He Will Reward Them
God deeply cares for everyone, and He desires for His children to care for everyone as well. Proverbs 19:17 tells us: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” To show kindness towards the poor is an act of obedience and love for God. In this proverb, King Solomon is sharing distinctions in the life of the obedient—caring for what God cares for, loving who God loves, and giving what God has already blessed them with.
When I think about lending or giving, there are two aspects that come to mind—the inward and the outward. One’s inward attitude must reflect a heart of compassion or kindness. Giving without a heart of compassion is obligation, not obedience. A person’s outward action is the physical act of giving according to the individual’s needs and one’s own ability. We cannot give what we do not have, and we should give what is essential.
God is calling us, as His children, to be kind and generous to the poor through faithful obedience in what we have to offer, and He will reward us for that. I know that, personally, I have found myself hesitant to be generous in giving to the poor. I experience uncertainty and fear of the unknown. Will I have enough? Will what I give be used wisely? Scripture reminds us to not lose heart in our giving because we know that God says He will reward those who are kind to the poor.
Beyond giving financially, what are some other ways we can be generous towards the poor?
- Look for local, practical opportunities. Search online for possible options and get plugged into serving the needy near you.
- Look through your closet and donate clothing items that are still in good shape to a local shelter.
- When the opportunity presents itself, take time to have a conversation. God created us as communal beings. We all experience a yearning for connection.
- Be teachable and open to learning about the needy and how to help. Then, inform others around you about the opportunities to help.
Hope is ignited when we are generous to the poor by caring and being kind. Together, let’s do the Kingdom work of helping others feel seen, cared for, and connected with a sense of belonging.
Mexico: Purepecha Story, Part 3
Music is very important to this indigenous community. Luis, Alberto’s son, began a Christian music group with other young people that began to come to their Friday night services. The group learned the indigenous language and began to sing evangelical songs in their local Purepecha dialect. They began to be invited to different family gatherings, and word spread in the community that “their message is so different, so freeing, so without guilt!”
Of course, this began to enrage the local priest of the traditional religion, and the community elders were very upset that Alberto was “turning their world upside down!” It was a story just like what had happened in Acts chapter four. Alberto was called to a meeting with the community elders and the local priest. Just before heading out, someone came to warn Alberto that they were planning to burn him alive in the town square. Alberto did not go to the meeting, which enraged the elders and priest even more.
The townspeople began to plot against the family, blacklisting them at the local stores. No one would sell them any merchandise, forcing Alberto and Julia to drive into the next town to buy their groceries. Alberto bought a taxi and was accepted into the local taxi union, but no one would take his taxi.
One day, a crowd with baseball bats and knives gathered in the street in front of Alberto’s home. They began to shout obscenities and storm the front gate. The mob was ready to handle this family once and for all, make them leave town in disgrace, and ex-communicate them from the traditional church and the indigenous community. This would mean that Alberto and Julia would have to give up their home, land, and life in Quinceo.
As the mob advanced on their home, Alberto relates the following: “As they began to bang on our gates, out of nowhere, two big dogs came at the crowd, one from each side, and began to bite at the people. There was blood flowing in front of the house, and the people were screaming because they had never seen these dogs before in town. We didn’t own any dogs either. The mob began to disperse in fear, running for their lives and screaming from their wounds all the way to their homes.”
The next day, the town elders and priest came to the front gate to talk with Alberto. They told him that his family could stay in town and that the blacklisting would stop because “your God is greater than anything we have ever seen or encountered in our town.” They were also allowed to keep having church on their back patio.
Today, more than 100 local people gather weekly to praise God in their native dialect and listen to a message that helps them grow in their faith and that evangelizes to the visitors that come. They are outgrowing the back patio and have put a down payment on a parcel of land that is a little bit outside the center of town. If they can buy this piece of land and build a church, it would be the first evangelical indigenous church in that town ever! It is a daunting task, but this family has faced huge mountains before, and our powerful God always takes care of them.
As an Alliance church in Guadalajara, we have come alongside this indigenous church during the last four years, getting to know them, taking work teams and ministry teams from our church to their community, and becoming involved in their lives like a sister church. We have begun to take monthly offerings to help this new church reach into their community and share the message of the hope and light there is in Jesus.
What began as a family following their “stolen” daughter to the United States became a story of God being in control of each step in the lives of Alberto and Julia, leading them tenderly and showing them love and mercy. In response, Alberto and Julia became obedient to God’s call on their lives to go and share with their community so that no one would perish but have eternal life. Their daughter Abigail’s death has been the catalyst for hope in this very dark and lost community.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for this Circle of Hope ministry in Mexico. We have set a goal to raise $16,600. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
Mexico: Purepecha Story, Part 2
Alberto and Julia grew in the Lord and started attending an evangelical church in their small town in West Virginia. The leukemia treatment for their daughter was not having much effect and, unfortunately, Abigail died at the tender age of 18.
Alberto’s father demanded that the family bring her body back to their small community in Mexico so that she could be buried in her homeland. The family acceded to the wishes of the grandfather and patriarch of their clan. As the family returned to the little town of Quinceo, the spiritual darkness of this indigenous community was so strong and almost overwhelming for the family. As they held a service for Abigail, Alberto and Julia wanted to make it a celebration of not only her life but of the new life the whole family had experienced. The service reflected their faith in a living Savior, Jesus Christ.
Their immediate family did not know how to handle this “new” Alberto and Julia and began calling them “hallelujahs”—a common derogatory term for evangelical Christians in Mexico. Alberto and Julia could feel the oppressing darkness of their community; it was in stark contrast to the freedom and light they had experienced through their new life in Jesus. As they say in their own words, “We didn’t have any theological training, but we had life training through our church in West Virginia, Bible studies, our personal experiences as believers, and our fellowship with other believers. There was darkness all around us. We HAD to share with our family this new life we had experienced, this freedom, and our certainty that we would see our daughter again in heaven! Our family didn’t know anything about Jesus!”
After the funeral, Alberto talked with Julia and said these words: “How can we return back to our comfortable life in West Virginia when there are so many people dying every day in darkness and wrong beliefs, going to hell, being lost forever?”
Julia wasn’t so convinced at first. She liked her life in the United States. She had a beautiful home that they had built little-by-little. Their two boys were deeply involved in church, school, and sports in West Virginia. But the intense darkness that enveloped their family in Mexico began to work on her heart, and Julia knew that she had to obey and stay in Quinceo. Julia would once again begin a new life and become a witness to her community of the amazing power of Jesus and all that He does for His children.
Alberto and Julia received land as part of the indigenous community and were also able to buy some land in town where they built a home for their family. Using the back patio, they began to build an area that they would open to the town. Alberto and Julia started holding church services every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. Alberto began to preach, sharing from the Bible and from his life testimonies of what Jesus had done for him and what Jesus wanted to do for others in this community.
In December of 2020, the Circle of Hope made its first trip to the town of Quinceo in the state of Michoacan, four hours south of Guadalajara, as part of an integrated church-planting strategy to reach and train the Purepecha, an indigenous people group. The goal is to plant a new church, Breath of Life, in the nearby town of Paracho and establish the community development ministry of Circle of Hope. Once a suitable office is found in Paracho, the church and Circle of Hope will begin to offer Bible studies, spiritual counselling, legal aid, and job skills training for home micro-businesses.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the Circle of Hope ministry in Mexico. We have set a goal to raise $16,600 for this vital ministry to women. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
A Deeper Belonging
It was May 2014 when I declared emphatically to my sister, “I am done.” I had lived in the land of women’s ministry, a foreign land, for six years and was ready to return to where I had the deepest sense of belonging—children’s ministry. I had been dutiful and obedient in this new land, but I was disillusioned and tired. I was ready to cross the finish line and resume my familiar, preferred life of ministry.
Today, I am happy to report that God had a better plan. I did not leave the land of women’s ministry. I stayed and experienced the joy of a deeper belonging because of a gracious invitation.
In the narrative of Ruth, I find parallels to my own experience. I found myself a stranger in a foreign land, knowing I had journeyed there to draw near to God. My love for God was strong, but my sense of belonging with those around me lacked integrity. Ruth was not automatically accepted by the women of Bethlehem; yes, they were all women, but Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess. I was graciously accepted by the women I now led in my role as national director of Alliance Women, but in my own heart, I kept a distinction between us. I desired to be a woman in ministry but not in ministry to women!
We can be on the same team, occupy the same space, and still experience a disconnect from one another. We need someone greater than ourselves to declare that we all belong. In Ruth’s experience, it was Boaz declaring, “Stay here” (Ruth 2:8). In my story, it was Jesus Himself saying, “Stay here” at the Alliance Women table; “You may not feel it yet, but I know that you belong here.”
As I obeyed and stayed, I experienced an inner transformation that can only be explained by the faithful work of God. I did not ask for it because I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but I found my capacity to love women increasing. As my love grew, my sense of belonging grew as well. Those who once seemed foreign became “my people.” I know how stubborn and willful I am, so this deeper belonging must be credited to God alone.
Now, as I prepare to conclude my tenure as national director, I declare with deep gratitude, “I am not done; I will stay.” Yes, I will step away from a title and a team, but my availability to women will remain. I will stay in this once foreign land and live day by day, keeping in step with the Spirit. Where will the next chapter of my story lead me? Only God knows.
But this one thing I know: I belong.
May it be so for you as well.