Tag Archives: Compassion

Serve or Die

Dr. Paul Brand told me of his most memorable visitor to Vellore, India, where he directed a leprosy hospital. One day a French friar named Pierre showed up. Over the next few weeks he stayed with the Brands and told them his life’s story. Born into a noble family, he had served in the French Parliament until he became disillusioned with the slow pace of political change. After World War II, thousands of homeless beggars lived in the streets. Pierre could not tolerate the endless debates by noblemen and politicians while so many street people starved outside.

Philip YanceyDuring an unusually harsh winter, many of the Parisian beggars froze to death. Pierre resigned his post and became a Catholic friar to work among them. He concluded his only recourse was to organize the beggars themselves. He taught them to do menial tasks better. They divided into teams to scour the city for bottles and rags. Next, he led them to build a warehouse from discarded bricks and then start a business in which they sorted and processed vast quantities of used bottles from hotels and businesses. Finally, Pierre inspired each beggar by giving him responsibility to help another beggar poorer than himself. The project caught fire, and in a few years an organization called Emmaus was founded.

But now the organization was facing a point of crisis. After years of this work, there were no beggars left in Paris. “I must find somebody for my beggars to help!” he declared. “If I don’t find people worse off than my beggars, this movement could turn inward. They’ll become a powerful, rich organization, and the whole spiritual impact will be lost. They’ll have no one to serve.”

At a leprosy colony in India, five thousand miles away, Abbé Pierre found at last the solution. He met hundreds of leprosy patients, many from the Untouchable caste, worse off in every way than his former beggars. As he met them, his face would break into a huge grin. Returning to his beggars in France, he mobilized them to build a ward at the hospital in Vellore. “No, no, it is you who have saved us,” he told the grateful recipients of his gift in India. “We must serve or we die.”
~ Philip Yancey in Reaching for the Invisible God (239 – 40)

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Compassion, influence with the world, Loving others, Philip Yancey, Serving

Mourning turned to dancing… in the aisle!

Max is the twenty-three-year-old autistic grandson of Chuck Colson, founder of BreakPoint Ministries. The following account is first maddening and then pure delight.

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A few months ago Max’s mother, Emily, and Patty Colson took Max to see “Muppets Most Wanted” at a Boston-area theater. After settling themselves into their seats, the previews began. And that’s when things went south.

The MuppetsNormally, Max gets a bit excited at the beginning of a film, and then he calms down. But life with autism is unpredictable, as Emily wrote on a special needs parenting site. When the first preview exploded loudly onto the screen, Max covered his ears and shrieked, “I want to go home!” Emily tried to calm him, but as soon as Kermit the Frog appeared on the screen, Max shouted “The Muppet movie!”

When the volume spiked again, Max shouted once more “I want to go home!” That’s when other movie-goers let Emily know in painful and no-uncertain terms that Max was not welcome.

As Emily and Patty escorted Max out, the audience began to applaud. “It was the sound of an angry mob chasing us away with their jeers and taunts,” Emily writes.

It’s hard to recover from experiences like that. But God used it to offer a mighty blessing, not only to Max and Emily, but to hundreds of other special needs children.

Not long after Emily wrote about unexpectedly becoming the entertainment at the theater, a woman named Renee came up to Emily after church. “Do you think Max would like it if we rented a theater?” she asked.

The following Sunday, Pastor Paul told the congregation what had happened to Max, and announced Renee’s great idea: “She rented out an entire theater so that friends of Max can watch the Muppet movie with Max.” Pastor Paul declared, “If you’re a friend of Max, you’re going to the movies, whether you like Muppets or not!”

“Everyone laughed. And everyone bought tickets,” Emily writes.

A local newspaper picked up the story. Hearing of the event, called “Love to the Max,” a limousine company owner offered to take Max and his friends to the theater in style in a 37-foot limousine. The employees fought over who was going to have the honor of driving Max. The winner? A man whose own grandson was autistic.

The CEO of a local Friendly’s Restaurant offered gift certificates for ice cream or meals. People volunteered to help out at the theater, doing everything from taking kids to the bathroom to bringing them popcorn.

So many people bought tickets that the Regal Cinema had to expand the event to two theaters. In the end, 500 children, with their families and friends, went to see “Muppets Most Wanted.”

This time, when the Muppets began singing their first number, “the music catapulted Max right out of his seat,” Emily recalls. He began dancing in the aisle. The audience began to applaud as Max danced his way down the aisle, “grabbing hands and pulling others into his dance.”

The children enjoyed the film, and as it ended with a final Muppet song, nobody wanted to leave. “Suddenly, people flooded into the aisles [and] began to dance. Everyone free. No armor. No barriers between us,” Emily writes. “I looked around and wondered if this is what Jesus envisioned when he said, “Love one another . . . The joy was contagious.”

As Chuck would have said, this was the Church being the Church. People came to love on these kids, “the least of these” and their families. And they were living out 1 Cor. 12, which reminds us that all parts of the body of Christ should be valued and honored.
~ By Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint Ministries

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Compassion, Dance, Friendship, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Kindness, Loving others, Serving

Joining God in His story

get_lost-featured1Genuine expressions of your love for Christ are often quite small, simple even.

  • Join the girl no one ever sits with at lunch.
  • Baby-sit for a single mom.
  • Take a meal to a sick family.
  • Rake the leaves in the yard of the grouchy old man next door.
  • Take a walk with the little girl down the street whose parents are never home.
  • Clean the house of a family in which the financially struggling parents are both working two jobs and never have time to catch up.
  • Sit on the street with a homeless person, and listen to her story.

Your opportunities to work alongside God will be revealed through your friendship with Him. He will invite you into His story in ways that uniquely fit you—but He may also lead you to do things that are not in your comfort zone.

~ Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh

How will we join God in His story today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, God, influence with the world, Loving God, Loving others, Serving

Reckless Abandon

What would you attempt if you knew you wouldn’t get hurt or injured?

  • Skydive from 10,000 feet
  • Race a sports car at 200 mph
  • Bungee jump off a bridge
  • Strap on a hang-glider and leap off a tall cliff
  • Step inside a metal cage and get lowered into shark infested water
  • Climb Mt Everest or Kilimanjaro
  • Walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls

Reckless_Abandon_470X270Would you attempt them if you knew you’d be safe?

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

When Jesus was arrested all of his disciples ran, after a brief sword incident involving Peter, because they were genuinely afraid for their lives.

According to historians there were at least 18 Messiah wannabe’s around the time of Jesus. The book of Acts tells us about two of them. One of those men is Judas the Galilean. (Acts 5:37) The historian Josephus tells us that this Judas of Galilee founded the Zealots – the group of Jews who believed in physical rebellion against the Romans. He and 2000 of his followers were crucified.

The crosses were all left standing in the Galilean countryside because the Romans wanted to send a message. Jesus grew up in Galilee as did some of his disciples. They would have seen those crosses. They knew what the Romans did to the followers of men claiming to be Messiah.

They had every right to be afraid for their lives. But when they discovered the empty tomb and were visited by the resurrected Jesus all of that changed.

Jesus killed death! There was nothing left to fear!

It’s one thing to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face death with confidence and peace. It’s a whole different matter to trust in Jesus’ resurrection so that we can face life with confidence and peace.

That’s what we see happening in the lives of the disciples and the early church. Because of their trust in Jesus’ resurrection, and defeat of death, they lived with a reckless abandon.

  • They sold their possessions to help those in need.
  • They openly shared about Jesus even when it brought persecution.
  • And they crossed cultural and social boundaries to do so.

Sociologist Rodney Stark argues that one of the primary reasons for the spread of Jesus’ movement was the way his followers responded to sick people.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius around AD 165, an epidemic of what may have been smallpox killed somewhere between a third and a fourth of the population, including Marcus Aurelius himself. A little less than a century later came a second epidemic, in which at its height five thousand people were reported dying daily in the city of Rome alone.

Historians tell us that the Greeks and Romans tossed their sick loved ones out into the street to die and avoided burying the dead all in an attempt to escape death. Historians also tell us that the followers of Jesus remembered what He taught about caring for the needs of others, even strangers, and they tended to the sick, even though it cost many of them their lives.

What if Jesus’ resurrection was meant to give us confidence not only to face death head on but to face life head on?

What would it look like to love and forgive and pray for and meet the needs of others, even our enemies?

What would it look like for us to live with such reckless abandon?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Courage, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Resurrection, Serving

Sportsmanship at its best!

This act of sportsmanship is both
amazing and inspiring.

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (The Message)

May we all live this way today!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Compassion, Inspiration, Kindness, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

The ugly truth of child slavery

It’s easy for numbers to seem cold and distant but they reflect real life for good and bad. In this case they reflect the harsh reality of child slavery. The trade of human life as property is the most lucrative criminal enterprise globally, including the United States, second only to drugs.

T. E. Hanna from “Of Dust And Kings” put together this infographic specifically to help combat that. The first step in battling any injustice is to raise our consciousness, to expose the evil, and finally to stand against it. With that in mind, please feel free to share this infographic in any venue you choose.

Child_Slavery_Figures_Opt

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Children, Compassion, Human Trafficking, influence with the world, Justice, Loving others

More Than Once a Year

Josh Wilson is one of my favorite musicians and I discovered this song just before Christmas. You might think I’m sharing it a bit late since Christmas was a couple of weeks ago but if you’ll listen to the message – wonderfully displayed in the video – you’ll understand why I waited to share it.

P.S. – This song also features Andrew Peterson, another of my favorite musicians!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Music, Compassion, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Serving