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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Remember the Poor

By Randy Hurst
Nov. 18, 2012

Thanksgiving season is an especially appropriate time to intentionally turn our thoughts toward those who have far less than we do.

When the apostle Paul appeared before Peter, James and John in Jerusalem to defend his mission to the Gentiles, he recounted in Scripture only one instruction the three church leaders gave him: “Remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10, NIV).

Perhaps in Paul’s passionate appeal, he focused so strongly on his call to proclaim the gospel that he failed to mention ministry to the poor.

The leaders at Jerusalem could have said, “Feed the poor,” or “Care for the poor.” Why did they say, “Remember the poor”? Probably because the poor are so easy to forget.

When we are accustomed to comfort or abundance, we can easily forget that others are hungry and suffering. When we face struggles and needs, especially in today’s economy, it’s easy to forget that many millions of people are in far greater need than we are.

Strangely enough, it’s easy to forget the poor no matter our condition — whether we are financially secure or in great need.

As in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Spirit of Christ within us does not permit us to “pass by on the other side” when someone is in need. If we do, it reveals something tragic about the character of our hearts.

As followers of Christ, we have the opportunity to come alongside and do as the good Samaritan did. There is no indication in Scripture that the Samaritan assumed financial responsibility for the man for the rest of his life, but he gave the help needed until the man recovered.


The long reach

The church is God’s ordained agency for both reaching the lost and touching the suffering. Assemblies of God world missionaries and our fraternal national churches throughout the world are committed to being channels of God’s blessing. This enables the Fellowship to accomplish together what we can’t do separately — providing “the long reach” between caring hearts in America and desperate needs around the world.


Efficiency and effectiveness

Almost 2,700 missionaries serve with a network of more than 350,000 local congregations in 253 countries, territories and provinces throughout the world.

Missionaries and national believers are the most efficient means of providing food, clean water, medical care and education because they are already there — in place to touch poor and suffering people with Christ’s compassion. Because of this, we can act more quickly than other ministries that come on the scene sometimes weeks or months after the initial, greatest needs have passed.

When missionaries are already on the field, they are able to maximize contributed funds and be resourceful in their efforts. In contrast, most other organizations use a much larger percentage of contributed funds for operational costs.

Historically, many missions organizations have diluted their purpose to mere social reform at the exclusion of proclaiming the gospel. But we believe Jesus’ words: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV).

Feeding the poor and caring for the suffering are both kind and Christian. But if we must choose between ministering to physical needs alone or doing so while presenting the gospel and providing a place of spiritual growth, the choice is clear.

Unless the needs of a person’s eternal soul are addressed, any effort to meet his or her physical and social needs is incomplete and temporary. Our mission is to enter into our Lord’s work of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).

Compassion ministry through AG World Missions is always integrated with sharing the gospel and establishing the church. Whether giving medical care to the suffering or feeding the hungry, our missionaries always attempt in some way to share the good news about Jesus and connect people with a church.

In some countries, especially in recent years, relief efforts have been the means through which doors have opened to the gospel. Responding with compassion to natural disasters and civil wars has resulted in believers being born into the body of Christ and churches being established.

Our missionaries and national churches all over the world comprise a network that can meet the most desperate needs of the poor in efficient and effective ways that maximize the impact of donated funds. Food can be purchased reasonably in large quantities and distributed efficiently by Christian volunteers. These caring believers extend help to the needy, not only to address hunger and clean water but also to save lives in health crises.

For example, more than 800,000 people died in Africa last year of malaria, and 86 percent of those were children under the age of 5. But malaria is preventable — and at a very low cost. For less than the cost of a meal at a fast-food restaurant, a mosquito net large enough for a family of four can be purchased and delivered to provide protection from disease — and even death.

This Thanksgiving, let us be faithful to recall God’s blessings on our lives and express gratitude for all we have — whatever our economic state. At the same time, may we heed the instruction given to Paul and “remember the poor” who have far less than we do.

God, who sees each sparrow fall, values every person on earth and has called us to value and care for them. When we remember the poor, we can make a difference in their lives — not only now, but for eternity.


RANDY HURST is communications director for Assemblies of God World Missions.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.