On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley hit Port Charlotte, Florida. With winds of 150 mph, the storm cut a path through the central part of the state, causing over 13 billion dollars in damage and the deaths of at least nine people. About a week after the storm had passed, I remember hearing an update on the radio as I was driving to work. Amazingly, there were still survivors in need of basic necessities like water, shelter, clothing and hot food. When I arrived at work I went to a fellow Christian and shared what I had heard, and it became clear the Lord was calling us to go and help these afflicted people.
Immediately plans were made; an enclosed trailer was procured along with a vehicle to tow it with. Our foreman put the word out in the hanger that we would be gathering needed items and within days the trailer was loaded down with water, baby food, diapers, blankets and more. On a Friday afternoon we left Atlanta and drove to Port Charlotte to deliver the items. The people in the storm ravaged area were very grateful for the delivery, as they had been without many of the things we take for granted. We were in awe of the damage that had occurred; it worked out that we drove right into the hardest hit part of town to unload the trailer, so we witnessed up close the awful destruction the storm had left behind. As we drove back home we were so thankful for the simple, often ignored things the Lord had provided for our own families.
I look back now and try to consider how the Lord leads ordinary people to perform extraordinary ministry. How He causes us to see afflicted people, have compassion for them, then causes us to act on His behalf to bandage them up.
Do you consider yourself involved in extraordinary ministry? If you are wondering what this is, Jesus gives an excellent definition of it in Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer has posed a question for Jesus about obtaining eternal life. Jesus answers with a question as to what is written in the law and the lawyer answers correctly. The lawyer has an unwilling heart when he answers that he must love his neighbor as he loves himself, so he asks Jesus to define neighbor. In the process of pointing out the lawyer’s own deficiency, Jesus’ definition of neighbor tells us about an unlikely minister and gives an outline of how we are to be involved with those people God has placed around us.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him for dead” (Luke 10:30). The enemy, the flesh, and the world leave men in this forsaken estate. Do you know someone like this? They are close to you, and for good reason.
“And by chance a priest (and Levite) was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side of the road” (Vs. 31-32). Perhaps they were on their way to some spiritual meeting, and touching this man would have made them ceremonially unclean, even though that was not a legitimate excuse in this circumstance. Notice that they saw him. They were without excuse. James said, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (2:13). Be careful in your planning and carrying out of religious rituals, that you don’t bypass any half-dead travelers.
“But a Samaritan…” (Vs. 33). Jesus uses the most despised name in the Jewish community to make his point, and by contrast He surely offends those listeners who believed their righteous friends were their only true neighbors. Samaritans were descendants of Jewish mixed marriages from the days of the captivity, so the Jews were taught to hate them. Their worship was a mix of Judaism and paganism and they even had their own temple. They were so despised that many Jewish travelers would not even journey through Samaria. So the most unlikely of men, a Samaritan, came to the aid of this beaten traveler.
“And when he saw him, he felt compassion” (Vs. 33). This man not only saw him, but had compassion for him. Beloved, this is the beginning of extraordinary ministry! Do you have compassion for those around you? Compassion means to be deeply moved with love and pity for someone.
“And he came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put them on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you” (Vs.34-35). The Samaritan uses two days wages, oil and wine, and his own time to take care of the wounded traveler. Be aware that this sort of ministry will cost something.
Recently, we secretly collected funds for a fellow mechanic whose wife was suffering from cancer. He was taking care of the kids in addition to his regular job, and we noticed, although he never complained, he was starting to succumb to the pressures of all the bitter circumstances going on in his life. We raised enough money for him to get a baby sitter and take his wife out on a date. To present this to him, all the mechanics, leads and foreman gathered in the office. I can tell you that it was wonderful watching these grown men cry as we handed the gift card to him and let him know we loved him and cared for him. This is just one example to show you how simple extraordinary ministry can be.
Did you notice in the Samaritan account there was no verbal communication between the two men? It’s probable the wounded man was beaten unconscious, and was totally unaware of how he was helped. Let’s engage in some sanctified speculation for a moment. Let’s say the wounded man heals from his wounds and is enlightened by the innkeeper as to the details of his plight. He is given a description of the Samaritan who saved his life, and is told of how close he was to death and how this hated and despised individual came to his aid after he was ignored by two of the nation’s most distinguished religious leaders. Let’s say he then continues on his journey and comes upon the Samaritan and recognizes him as the one who saved his life. Do you think there will be conversation now? I certainly do! I believe the traveler would want to know much about the man and his motivation. Possibly the Samaritan would be able to share why he took care of the man. We must always remember that one purpose of our actions is to ultimately point people to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ. We may not be able to share with them at first, and it may take some time for the opportunity to arise, but we must be committed to sharing it when it does.
Now Jesus has a question for the lawyer, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers’ hands?” (Vs. 36) And then he gave the obvious response: “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus had made this particular application so clear even a testy, self-justified lawyer couldn’t mess it up.
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same” (Vs. 37). Or, “Go and show mercy.” We know that mercy is kindness toward the miserable and afflicted.
So in essence Jesus says extraordinary ministry is this: “Go and give care and attention to those who have been stripped by the enemy, beaten by the world, and left for dead by sin. Pour the oil of prayer over them, speak the wine of My Word to them, and bring them to the inn of forgiveness so that my people may take care of them.”
Are you willing to answer the call to this ministry? I pray you will, for you will forever be changed as you engage in it, and God will forever receive glory because of it.
(This article was written by Tim Files, Delta mechanic and FCAP Board member.)