The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners. Is 61:1
This week, we have been looking at issues around social justice and taking care of the poor and needy. Embedded in these verses are the whole point of ministry – to preach good news, to release those bound up in darkness. We can feed the hungry all we want, clothe the naked and provide shelter for the wanderer, but unless they receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ, all else is futile.
Obviously it doesn’t mean that you have to mention the name Jesus every time you give someone a piece of bread, but it does mean that you need to be aware of the overall mission and how your social justice efforts fit into that. Also, there will be times when over and above purely practical help you can play a part towards the discipleship or spiritual growth of a particular individual or group, whether by sharing about Jesus, providing Bibles & reading material, planting a church in a poor community, praying for the sick, and the list goes on. Remember, ultimately, our mandate is to get people out of darkness and into the light of Jesus and then to teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
My dear friend Graham Giles is one of the finest examples I know of preaching good news to the poor. Here he leads members of Mazwi Village St Peters and of his congregation in prayer as they plant maize and trust God for a bumper harvest. A couple of days he said to me, “we have no water at all, just the rain, do it Lord!” You are the finest of examples Papa G & Mama Sarah!