We Love Everybody and You’re Next!
Dear Friend & Supporter,
Thank God, the winter months must soon relinquish their seasonal claim upon us. Despite a nor’easter on the first day of Spring and an encore, sibling performance on the day after, the threats that have followed are simply winter’s last gasps. Still, those who expected a warm up for their Easter, Resurrection Day, or Passover celebration were sorely disappointed. Old man winter lingers and even after he leaves he will next year return to renew his onslaught at his usual propitious time.
Winter is much like sin, or sin like winter, in that both are heralds of death, stealing the light of life and making life difficult to prosper. They ravage all that they can, sometimes covering the evidence of their destruction with a fresh coat of snow, like a deceiving angel of light, temporarily hiding the mischief they leave in their wake. Those with no defense against such powers attempt to hide away in a type of hibernation until the relief of spring and the healing of summer break through with their deliverance. What joy for those not counted among those who succumb before the season of relief.
After thousands of years of contention many still fall to sin and seasonal attacks and the church is still called to the forefront of the battle. Nowhere is this warfare greater than amidst the community of the poorest of the poor attacking those we serve in heartbreaking regularity. It’s hard to see the most vulnerable in society taken advantage of by such overwhelming bullies. Many of our neighbors have learned to hide their wounds, but they have little choice but to carry on in their woundedness. More and more we see the ravages of abuses of all kinds; emotional, mental and physical violence; mental illness, addictions, sexual immorality, poor education, poor nutrition, abandonment, betrayal, rejection, racism, prejudice, anger, bitterness, slum lords, etc., etc., etc.,
How many wounds can one community carry. This community carries wounds throughout the body, soul, spirit, and heart. For those with eyes to see they are full of bruises, welts, burns, cuts, stabs, whippings; lashed with evil words, evil actions, burdens to heavy to bear: in need of the Blood, in need of the Cross, in need of confession, repentance, forgiveness and deliverance.
• Isaiah 1:5b-7 …The whole head is sick And the whole heart is faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even to the head There is nothing sound in it, Only bruises, welts and raw wounds, Not pressed out or bandaged, Nor softened with oil. 7 Your land is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire, Your fields—strangers are devouring them in your presence; It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers.
What good the new life of summer without first applying the deliverance of spring. When they come to us already born in affliction and subjected to wounds for many years, most of their wounds have only been superficially addressed, if at all. Even those who have accepted salvation are like Lazarus who though raised from the grave still carried the wounds of sin, the wounds of a lifetime which would one day bring him back to the grave. In his resurrection life, did winter not continue to seek him year after year, seeking all of him that was life? Was he not, in his sin sick state, still contagious to others, carrying yet the root of bitterness, having not yet obtained the fullness of God’s grace?
• Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
How many of us though resurrected to newness of life still carry winter in our being, the effects of many seasonal visits by the sins of family, community, state, and self. In our resurrected life we are called to share the good news, yet which one of our bitter wounds, born of a lifetime of bitter wounds, is yet not healed, and now become contagious, defiling even those we seek to rescue. The fact is that none of us are completely well yet. We wait for a day that is promised to all but not yet fulfilled in any. Until death is vanquished sins power remains and will return with the rage of winter.
• 1 Corinthians 15:53–55 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
For those who are called the poorest of the poor it is like winter more often than spring and summers are a faint whisper in the wind. Springtime remains a sought-after reprieve, the cavalry coming to the rescue in the nick of time, before winter can claim its final victory. To those who endure much and long, springtime exudes a faint but unmistakable fragrance of hope. Those who labor among the poor catch its aroma, the same that they have waited for in the winters of their soul. They seek the same relief for those who suffer extreme poverty in the midst of a land of plenty. We thank God that we can bring spring-like experiences into our neighbor’s lives, but we wouldn’t be able to do so without your help. The hope that we minister to others comes through your graciousness.
Paul had a special gratitude for the people who supported him in a very difficult mission field. He wrote a letter to them expressing his gratitude and had this to say concerning their kindness.
• Philippians 4:18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
Paul was using God’s description of the sacrifices that were burnt to Him by the Israelites for the forgiveness of their sin. They smelled so sweet to God that they reminded Him of His Son’s sacrifice and made Him overlook the terrible stench of sin enough for Him to forgive them. I like the translation that calls those sacrifices a sweet savor. They were in fact called sweet savor offerings. With such offerings they had gotten God’s attention and now the suffering that comes from sin could be covered and their winter experience overruled for the promises of spring.
We have felt that here at Jerusalem House Ministries, for ourselves and for others. So many times, in the years we have served this community, we feared that we had long since come to the end of our rope and then we received a gift of support from you. It’s always like the breath of spring, like the cavalry come to the rescue, the hope of a chance for life. You empower us to fight the ravages of someone’s winter, prayerfully enough to carry them through to summer’s promise of new life. There is no way we could rightly thank you for such a wonderful thing. I’m ashamed at times to even try after the despair I sometimes entertain as we wait. Please know that you have blessed us abundantly and given new hope to our beleaguered neighbors. Like Paul, we can smell the sweet savor of a spring-like sacrifice, an acceptable offering, well pleasing to God. Thank you so much and God bless you for bestowing such a gift.
Dan, Peaches & Michal
Your Local Missionaries
PO BOX 8569 202 N. 9TH STREET ALLENTOWN, PA. 18105 (610) 776-7794