Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Power of Christlike Compassion

From the article The Compassion of Jesus by Radio Bible Class:
[T]he best way to appreciate how the example of our Lord’s compassion has impacted history is to consider the lives of individuals who have served as conduits of His caring love. They have been salt in the otherwise tasteless dough of civilization. They have been light in the gross darkness of depraved culture. They have been voices pleading for mercy and kindness wherever there have been eruptions of barbarism, even in advanced nations. Here are just two illustrations of Christlike compassion.

Jackie Polinger, who was born and reared in Great Britain, was a musician by vocation and a Christian by conviction. From the age of 5 she felt that God was directing her into missionary service. But where and under what agency? She consulted her pastor who advised her to start out in faith and let God providentially lead. Jackie followed his advice and eventually found
herself in Hong Kong.

All alone, she began a compassionate work of witness in the notorious Walled City, where more than 50,000 people were crowded into a mere 61⁄2 acres. It was a refuge for criminals of every kind— thieves, drug dealers, murderers, and prostitutes. Its streets were lined with heroin dens and opium dives, to say nothing of the pornographic theaters. The Walled City was a rat- infested horror of filth, ruled by ruthless gangs. Every morning the bodies of pathetic wretches who had overdosed and died during the night were simply dragged outside its walls and left unburied.

Jackie was only 20 years old, untrained and unprotected, when she moved into that nightmare and started as a conduit of Christ’s compassion to share the good news of His forgiveness and love. She met with violent hostility. Windows and furniture were smashed in the Youth Club she opened, and it was smeared with excrement by the followers of a drug lord. But he was so impressed by Jackie and her message of God’s forgiveness that he ordered his guilty gang members to go and apologize to her. They did and, true to her message, Jackie forgave them.

Slowly a change took place through Jackie’s unfaltering compassion, dauntless bravery, and Christ-centered preaching. Hundreds of men and women—drug-enslaved, vice- fettered, lifelong addicts and drunkards—were liberated.

Jackie’s compassion was not an impotent sentimentalism. Motivated by Calvary, her ministry was dynamic and transforming. Indeed it was the very power of God unto salvation. Jesus through Jackie continued His work of compassion.

Mary Reed, born in Ohio in 1858, was another conduit of Christlike compassion. Hearing about the plight of lepers in India, she decided to do what she could to alleviate their distressful lot and share with them the good news of God’s love. How apparently futile it was for one Christian woman to expect that she could bring about any significant change in the lives of such sorely afflicted people in an alien society.

Resolutely and prayerfully, Mary volunteered for service in India. The city of Cawnpore with its overwhelming needs was the site of her ministry. Conditions were indescribably difficult. Little wonder, then, that after 8 years of compassionate labor, she suffered a physical breakdown. So she returned home to recuperate. But did she stay home? Did she abandon the impossible task of making a really helpful impact on so desperate a situation?

No, instead of yielding to any temptation like that, Mary returned and went to Pithoraterth in the Himalayas. On one journey she came across a tragic group of 500 lepers, subsisting by themselves, with no human agency concerned about their misery. Burdened for their piteous helplessness, Mary could not forget those neglected sufferers.

After another year of intense ministry, she collapsed and was sent back to her American home. Doctors were perplexed by her illness. What caused the tingling pain in her forefinger and that spot on her face? Mary knew before she had received a definitive diagnosis. She had contracted leprosy. Yet, rather than being horrified, she thanked God for a disease that ordinarily would have aroused reactions of dread and self-pity. She saw it as God’s gift, an answer to her pleas that somehow she might be permitted to work among those lepers in the Himalayas.

Only her doctors and a sister knew the truth about her condition. When she left for India, she insisted that there be no sad farewell, though she realized she might never see her much- loved family again. Back in India, Mary went to that leper settlement where no missionary had gone before. “I have been called by God to come and help you,” she told the astonished sufferers. And there she remained as God’s agent of Christlike compassion. The difficulties were indeed enormous, yet gradually in Chanbag under Mary’s sacrificial leadership a new order of things developed. Even a hospital was built providing healing, help, and hope to once utterly hopeless outcasts. For 53 years she lived and served at Chanbag, dying there in 1943.

These two servants of the Lord Jesus are representative of a great host of His disciples, the majority of them unknown and unapplauded. But their names are known in heaven, and they have received the only commendation they desired and deserved, their Lord’s word of approval, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”

If we have named Jesus as our Redeemer and Master, we are challenged to follow in Jackie’s and Mary’s footsteps, as they followed in the footsteps of Him who was compassion incarnate. As recipients of saving grace, we have the privilege of letting the costly love of Calvary flow through our lives and out into the needy world. Only as we do so can some of humanity’s need be met.
Hope and pray this inspires you too to ask God to help you grow in compassion for a world that is lost, hurting and dying in pain... and to send YOU. I've already asked God to send me... hope we can see each other there at the finish line, by God's grace, and hear His wonderful words: "Well done, good and faithful servants!"

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