Tag Archives: Incarcerated

Be The Church

In 1995, I had the pleasure of traveling to India. It was a dream come true for me. I had this romantic view of India, until I stepped off the plane and faced the reality of what real poverty looked like.

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When I arrived, I went from being ecstatic, to sad, to depressed in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was such a disparity between the poverty and opulence I saw. What especially broke my heart was seeing the children, dirty and living in shacks made out of garbage.

I stood there dumbfounded. I whispered under my breath, why God? Why must these children be so poor? They didn’t ask to be born into hunger and pain. Why such a cruel fate? My heart was faint.

I was despondent for the rest of my stay there. I walked around like a zombie, going through motions. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I saw poverty, hunger and suffering.

In India, I learned that no amount of religion or theology could reach the heart of the poor and hungry. The country is filled with people who believe in religion and worship a multitude of gods. Religion is part of their spiritual infrastructure.

But religion doesn’t give life, and it certainly isn’t the answer. Do you know what the answer is?

Love.

But not the sappy, sugar coated nonsense being propagated from the pulpits across America today. No.

Do you realize we are the Church? It’s about demonstrating love to those you wouldn’t necessarily show it to.

It’s about getting out of our comfort zone and doing things we wouldn’t normally do or going places we wouldn’t normally go.

I don’t refer to myself as a Christian anymore, because saying I’m a Christian holds a different connotation to whomever you are speaking to. Some people call themselves a Christian, but they are “religious”. They tithe and go to church regularly. But they never stop and love others.

How many Christians are bringing the church to the outcasts and rejected of society? The porn stars, strippers, murderers, gang bangers, drug addicts, drug dealers or satanists?

What Christian steps out of their safety net to be the church to those who are hated, rejected or despised? The poor, the suffering, and the sick? Those who are shunned, isolated and ignored by people.

I personally know Christians who don’t want to associate with those who have problems, who are depressed and walk around with dark clouds over their heads. They are afraid it might rub off on them.

But if we are the Church, we shouldn’t shun or avoid those who are suffering or struggling. How will they ever know that hope and love exists?

The true love that Jesus exemplified and demonstrated when He walked on this earth.

Folks, it’s much deeper than religion or religious acts that appease our own conscience. We must be willing to be the church and bring the love and compassion of Jesus to those who are broken, rejected and despised. If we don’t, who will?

In James 1:27, it says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (KJV)

In Hebrews 13:3, it says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (NLT)

This is not to boast, but even with my limited time between home, work, college, and writing, I’ve decided to use the gift God has blessed me with and write to those who are in prison. I also try to minister to families who have loved ones who are incarcerated. Families do the time along with their loved ones. It’s heartbreaking.

I’m not saying you need to do what I’m doing. All I’m saying is to be the church in whatever capacity God is calling you.

It’s no longer enough to preach or try to bring people to your Church. It’s time to be the hands and feet, and be the Church to the lost, the hopeless, the poor, the rejected, the shunned, the outcast, the incarcerated, the abused, and the sick.

Have you felt a burden to serve in your community, your neighbor or co-worker, but have been afraid to do so? Why not step out of your comfort zone and reach out? Why not take a step toward making a difference in someone else’s life? If we all do our part, we can bring hope to those who really need it.

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