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Beyond words


Jesus — pro-life for the poor

“Did you enjoy yourself today?” I asked the woman and her young daughter as they left the Convoy of Hope outreach.

The young girl smiled as she raised a balloon in one hand and a candy cane in the other.

“We’ve never been treated with such kindness,” the mother said, her arm around her daughter.

“Do you live in this area?” I asked. I wanted to be sure someone could follow up with further help.

They pointed in the direction of a neighborhood close by.

“We live over there,” the woman said.

“In the neighborhood behind the church?”

“No,” the mother said a little more cautiously. Then, “Let me show you.”

They led me toward a dumpster and a broken-down bus behind the church.

As they approached the dumpster, the young girl pointed. “There,” she said innocently. “We live there.”

My heart collapsed when I looked behind the dumpster and saw a makeshift shelter of plywood and cardboard.

I was incredulous. “You live here?”

They both nodded.

            ***

Jesus commanded us to “care for the least of these,” but we have to admit some Christians have cared the least. This has left a gaping hole in their mission and forfeiture of God’s blessings. Moreover, some Christians appear to be only focused on one issue — abortion. Hopefully, these believers will expand what it means to be pro-life to protect the child in the womb and save the child in the slums.

Jesus was pro-life for the poor. His whole life and ministry demonstrated compassion to His local community that would ripple throughout the world. His “Nazareth Declaration” announced His strategic plan at the very outset of His public ministry. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus positioned himself as the fulfillment of God’s desire to reach the outcasts of humanity:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18,19, NIV).

The expression “to be moved with compassion” appears 12 times in the Gospels and is used exclusively in relation to Jesus and His Father in heaven. When Jesus saw the crowds harassed and dejected like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36), He experienced their pain and lostness in His own being.

Jesus’ compassion was revolutionary because it addressed both the spiritual roots and social consequences of people’s problems. The outcasts of His day were banished, yet He invited them to touch Him. The religious leaders cast judgment, but Jesus declared forgiveness for those tormented by guilt. Those oppressed by evil spirits were bound, yet Jesus proclaimed their liberty. While Jesus’ followers cared for the sick and lame, He chose to heal them. When His disciples couldn’t see past “spiritual matters,” Jesus saw a hungry multitude and fed them. Jesus was a Compassion Revolutionary, and you can be one too!

Adapted from Compassion Revolution by Dave Donaldson (Harvest House Publishers), due for release January 2010


DAVE DONALDSON is co-founder of Convoy of Hope.

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