Being in the ministry, it is always so encouraging to be able to see when your efforts bring about positive change in the people you are working with. However, the reality of it is that it is more often day after day without notable improvement in many cases. Rey is the one who is "out on the streets" on the daily basis, so he is the one that feels this more regularly. The thing that always impresses me is I've never heard him dragging his feet to go out or complaining about people's less the friendly reception.
The other day, Rey asked me if I could get a small bag of groceries together for a family they had met in the community they were going to that day. The woman's husband committed suicide about 3 wks ago, and left her to tend to their 5 children as best she could. As I was getting the bag together, I asked him whatever happend to "the old man". The old man was a man in his late 70's they had met in another community that seemed to be left to fend for himself out on the edge of town. For several weeks, the team had been taking some groceries and prayers out to him--even though the man was practically deaf and it couldn't be too readily seen how much he was taken in. Rey said, "Oh, we haven't been able to find him these last couple visits." This got me thinking about how often we extend our hand to people and then it seems that we never know if what we did had some kind of impact. I found myself wondering if the bag I was preparing for the family would have any kind of visible results. If it would touch them as we hoped it would.
That is when the idea of "obedience vs results" came into my mind. You see, I am more often the one to analyze: "Was that a waste of time? The person didn't seem affected..." Or, I become offended and less eager to reach out to a needy person the next time around.
"To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15)
"But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices
God is well-pleased." (Hebrews 13)
We all know God's multiple promises of blessing to those who "extend their hand to the poor and needy". What I need to remember, is God doesn't ever speak of "results"! And, that my desire for results as practically always linked to my desire for praise (aka: my pride)--not a true desire for that person to find his hope and life in Jesus.
Can I share some acts of obedience Rey has demonstrated that have born "no results"--but I am sure have stored him away treasure in heaven, while speaking to me?
- He found an old, crippled woman in the streets and helped her get back to her house. She was very obviously supersticious and closed to the Gospel, but upon arriving at her house, Rey felt that God told him to wash her feet. He asked if he could, and she gave him permission to. He did so, prayed over her--and hasn't seen her since.
- Last week, we were enjoying the evening at a downtown plaza, when a man with no legs appeared. He was sitting on a crude, home-made cart (basically a piece of plywood over 4 wheels) that he pushed along with his hands. We were eating guayabas, so Rey took about four of them over to him. The man got very annoyed and refused to take them.
- Almost every stoplight here in town has people (from scruffy kids to adults) asking for money. They have gotta be happy when they see Rey coming, because he always finds some kind of change in his pocket to give them--usually along with a Gospel tract.
And so it goes. Rey is an example of constantly finding love for the unlovely, and the humility to extend himself in ministry--even after rebuttal. I love my man!!