What does it mean to waste life?
This is a burning question that all human beings need to face as individuals. Many are wasting the time that God has given us on temporal things. Many are sacrificing their lives on the altar of materialism. And many people, by time they realise that they have wasted their lives, conclude that it is too late to make any meaningful changes.
In 1977, a friend of mine stepped on a landmine and died instantly. Their death got me to thinking – what is life all about? I had lived my life in the USA working in the corporate world and all that it entails. Then one day in 1984, while on leave, my mother invited me to attend a conference at the local brethren church in Chingola. I wasn’t keen to go but, just to please her, I went. That night I got utterly saved and everything within me changed. I have never come back to the ‘World’!
There was an inward and outward transformation within me. I now looked on life and the world with a different pair of lenses—the lenses of Jesus Christ. My life started to have meaning, as I was no longer on a broad road where many waste their lives. I was now able to see our communities in a different perspective. I came to know that God loves me dearly and that he had liberated me from the bondage of self.
I now no longer saw Christianity as a facsimile of Victorian culture, or as a tool of the Colonialists. From reading the Scriptures, I came to know and understand the reality that I can now enjoy knowing the Lord forever. And that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for my sake, that I would live a life pleasing to God. I also suddenly realised that I was the means of reaching out to others in need (both spiritually and materially) in my community – wherever that community was.
If I give up my life to him, if I die to myself, then I will produce a harvest for my Lord (John 12:24-26). In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us’. The treasure is the gospel message we proclaim. The jars of clay are ordinary Christians like you and me who must proclaim Christ. And the Lord has a call on my life – I am a missionary. Lives become touched by the gospel, leading to transformed communities of people to God’s glory. I pray for myself, that I will set my face like a flint to follow Jesus Christ on the Calvary road (Hebrews 13:13-14). All I need to do is to be obedient and faithful to God, and leave the outcomes to Him.
Lives become touched by the gospel, leading to transformed communities of people to God’s glory.
Obedience to God
The problem of street children has been an issue that has touched my heart now for a long time. To me, working amongst street children and other vulnerable children is not a project; it is about the life of Christ in the children. The Lord impressed upon my heart many years ago that people, not projects, must come first. Jesus Christ died for people.
Jesus loves children. He told his disciples to ‘let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these’ (Mark 10:14). But throughout Africa many children are not coming to Jesus because they are condemned to a life on the streets. Some of these children are on the streets by day but return home at night, sometimes to parents who demand money from them. Many literally live on the streets, where they experience hardship, fear and insecurity. Drugs and solvents help street children to cope with the scorn, rejection and abuse they receive as they accost adults to demand money.
Some of these children are forced to the streets by their parents’ death from AIDS, by lack of food, or school fees at home, or by physical and sexual abuse. Peer influences and a desire to escape the discipline imposed by home and school draw others.
The church needs to build up love within communities and become an advocate for children who are already on the streets, working to ‘let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream’ (Amos 5:24). When children cannot see the hand of the Lord, we need to stretch out our hands to them. They need our spiritual guidance, our provision for their basic needs, and access to health services and education. The task is urgent!
Jesus came into this world knowing what it would cost Him. He bore in His pure being the marks of evil that we might be made pure. “…for this I came into the world…” (John 18:37). The gospel points to the person of Christ who went to the cross to transform the world. It was not just the prodigal in the far-off country who squandered the love of the father, the older brother lost out as well, though he was close to the father’s love. I am thankful Christ rescued me from my addiction to self and brought me, changed, into the presence of His Father.