by Randy Bishop
New Hope Digital’s focus this month is Active Compassion: Caring for the Least, the Lost, and the People You Meet Every Day. In some ways, the components of the theme remind me of my own personal spiritual journey. Let me explain.
As I was finishing up my master’s degree at Wheaton College 10 years or so ago, I did a term paper on God’s care for the alien. I was actively involved with English-as-a-second-language ministry at the time, and I felt led to explore the topic in greater depth. I found care for the sojourner to be a recurring theme in the Old Testament, like here in Malachi 3:5 (NASB):
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.
And as in the above verse from the Book of Malachi, I often found the alien mentioned with the widow and the orphan. These were people who had no one to defend their cause, except the Lord. And the Lord wanted His people to take care of them for His honor. Caring for widows, orphans, and strangers was also a way of remembering that, before the Lord intervened, Israel, too, had been fatherless, husbandless, and stateless.
God is still concerned for the least of these—widows, orphans, immigrants—and also runaways and street children and sex workers. Anyone being exploited or at risk of exploitation.
God actively cares for the lost as well. The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son in Luke 15 speak so powerfully to His love and the fact He loved us before we loved Him (1 John 4:19). The touchstone here for me is the 3-plus years I spent with my wife, Kay, in East Asia, ministering to Chinese and Tibetans who, many times, had never heard of Jesus Christ. It is a blessed opportunity to share the love, power, and holiness of God with those in darkness, whether overseas or in our own community.
And that brings me to those people you and I meet every day (or at least fairly often). I now live in Birmingham, Alabama, and my ministry has changed. I minister through my editing and writing and through the small group I lead. No, I haven’t stopped trying to minister to the least and the lost, but I’m learning to let God open my eyes to the people around me on a regular basis. They need to see active compassion too.
I hope the New Hope Digital audience will benefit from and be encouraged by the articles/columns, podcasts, and videos we plan to provide this month. We’ll be highlighting Active Compassion by Gayla Parker; Orphanology by Tony Merida and Rick Morton; and A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias. I’m also looking forward to content from Kimberly Sowell and Jennifer Kennedy Dean, among others.
There are several items already on the site related to these topics as well. Here are a few to check out:
- “Ideas and Resources to Join the Fight Against Modern Slavery” (includes a list of New Hope Digital content)
- “Ron Ruthruff: Kids on the Street” (podcast)
- “Make an International Friend” (article by Donna S. Thomas).
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.