Darryl's thoughts on the Christian Faith, Facts, and World Events
Build the Wall In Front of Your House: A Biblical Guide to Problem Solving
As a missionary in Cambodia since 2000, walls have been a part of my daily life for many years. When I first moved to Cambodia, I shared a mission-team house with other missionaries which was surrounded by a wall. When the 8-foot tall concrete and steel spike wall was no longer sufficient to prevent spiderman-like burglars from coming in to the property two nights in a row, the landlord added another 18 inches of coiled razor wire on top of that. My churches, Bible schools, and son's Christian school have all been surrounded by walls, gates, and guards. In developing countries, walls are not for decorative purposes but for defensive purposes. Israel at the time of Nehemiah was a developing country at the time and so the wall around Jerusalem necessary for the common defense.
I was reminded of how Nehemiah reorganized the people of Jerusalem to rebuild certain sections of the wall. I was also reminded of the phrase, "In front of their houses."
Nehemiah 3:23, "Next to them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their own house. Next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his own house."
Problems Are Often Too Big For Us To Solve Alone.
Americans, like myself, are usually programmed by our culture to be individualists. Therefore, we usually to try to solve all of our problems by ourselves and we expect others to do the same. This is a great tactic when the problems are small, because we can solve them quickly and individually. However when problems are too big for to solve individually, we often end up being frustrated with ourselves or others for being unable to acheive the impossible. The result is paralysis.
Other cultures are much more community-oriented. Therefore, they usually try to find community-based solutions to problems. This process is slower and can be less efficient than individualism when dealing with smaller or urgent problems but it really shines when dealing with large and long term problems. Maybe this is why the "Great Wall" was built in China.
I believe that the Biblical model is somewhere in the middle between Individualism and Community-Orientation and so it can have the best of both and avoids the weakenesses of both too.
When Problems Are Too Big To Solve Individually, Work Together As Group.
Some problems, like rebuilding a city wall, is too big for the individual to ever complete in a timely manner. Therefore, a group is needed.
Even If We Can't Solve The Whole Problem Alone, We Should Each Do Our Part, No Matter How Small.
The fear of being overwhelmed by the needs or the size of the problem often paralyzes us into doing nothing. For example, when we see a homeless person, we usually avoid eye contact because we know that we cannot solve ALL of their problems by ourselves. However, if we have the ability to help them either temporarily or permanently resolve ONE of their problems (even a cup of water), then I believe that we should do what we can to help, no matter how small.
Once I was walking down the street in downtown Los Angeles. I met a homeless man and started talking to him. I tried to witness to him, but he said, "Unless God gives me food right now, I won't believe!" Within, seconds, a man walking down the street past us put a sandwich into the homeless man's hands. Within a minute after that, a car pulled up to the curb, honked and a woman held out a bottle of water for the homeless man to take. Convicted and amazed, I took the man to McDonald, bought him lunch, and witnessed to him. When I left, the homeless man, was still homeless, but because that man and woman obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit at that exact moment (I don't know their spiritual backgrounds but they did the exact right thing in that momemt) the homeless man's problems were partially solved. 1. He got lunch. 2. He got dinner. 3. Most importantly, He had an opportunity to hear the Gospel.
Now, I am a missionary, unfortunately many people regard my family and I as, "Holy Homeless," because we live on donations. People get nervous, awkward, and distant when we mention our financial needs. The truth is that we are really Great Commission representatives. We go to the mission field in other's places, so that other Christians can stay behind and be senders.
Many Christians also wrongly think that the Great Commission is an optional extra credit project--it isn't. Instead the Great Commission is required of all Christians. "Go into all the world," starts by spreading the Gospel across your own kitchen table to your family, across the street to your neighborhood, across the city, nation, and world. Missionaries go to the ends of the earth so that you don't have to. When I can no longer be a missionary to Cambodia, God may call you to replace me as a missionary. Then I will be the sender for you.
The Great Commission (in the missionary sense) is the main defense (a wall if you will) against the localized extinction of Christianity in areas where persecution is strongest. Unless Christianity keeps growing, it will eventually be crushed by persecution at least in certain locations.
The Great Commission, as a problem/challenge/wall that needs to be rebuilt most Christians stay on the sidelines because they know that the needs are so great that they are overwhelming. However, the truth is that the needs are so great and overwhelming because most Christians are still on the sidelines! Instead of a few Christians doing and sacrificing too much, it would be much better, more enjoyable, and more sustainable if all Christians each did and sacrificed a little.
Here are a few real-life examples. You don't need to sacrifice your home to become a powerful Great Commission Wall Builder. Instead, you could just host some missionaries for a few days when they are on home-assignment. The costs for you will be minimal and the missionaries will save hundreds of dollars in motel fees (and missionaries usually have some interesting/funny stories so count it as entertainment). You don't have to give up your extra car to be an important part of the Great Commission. Instead, you could loan it to missionaries on home assignment for a few days. This will save missionaries hundreds of dollars in car rental or ride-sharing expenses. Even though missionaries need to raise thousands of dollars monthly in order to stay on the field and engage in meaningful ministries, (cheerfully given, sustainable, faithful, regular etc.) monthly donations from $10 to $50 (maybe cut back on the Starbucks and cable TV) are what they (we) need more than huge one-time donations (we welcome those too but we cannot really make plans).
The Great Commission, Homelessness, and other problems are too big for us to solve as individuals. However, if we work together as the Body of Christ and each one is faithful to our own responsibilities, many problems can be resolved or at least minimized. If you see a need, don't be afraid to do what you can and give what you have. Trust that God will supply the rest either through other people or if necessary, He can even rain manna from heaven. But it is more likely to be a sandwich and a bottle of water from strangers.
Matthew 25: 35-36,
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’" Each of these things listed is reasonably inexpensive. The homeless and missionaries both need everything listed here.
I also recommend that you read my other blog article, "What is in Your Hand?" www.internationalfishers.com/blog/what-is-in-your-hand
A Christian Apologist, Author, Missionary, Husband, and Father. Darryl has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University (CA), an MA in TESOL from Azusa Pacific University (CA), and a BA in Political Science from Truman State University (MO).