As we prepare to fly to Brazil on 8th August, we begin to feel the reality and magnitude of our decision to go. Many people have asked us why? Why are we going? Many Brazilians struggle to understand why we are going “home” when the country is steeped in a deep crisis and many Brazilians are trying to leave.
The answer to these questions are perhaps found in the following passage from Matthew:
‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness […] these twelve Jesus sent out […]’ (Matthew 9:35 – 10:1,5a – NIV)
There are four things in this passage that jump out. The first is that Jesus saw the crowds. Jesus did not only look, but he saw beyond what met the eyes. Sometimes we look but we are not seeing. When we visited Goiania in 2015, God allowed us to see the people living on the streets. A calling first emerges when we see a need that needs to be met. Jesus saw the crowds, and in the same way we are called to see those around us who need God’s love.
The second thing is that Jesus feels. He has compassion on the crowds. Likewise, when we see the way God sees, God will give us a heart for the people we encounter. This is essential in mission, without an emotional response to human need mission is rarely possible. We need to see but we also need to feel what God feels for those he places around us. God has given us a heart for the people living on the streets of Goiania.
The third thing is: Jesus asks his disciples to pray. When we meet people in a helpless situation we can often feel powerless. Any of our efforts could seem to be nothing more than just a drop in the ocean. That is why Jesus asks us to pray, as a way of recognising that only God can really change lives and helpless situations. Only God can give us the strategy and show us the way forward. When we see and feel, instead of reacting from a place of emotion we are called to pray for God’s way. In our experience, we prayed that God would send others to help the helpless in Goiania, but we were the answer to our prayers.
The fourth thing is that Jesus does not stop at just seeing, feeling and praying. Whilst these are important, when we realise that God can change lives, it demands that we act. Prayer, good wishes and knowledge about a problem, if not coupled with action will never bring change. We often stop at the praying stage… but Jesus’ response is to send people like you and I to meet the need of the helpless. And this is why we are going!
We are going because we saw, we felt, we prayed and these things demanded action. You may not be called to go to a distant country to share the love of God. Maybe God has given you eyes to see, a heart to feel, and knees to pray and a will to act to show love to people at work, in your community, or in your own family. His desire is that we go to those we see who need his love. So we must go!