Friday, October 11, 2013

Nothing to Offer

I sat in the meeting with many questions in my heart.  Our congregation is considering involvement in a prison ministry, and we were listening to the director of the ministry tell about the needs of the prisoners.  My questions were not about the ministry itself.  I knew that Jesus commands us to visit those in prison, and this particular organization had been helping people for a long time, baptizing and making disciples.  No, the questions were much more personal.

I know nothing about the world these women have lived in.  How can I help them?

I'm a "good girl" who has never had to struggle for anything in my life.  How can I relate to these women?

What are they going to think of this obviously naive girl coming in to tell them "good news" while they are stuck in a prison cell?

Sometimes I wonder if God gets frustrated with my hard headedness.  You probably see the glaring problem with all of those questions, but I didn't.  Although I had been praying about my evangelism for a long time even before this opportunity came about, I just didn't get it.  I kept asking the same questions. "How can I relate?"  "What do I have to offer? " That day I realized that those questions were all about me. 

After that meeting, God had to yell in my ear (through the kind words of the prison ministry director and the powerful words of the Bible): "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!"  I'm a little hard of hearing sometimes, and I needed a large dose of Scripture to get it.

To begin with, God pointed to his son.  Jesus was a "good guy."  He had never gotten in trouble.  We have no indication that he suffered in the same way as the people he loved while he was here on earth. And yet miserable people sought him out.  The physically and spiritually sick did not flock to Jesus because they could relate to him; they simply knew he had the words of life (John 6:68).  

I have the words of life too.  Jesus is not on earth anymore, and he has entrusted to his followers the very words he used.  Forgiveness. Love. Mercy. Grace. Salvation.  These words are the very answer to my question.  Those are the things that Jesus offers. What do I have to offer?  Jesus. 

Peter and John knew this.  When they entered the temple, their hearts were moved with compassion for the lame man who lay at the gate.  They didn't waste time asking themselves what two healthy but poor fisherman could offer a lame beggar.  Instead, they offered Jesus. (Acts 3:1-8) Although I don't have the miraculous spiritual gift of healing, I know the Great Physician.  I know that He is capable of helping women in prison break loose from addiction and codependency if they put their trust in him.  

Paul was known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, but he was as Jewish as they come. Amos was a farmer who was to speak to the upper classes in Israel.  Philip, a Galilean apostle, was called to speak a servant from the court of the queen of Ethiopa.  None of them worried about how they would "relate" to the people they preached to.  They simply spread the message God gave them and left the results up to Him.

At the end of the meeting, I asked the questions on my heart.  The director of the prison ministry very kindly told me that all I needed was love for these women, and a desire to share the gospel with them.  Suddenly, I felt very silly.  Of course I have something to offer.  I have Jesus.  


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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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