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As followers of Christ we have opportunities all around us to share the love of Christ. For us in the tribe, it may look a lot different, but the principles are the same for all of us.
When we first moved in near the tribe, we were meeting people for the first time. We didn’t know their language and we had yet to form relationships. In order to establish relationships, we spent time with people while learning their language, and we asked them about their lives and their family members and their culture. As we did this, we saw ways of meeting what some people call felt needs or material and physical needs.
I remember visiting a young mom one afternoon. I heard that she was sick. As I ducked into a no more than 100-square-foot hut where she was with her three small children, I realized that her husband wasn’t there and I didn’t see any food anywhere, not a potato or cob of corn, nothing. After I made sure she was alright, I told her I would quickly go home and cook for her and return, and she began to cry. Now, my tribal friends don’t cry easily. They can cry on demand when they are mourning, but you don’t see weepy women on our mountain. In this case, it was a spontaneous reaction, which I know I could identify with being a mom of four children myself. I can’t take credit for thinking of cooking idea either. Miss Lucy is my mom and when there is a crisis, cooking is usually the answer, and she is really good at cooking. So I learned from her that cooking for someone when they are sick is comforting and a way to serve. That particular day, I found out that lesson was cross cultural. : )
Another time there was a little preemie born, and it seemed like the days after her birth all blurred together. The new mom, the mom-in-law, a friend, and I just nodded off around the fire, barely sleeping, making sure that when the sweet baby would stop breathing we could begin rubbing her chest until she would gasp and take a breath.
One other night, just as the sun was setting, several people came to our house to ask for help. A woman had difficulty in labor and more than likely the baby had died and yet hadn’t been delivered. The walk to their village was going to take a couple of hours, and it would mean crossing a deep gorge over a river on fallen trees in the dark. Mike gathered what he needed and left. We knew that there would not be much that Mike could do, but we wanted to show that we cared.
These are just a couple of stories that come to mind. Investing in people’s lives is how our team deepened relationships and shared the love of Christ. So meeting people’s physical, emotional and material needs is important. It is very biblical to help those in need. These are ways we get to know someone and earn their respect and have a chance to speak truth into their lives.
Although helping people with their physical needs is a good way to share the love of Christ, the most important way we can show the love of Christ with people is through the systematic and accurate teaching of the Word of God. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10). Our team has a three-part strategy in teaching the Word of God. The first part is through sets of printed lessons beginning in Genesis and continuing through the life of Christ, Acts, Romans, and Pauline epistles. They are available for the community as part of our literacy program. Each of these lessons is also available for audio listening on solar mp3 players. Mike and Tim have spent hours recording lessons so that our tribal friends can listen to the lessons over and over. Secondly, we are translating the New Testament into their language. Lastly, we are discipling others so that they can take our place. We have Bible teachers who are now teaching in the community and are involved in sharing their faith with others, taking what they have learned and sharing it with others who live in distant areas of their language group.
Just this past weekend we had a big feast, and one of our Bible teachers showed that he really understood these principles as he took the opportunity to speak to people who may not often come to church. He not only wanted to share a meal with those who had come but also took the opportunity to speak from the account of Noah, urging people not to turn away from sound teaching like the men and women did in Noah’s day. He reminded them of the swiftness of judgment and of how only those who entered the Ark were saved. He reminded them that even as there was one door to the Ark, there is one way to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said, “
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
So, in conclusion, the way we share the love of Christ is two-fold. We try to meet the physical needs of our friends along with meeting their spiritual needs.
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