Compassionate Ministry!

To have compassion means to empathize with someone who is suffering, and to feel compelled to alleviate such suffering.

By Derek Maxwell

During one of my first trips to Moldova I remember seeing a destitute lady sitting on the sidewalk begging. In her hand was a large card with a written plea: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ help me!’

Like many that day, I walked past feeling a certain sadness for her but did nothing to relieve her suffering. How guilty we have been of walking on the other side of the road hoping, like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, that somebody else will do the right thing.

But as we know from the Scripture’s account, along came a Samaritan who had ‘compassion on him’ (Luke 10:33) and ministered to him.

To have compassion means to empathize with someone who is suffering, and to feel compelled to alleviate such suffering. The Bible reveals the responsibility of God’s people to help those in need in the world, and abounds with examples of genuine compassion.

The compassion of Christ can be clearly seen in the Gospel narratives. We observe His compassion for the helpless and hurting who were like sheep with no shepherd (Matthew 9:36); for the sick and suffering (Matthew 14:14); for the hungry (Matthew 15:32). 

We read of His compassion for the widowed who were especially vulnerable (Luke 7:11–15).

Like the Samaritan, we too should have a compassion that is not only emotive but moves us into action!

Many people today feel that their world has collapsed around them. They are unable to trust anyone; they feel there is no way forward, and life is overwhelming for them. But many of these suffering and hurting people are part of God’s great harvest field, and to such God sends faithful servants. It is clear from the Scriptures that God wants us to be compassionate!

‘Compassionate Ministry’ is one of the core values and principles of Slavic Gospel Association, by which we endeavour to meet the physical and emotional needs of people and communities, and as a way of sharing Christ’s love and the message of salvation. SGA’s medical care, children’s ministry, widows’ project, and the different aspects of ‘Phoebe’ ministry all come under the umbrella of ‘compassionate ministry.’

Often this approach is bridge-building evangelism – a bridge of trust built by ministering to people’s needs, so that in time and with prayer, hearts are turned to Him.

Recently I read this profound and accurate quotation,

“People will not care what you know until they know that you care.” Anon.

It is difficult if not almost impossible to share with people that God loves them if they have had no food to eat for days! Through our compassionate ministries, provision is made for the vulnerable and needy in society and practical Christianity is demonstrated, while the Gospel is proclaimed. 

May we, along with our teams on the field, be sensitive to those whom God brings into our lives. We may be those whom God uses to turn their whole lives around!

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