After spending a day working at the widow’s home in Kenya, we noticed that she did not have much of a bed to sleep on. I wonder how long she had been sleeping on a worn-out mat with no frame…
Sometimes making a difference in someone’s life comes down to four simple steps:
First, put yourself in a position to be exposed to the needs of others. You see this pretty clearly in the life of Jesus. Here is one example.
…Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.Matthew 9:35, ESV
We are prone to simply staying in our comfort zones, and we seldom put ourselves in a position to actually notice the needs of others.
This is a crazy thought, but I believe following Jesus actually requires following Jesus. It requires going where He went and doing what He did. If we want to make a difference in someone’s life, like Jesus did while He walked the earth, we will have to put ourselves in a position to actually be exposed to the needs of others.
Second, take time to notice the needs around you.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.Matthew 9:36, ESV
Jesus noticed the crowds. He saw their needs, and He had compassion for them. He didn’t blame them for being in the situation that they were in, He simply felt compassion for them.
Once you notice the needs of those around you, pray about the needs that you see, and invite others to join you in that prayer. Jesus was not content to simply get out of His comfort zone and notice people, He wanted to see some real, tangible action. He wanted to see some change.
Of course, the kind of change that we really want to see—the kind of change that really matters—often requires strength beyond ourselves. So we pray. We appeal to our heavenly Father on behalf of the people we see and have compassion for. After all, He loves them even more than we do (far more, actually).
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”Matthew 9:37–38, ESV
Finally, after putting yourself in a position to be exposed to the needs of others, after taking time to notice the needs around you, and after praying about the needs that you see, look for practical ways to meet the needs yourself.
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.Matthew 10:1, ESV
The chapter break between Matthew 9 and Matthew 10 was not in the original text. There is no real separation.
Jesus sent the twelve Apostles out “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” in the beginning of Matthew 10 as a direct response to the compassion that He felt at the end of Matthew 9.
He sent them out to practically meet the needs of those who were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”.
Many times, when we go to the Father in prayer on behalf of those around us, we will realize that He allowed us to see that need so that we could be a part of meeting that need.
After spending a day working at the widow’s home in Kenya, we noticed that she did not have much of a bed to sleep on. We prayed about it, and decided to pitch in on purchasing a new bed and bed frame.
She seemed to be pretty excited about it!