"I pray to God every day and nothing happens." Al told me on Tuesday morning. He had just described to me how his family is destitute on another island and he hadn't sent money home for over a month. One of his wives wanted a divorce and another had left the children at a sister-in-law's house and not returned. I listened to his story and heard the hopelessness, as I sat on the sand talking with this beach vendor. What could I say? I said, "Jesus is the only One that I know who can help you. Jesus is the only one who can handle a problem that big."
The truth is that all seven billion humans on this planet are impoverished and spiritually broken. It's easy for those who have financial resources to feel strong and secure. The truth is that all of us are born into spiritual poverty and need the hope of Jesus Christ. We all need Jesus Christ as our mediator, to remove our sins and mediate our prayers to God the Father.
Physical poverty exposes the truth of spiritual poverty. When you look into the eyes of a woman who chooses prostitution to put food on the table. Or, see the hopelessness in the face of a young boy who is shaking a water bottle on your windshield to try to clean it for a few pesos. When you sit with a broken husband who can't provide for his family. Poverty separates mothers from their children. Poverty sends husbands away from their homes in search of a meager income. Poverty breaks children and adults alike. Why? Because all humans are designed to use their lives, talents, skills, and relationships to glorify God. Broken, impoverished people can't glorify God with their lives and work, whether physically rich or poor. That is the message of the gospel.
Glad tidings of Hope: Jesus Christ came to earth and perfectly glorified God in every aspect of His life. He purchased the right to replace death with life, spiritual poverty with spiritual wealth, and brokenness with healing. Jesus Christ purchased the right to forgive Al for his sins. With His life, Jesus purchased the right to mediate Al's prayers so that God will hear and answer his prayers. Jesus Christ purchased the right to credit to Al's account His own perfect record of glorifying God in His life, work, and relationships. Jesus Christ purchased the right to begin healing Al inside, so that Al can begin to live a life that reflects the characteristics of His Creator: Love, Joy, Justice, Peace, Faithfulness. That's the hope of the gospel. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus Christ.
"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them." Isaiah 9:2
Evangelism and discipleship are the answer. It is through evangelism that Al can hear the good news. It is through discipleship that Al can learn how to build a life that brings glory to God in his family, life, and work.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely Iam with you always, to the very end of the age.”