Compassion and the Gospel

Less than four years ago, a Mission10:14 ministry team was in the village of Dalton* to share the good news and disciple believers. The team was made up of two volunteers from the States and three others from the host country. During that village stay, the team engaged people with the gospel of Jesus Christ in their courtyards while sitting under towering mango trees, as well as while visiting among men in the market place. All of the team’s efforts were aimed at bringing the gospel message of salvation in Christ to those who hadn’t yet heard.

One night while in Dalton, the team had the opportunity to show the Jesus film. Such carefully chosen films provide an opportunity to share the gospel with a larger group of people, compared to the more common setting of sharing individually and in smaller gatherings. While setting up for the film, one of the team members encountered Stewart*, a small boy who had fallen into hot simmering food 16 days earlier, leaving him with severe leg burns. Stewart had developed an infection, was no longer eating, and could not stand or walk. Immediately, the entire team was made aware of the situation and they developed a plan, in conjunction with the family, to help Stewart. The closest hospital being two hours away, Stewart’s parents agreed to the team members assisting in getting their son to much-needed care. Once at the hospital, the team covered the medical expenses for the little boy’s three-day stay, and ministry partners assisted in follow-up medical care over the next few months as well.

At the time of the accident, Stewart’s mother was a believer, having come to faith in Jesus a when a previous ministry team was visiting and sharing the gospel in her village. Not only was Stewart’s father, Saul,* an unbeliever, but he was known to be among a group of men in Dalton who were persecutors of  God’s people – including his wife. Following the team’s ministry of compassion to Stewart’s family, one villager said, “The whole village is talking about how Christian people have cared for the needs of Muslims.” There is truth in that statement, for Christians are called to demonstrate compassion while bringing the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to bear on one’s spiritual need.

Praise God that Stewart* is now a happy and playful young boy, moving freely with no side effects from his horrendous injuries! The accident was almost four years ago, but within the last year a M10:14 team member visiting Dalton had the opportunity to spend time with Saul. As they talked, Stewart’s father shared how grateful he still is for all that was done for his family. Reflecting on the time of his son’s accident and illness, he related, “For 16 days no one offered help to me and my family. We did not have the means to get medical treatment for our son. But when you [the group of Christians] saw our need, you did not hesitate to act. Now, I will never again say anything bad about Christian people.”

This exchange opened the door for the team member to share the gospel with Saul, explaining that there is healing and forgiveness of sin by grace through faith in Jesus. Although he is still yet to become a follower of Christ, Saul listened that morning to the good news, and has much to consider as God continues to give opportunity for the gospel to be declared in Dalton.

* Village & individual names changed for security purposes