Twenty years ago, I was far from a fully devoted follower of Christ. In fact, I imagine many who encountered me back then thought I was a hopeless cause. God began reaching out to me at age four (or five) through a precious Good News Bible club leader named Dorothy. He followed me through my childhood years, placing loving Christians in my path each day. But the results weren’t seen for over a decade. In fact, for a while, it appeared I was slipping in the opposite direction. (Listen to my chat with Lisa Buffaloe, host of Living Joyfully Free Radio.)
Consider where I might be now if God had given up on me. Or if any one of those patient, initiating, gentle, and loving Christians had said, “Oh, she’s not worth my time. She’ll never change.”
As you read Tanya’s story, I hope you’ll pause to consider:
1. All we see is the outside. Most often, deep, deep pain lies buried beneath a walled heart. Pain that won’t heal with a quick “Jesus loves you.” It could take decades of sacrificial love before the wounded truly understand what love is and trust it for what is it. We also can’t see what God’s doing in another’s life. As I said, had you known me at 17, I believe many would have deemed me a lost cause. But God was working, loving, healing, in His way and His time.
2. Love is patient. I love Senior Editor of Christ to the World Ministries, Dr. Art Criscoe’s quote: “In our Western culture conditioned by television programs where everything is ‘wrapped up in a package’ and resolved in thirty minutes, we are not accustomed to waiting. We have forgotten that it took William Carey seven years in India to win the first convert to Christ, and it took Adoniram Judson six years to win the first convert in Burma.”
When the homeless say, “No,” by Tanya Eavenson
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
The Bible clearly states in James, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” But what happens when the poor aren’t responsive to your help?
I’ve recently been faced with situations like this. How do you share the love of Christ with a man who’d rather live in the woods and give his every last cent to his addiction? Or the woman who would rather sell herself to prostitution instead of receiving help to start over?
Do I give up?
I’ve always held a deep desire to help those less fortunate, to provide for their needs. My job provides the opportunity to do just that as I portion out government checks and manage funds. In my work, I search out housing, buy groceries, or find avenues to help people with their financial needs, but I’m also able to provide for their spiritual needs like giving out Bibles. I love being able to spend time in prayer with someone who has cancer or another whose mother has told her she could never come home. But there are times when people won’t accept my help. They would rather shiver on the streets, sell themselves, or live in jail and pass up living arrangements it took me two weeks to arrange.
More than once my emotions have gotten to me and I’ve cried at my desk. One particular day, I asked, “Why can’t they accept my help? Why do they turn away from Your mercy? Are they not listening?”
An example from Jesus own life came to mind. Scripture records He left Nazareth because “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.”
I rose and wiped my face. An image ran through my thoughts. A picture of a man. He was beaten and bruised, skin torn, almost unrecognizable. He wore a crown of thorns, carrying His cross down the Via Dolorosa willingly to suffer and die for my transgressions. Not only mine—everyone I meet.
Jesus was 33 years old when He cried out “It is finished.” Was there still more work to do in telling people about the Father? More mouths to feed? More people to help? Of course. However, Jesus had done everything His Father asked and not everyone believed or turned from their life styles. So how much more should I obey the Father in helping the needy, the poor, or the lost? I should never give up, but press on in perseverance to what God has called for me to do no matter the circumstances or rejection I face. I need to be as obedient as Jesus was taking up His cross.
Jesus is the example.
Has there ever been a time in your life when someone rejected your help? If so, were you able to help after all or did you walk away and leave it in the Lords hands? Jesus promises we are never alone and He will help us to never give up.
Or maybe you’ve been on the other end. Has someone reached out, consistently and patiently to you? What barriers did their love help to break down? Tell us about it.
Tanya Eavenson grew up in a non-Christian home, catching a bus to attend church as a child. She accepted Christ at a young age after walking down the reddest carpet she’d ever seen. At sixteen, she received her first Bible for Christmas. Never in her wildest dreams did she think God would use her to reach others for Him. But that is exactly what she’s been doing since God called her and her husband into the ministry. Tanya is also writer for Christ to the World Ministries, has written for Novel Editions Reviews, Reflections In Hindsight, and The Bookshelf Newsletter. She is a member of ACFW and was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Genesis contest.
Visit Tanya online:
Thanks to July’s Reach Out Donors: Elaine Marie Cooper with the Road to Deer Run and the Promise of Deer Run, Sandra Robbins with Shattered Identity, Katie Ganshert with Wildflowers From Winter, JoAnn Durgin with Awakening, and Ann Lee Miller with Kicking Eternity.
Do you have a Reach Out story to share? Send it to me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.
Authors, agents, and publishers, if you or one of your authors/clients would like to donate a book to one of the Reach Out gift baskets, shoot me an email at the above address.