Helping the Lost

Autumn 1990 – Vol.6 – No.3

One encounters serious problems delivering material relief to a people who have turned their backs on God at some point in the past and have since been given over to the gods of their choosing, to serve them in the fear and futility that attends such service, and to be shut off from the moral and temporal relief that true believers receive from God’s hand.

We have been in Mozambique barely four months, but the Lord already has opened our eyes to realities we would scarcely have understood before. Those who follow our monthly reports are aware of the difficulties we have had trying to help the orphan, Jacinto, whose parents were murdered by banditos seven years ago. In this newsletter we record the sad details of a much larger relief effort, together with our conclusions. I have little doubt that some will disagree with the following interpretation of the events described in the African journal, but I have no interest in concealing our philosophy, thoughts, and motives from those who are joining themselves to us in this ministry.

Material relief provided without preaching the Gospel is limited in its impact. The very moral deficiency of the culture through which one is working significantly blunts the effect the aid could have. We make no apology for using physical help primarily as a means of drawing people to hear the Gospel. Even if physical well being were our principal aim, in a society devoid of Christian influence the delivery of material aid alone is greatly hindered and its effect reduced. In order to make good use of mammon, one must at least be influenced by Christian principles. If our god is money, we will never have enough of it. We will earn it only to store it in a purse with holes (Haggai 4:6). God has plainly stated this principle in His word. It is woven into the fabric of His creation.

The Lord Jesus Christ said that preoccupation with such basic necessities as food and clothing instead of righteousness and serving Him is putting the cart before the horse. It is when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness that “all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). If we believe this, our philosophy of relief work will reflect a fact that has already become obvious in our short time here: The Gospel must be preeminent. It must be the focus. Until it changes lives, there will be little to show for all the money and material help pumped in from outside.

This is not to say we abandon relief efforts. How can we? The love of Christ constrains us (II Corinthians 5:14). A Christian cannot grow calloused to the physical needs of others. God has said, “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).

An enlightened Christian, however, will not respond after the manner of the world. The solution is not money, food, factories, roads, education, or physical health. The solution is repentance. Men must abandon the broken cisterns they have hewn for themselves, cisterns that can hold no water, and return to the true God who alone can alter lastingly the moral problems of our race (Jeremiah 2:13).