“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”
(1 Corinthians 16:13)
For over five years, my family and I prepared meals and brought them to the street people on Martha Avenue. Twice a month we fed over 100 people out of the back of our van. Routinely we were asked, “What church are you guys with?” Never were we asked which Hindu or Buddhist Temple we represented, or which Gurdwara or Mosque we were from. No one asked whether we were part of some government program either, or whether we represented some atheist group in Winnipeg. The street people know that it is the Christians who do the most to help them in their hour of need. This they do as an expression of love for their fellow human beings made in God’s image (James 3:9). They also do this out of obedience to the wise moral counsel and commands of God (Proverbs 19:17; 21:13) Their obedience, after all, is the truest and surest outward expression of their love for the God who loved them first (John 14:21; 1 John 4:19). Our downtown ministry involved a huge sacrifice of time, effort, and resources. It also entailed a very real element of danger. I remember a certain man named Kenny, whose hostility to us and our Gospel message bordered on violence. I remember him marching angrily through a parting crowd to confront me to my face. As it turned out, he had just been released from prison after doing a stretch for murder. At first he swore at me and blasphemed God. Rather than run or retaliate, I invited him to take a seat and I gave him the Gospel. I still marvel at the matchless power of God’s word (Isaiah 55:11). After a few minutes he was in tears. We prayed together and pleaded for God to forgive him and provide for his needs. Days later he called to tell me how the Lord had provided for him in miraculous ways. I will never forget his words. “It’s me, Kenny. Do you remember me? I’m the one who cried. You said God could help me. I believe you now.” To excel in anything takes commitment, sacrifice, and assuming certain risks. In the Christian life, this is especially true. God ordained that Kenny’s faith in Him would involve the exercise of Christian courage on the part of His evangelist. Of course we should avoid deliberately marching into dangerous situations for no good reason. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself;” declares the Scripture, “but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12). Nevertheless, nothing of positive significance is going to happen around here without the Christian’s faith being put to selfless practice. Ground will not be taken for the kingdom, enemies of the cross of Christ will not be subdued, until our love for God and man eclipses—in fact obliterates—our fears and apprehensions. May the Lord bless us today with the courage and strength necessary to accomplish all His will, for His glory and for the good of others.