Recently, I attended the Asian Culture Festival held every March in Homestead. Fascinated by the earthy and rustic beauty of Asian dance and apparel, I enjoyed watching various performers reenact dances, marshal arts drills and songs commemorating their Asian heritage. I even sampled some of their native cuisine, including some sweet Thai iced tea that I must learn to make (or buy) someday.
But I also realized that day that God has a way of using the memorable moments in life to speak to us if we will but listen.
Three things hit home with me in a way that transcended the cultural festivities. The first thing that struck me was that, in spite of all the differences between our Asian guests and my native South Florida, we are all still people at heart. We all seem to carry the same hopes and dreams, fears and failures, regardless of our upbringing. One song I listened to spoke of a lovesick young man hoping to win the heart of the girl he so desperately longed to marry. Another performance conjured up pictures of wars between rival religious factions, while another celebrated the bounty of a good harvest.
On a deeper level, I was also moved with compassion for those in the Asian community. I wondered how many of them did not have a personal relationship with Christ, the One who can save us from our sin. Did they know the Gospel message? Did they realize what Christ had done for them on the cross?
Not only did I share a need for love and provision with them, we also shared the universal need for a Savior.
Third, I thought of the love that Christ has for all people of all nations and tongues. If I was moved with compassion for people I had never met, how much more did the Lord care for them? Infinitely more than I ever could. As much as I enjoyed the music and food, I relished even more my communion with the Lord as He impressed into my heart His love for these people. God is faithful, I thought, to use even the little pleasures in life to draw us close to Him.
But I couldn’t leave it at that, basking in the warm glow of my feelings of compassion and my personal communion with the Lord. The souls of these people hung in the balance of eternity. Their decision to trust in Christ – or to reject Him – would tip the scales one way or the other. Something more needed to be done.
Jesus, also, was moved with compassion for others, and His response was always to do something about it.
In the sixth chapter of Mark’s Gospel we behold Jesus being “moved with compassion” for the people He ministered to (Mark 6:34). Elsewhere in the New Testament, Jesus taught His disciples that to give even a cup of water to someone in His name would certainly be honored by the Father (Matthew 10:42).
I’ve learned that whenever God impresses within our hearts to do something for someone, we would be wise to respond. Doing nothing in response to God’s call only causes us to miss out on the blessing of seeing Him work through us.
Further, Jesus responded with intercessory prayer for those who were lost spiritually. He prayed not only for His disciples but for those who would believe in Him through their preaching (John 17:20-26). Prayer for the lost is effective for through it we see the convicting work of God’s Spirit moving upon the hearts of those for whom we pray. But prayer is also necessary. In some way that I cannot comprehend, God perfectly accomplishes His sovereign will in conjunction with the choices we make, including our choice to pray for the lost.
Personally, I hope that when I get to heaven, I will see those for whom I have offered up prayers of eternal salvation.
Finally, the Bible also teaches that we should be equipped to share the Gospel.
The Apostle Peter wrote that we should “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Some time ago, God called me to pursue an advanced degree in Christian apologetics. I’m still not quite sure what God wants to do with everything I’ve learned thus far, but one thing is certain, He is using it in my life now. Being trained in Christian apologetics, a branch of theology dedicated to defending the truths of Christianity, is, in my estimation, one of the most valuable tools you can have in your “tool box” of life. Take the time to read a few good apologetics books, drilling yourself with the material to ensure that you know it.
Should the Lord tarry for another year, I hope to attend next year’s Asian Culture Festival and view the beauty that rivals any I have seen thus far. But, more importantly, may the Lord raise us up to be both eager and equipped to share the Gospel with all whom we meet. Our willingness to obey, along with the empowering work of God’s Spirit in us, will do just that.
By then, who knows, maybe I will have even discovered the secret of Thai iced tea as an added bonus.
Allen can be reached at [email protected]