By Aaren Rutan, Client Services Director for Loving Arms
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of like an island when I look at the world around me. It seems that when I turn on the news the tide of public opinion is completely against everything I hold dear. We wouldn’t be involved in the pregnancy help movement if we weren’t keenly aware of the attack on life that has been waged in our country since 1973. And, we can’t turn on the television without hearing the ongoing debate about contraception, comprehensive sex education, marriage, and the list goes on. . .
When you are tempted to dwell on the discouragement that sometimes creeps in, remember that Jesus went against the tide from His very birth until His death on the cross. Consider His birth—we can be quite confident that it was not commonplace for kings to be welcomed to the world by farm animals and shepherds. Remember the story of how His parents, likely frantic from searching for Him, found Him in the temple teaching those who should have been teaching Him. Or, do you recall those He chose to join Him in His ministry? Among His chosen twelve were tax collectors and fishermen—not likely considered to be among the spiritually elite. I love the story of the “wee little man” (you know the song) whom Jesus called down from the tree. Can you imagine what Zacchaeus must have thought when Jesus said He was going to his house that day?
The religious leaders were horrified when Jesus allowed the woman to wash His feet. And, when He healed the sick on the Sabbath they accused Him of being a blasphemer.
Even the way He died went against the tide of human nature. He gave His life so that we might have life eternal. And, He is only one of two who rose from the dead; and, unlike Lazarus, He never felt death again!
But, the one story about Jesus that really speaks to me when I consider the context of our ministry is the story of the woman at the well. This is another perfect example of how Jesus broke the barriers of cultural stereotypes of His time. “Sam” (I recently read a study that referred to her as “Sam” since she was a Samaritan) was shocked when Jesus asked her for a drink of water–understandably so considering the fact that she was a woman AND a Samaritan. Add to that the fact that she was living in a sinful relationship with a man who was not her husband and was, therefore, most likely looked down upon by many in her community.
“Sam” wasn’t used to Jewish men striking up conversations with her. But, Jesus went against the tide of society by not only acknowledging her by speaking directly to her, but also by reaching out to her and meeting her deep need for the water that would quench her spiritual thirst forever.
Isn’t that what we do in the pregnancy help movement? How many people have come through these doors to experience love, grace, and a non-judgmental response regardless of the circumstances that brought her/him through our doors? Many of our clients hear a message that is the complete opposite of what they have been exposed to throughout their entire lives. They’ve been conditioned to believe that they aren’t special enough to wait for. They’ve believed the lie that God isn’t real and He doesn’t care about them. They are members of an entire generation that has been told that the lives of unborn children have no value because they can’t be seen. We tell them that God does in fact love them, that He does have a plan for their good, that He is real and that they can trust Him, and that He values every life—both born and unborn. Jesus ministered to “Sam” in much the same way—by showing her that she was valuable in His eyes.
The next time you hear the news and feel that you are swimming against the tide of our society, rest assured that you are—and you are not alone. Jesus is swimming with you.
Book review by Debbie Schirtzinger, Heartbeat International Affiliation Coordinator
“What does true encouragement look like – the kind that changes lives forever? To encourage people is to help them gain courage they might not otherwise possess – courage to face the day, to do what’s right, to take risks, and/or to make a difference. And the heart of encouragement is to communicate a person’s value. When we help people feel valuable, capable, and motivated we sometimes see their lives change forever – and then see them go on to change the world.
“God’s love for us gives us the reason to encourage others.God’s love in us gives us the ability to encourage others.God’s love through us gives us the way to encourage others.”
Encouragement is an essential part of growing a positive attitude and improving life; and providing that encouragement benefits both the giver and the receiver(s). This book is packed with timeless quotes, scriptures, and short but meaningful stories that illustrate the value of offering and receiving encouragement. Author John Maxwell shares ways to effectively provide the kind of encouragement that transforms individuals, families, churches, and work teams into happier, healthier, more affirming networks.
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