Healer, would compassionately touch these sick and suffering people and heal them of their illness or injury.
Want to know the best part about each of these stories?