Wednesday, July 2, 1997
by Leoni Potgieter
The Lord's practice exceeded His Teachings, but does your practice exceed your teaching?
220 obedient responders to Isaiah 58 were faced by this challenge at the Ministry to the Poor and Needy track. As Br. John Richards opened the scripture, the delegates were driven to a self-investigation of their motives and the way they respond to the needs of the poor as part of an impartation to the delegates: some battle-worn soldiers in His army, others filled with the living hope. The Bible study laid the foundation for the rest of the working session, giving new direction to the track.
The delegates was shown the real reason for Isaiah's fast, the motivation for ministry to the poor. We were shown our own sinful ways, doing God's work for our own purposes, our own self-interest. Our response was to humbly come before God in obedience with 2 Chron 7:14 and confess our sinful ways to the Lord.
During the session God's working power (1 Cor 4) was confirmed, power strong enough to overcome prostitution, poverty, difficult circumstances and every other burden experienced.
The delegates acknowledged God's call on their lives and committed themselves to stand in the gap, to be a vessel to pour out God's blessing and anointing to the needy people all over the world.
The session ended with all the delegates spontaneously calling out to God, responding to His Word. They called out to God to forgive their sinful ways and asked God's Spirit to guide them and give them humble hearts. Some of the delegates cried out to God on behalf of their countries, some of them confessing that their countries use their riches for wrong purposes, others called out to God on behalf of the poor. It was a time of healing and reconciliation.
God promised in Isaiah 58:10 'And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness". True to His promise, God poured out His blessing, and gave the delegates living water, to fill them up and give them new strength.
This is the greeting one of the delegates to the Rural and Urban Poor Network received as she walked and prayed on the streets of Mamelodi, Pretoria.
The poor working-class community of Mamelodi is the site the Poor And Needy Track chose. Most of the delegates of this conference are residing in the homes of the people of Mamelodi. This means that many of them are falling asleep, shivering, waking up to cold showers out of a bucket, and braving the winter weather to find the toilet in the backyard shed.
This process of identifying with the poor in a very practical manner is sensitizing their hearts to the plight of those they serve or seek to serve. It is also sensitizing their hearts to the extravagant love that their Father has for all. Hearts are being enlarged as the delegates sincerely grapple with the means to: "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed". (Psalm 82:3)
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