This is an absolute must read. I ordered this book after finding it while searching for orphan missions and have been recommending it to everyone I talk to. Like I mentioned previously, since returning home from Ethiopia in January, I have a constant longing for the country and it's people, especially the orphans that we left behind. So as I was trying to find an outlet for all of this energy built up inside, I found this book. This is a follow up book to "Fields of the Fatherless" by Tom Davis. I ordered that one also, but "Red Letters" came first. It is a very easy read and even with 5 kids running around, I managed to read it in 3 or 4 days. The premise of the book is this-what if we lived our lives according to the "red letters" (God's very own words) in the bible? How would that look? The book talks about orphans in Russia and those affected by extreme poverty, but mostly focuses on the incomprehensible orphan crisis in Africa and how the AIDS pandemic has created a state of emergency and is literally wiping out whole villages and leaving millions of children without parents. Below is an excerpt from the book description.
I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."
Matthew 25:42-43 ESV
In many Bibles, Christ's words are set apart with a red font. It should be obvious, but this distinction helps remind us that when God becomes Man and that Man speaks--it's probably something we cannot afford to miss.
So why doesn't the church take these " red letters" to heart? Why aren't we doing more to be Christ's hands and feet to the poor, the disenfranchised, the weary, the ill, the fatherless, the prisoners? It's all there--in red letters. Why has the Church shirked its responsibilities, leaving the work to be done by governments, rock stars, and celebrities?
The Gospel wasn't only meant to be read--it was meant to be lived. From the HIV crisis in Africa to a single abused and lonely child in Russia, the Church must seize the opportunity to serve with a radical, reckless abandon. Author Tom Davis offers both challenge and encouragement to get involved in an increasingly interconnected, desperate modern world.
He goes on to talk about how we as Christians have allowed this problem to be that of government agencies and charitable organizations instead of taking it on as our problem (which it actually is). We are called to care for the least of these (who I think you'll find are really the "most of these"). The fact is, that we have the resources and the power to make a real difference in the live of others. For as little as $4, you can pay for the life saving medication that cures a sufferer of malaria. Who doesn't have $4???? That is measurable change. One life-saved-for the cost of a designer cup of coffee.
This past weekend, I took the kids downtown to the park. As we were walking to the playground, we past a luxury pet boutique. They had a sign in the window that said, "All pet beds $40-$60 off. I looked at my mom and said, if they're on sale for that much off, I wonder how much they were full price?" I mean seriously, our nation has been so skewed by materialism that consumers spend countless dollars on pet clothing and diamond dog collars. No offense really to dog fans (we use to take our dog to the VIP Pet Resort when we went on vacation, so we're guilty too-of course since we've had kids she's been down graded to the vet kennel), but we're spending our money (which is actually God's) to decorate and pamper our pets when people are LITERALLY DYING OF STARVATION and diseases that are easily treated with medication that we have readily available. Kids are being orphaned and nations are being left in ruins because we choose to place Africa in a distant part of our minds that doesn't really want to recognize that we are all members of the same family-we are all God's children and He loves us all the same.
For most of us, it would be unacceptable to allow members of our family to suffer without relief, to go to bed hungry (actually starving), to be left without a mother or father, to be left without hope. Yet, that is what we as churches, as Christians, as people are doing when we busy ourselves with "stuff" instead of living out the gospel and "visiting the orphans and the widows in their distress".
The statistics in this book are staggering. They are unfair. They are an outrage. THEY ARE TRUE. We must move quickly and we must all do our part. I'm constantly reminding our children to "treat others the way you want to be treated". I imagine if you were an orphan, a widow, an AIDS patient, or homeless that you would want to be treated with compassion and love and that you would want someone to come to you in your distress.
We need to stop thinking that someone else will take care of the problem-they won't. That other organizations have it covered-they don't. It is up to God's people to follow his commands.
If you feel called to care for the orphan or minister to the poor-DO IT. Don't let anything stand in your way. God provides for His people when they follow after His heart, so whatever you think is standing in your way, whether it's about money, or time, or age, or what others will think...don't let your fears stand in your way. He is faithful!! Even if you don't "feel" like you have been "called", you have. If you count yourself as a Christian, you have been called. Pray for that "feeling" and that God will give you a heart for what matters to HIM.
This is the link for Children's Hope Chest-the organization that Tom Davis has started to respond to the pandemic of AIDS and the orphan crisis. I pray that my heart will continue to break for the things that break the Lords and that our family, as our pastor Isaac Hunter says, "will not just be hearers of the word, but DOERS also."
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
Defending the Fatherless,