The Exciting Good News
I had just finished a three hour lunch after church and was about to share my Good News with someone. We loved going to the buffet and having lunch after church. The waitresses probably didn’t like to see us coming in because we hardly ever tipped them much, if anything, and then we would stay long enough to have dinner. Imagine having to provide drink refills to people and interact with them for hours to either get no tip or two dollars. We loved our “two for the price of one” deals. It was awful of us but we didn’t see our witness to the world. I remember a friend years later telling me that waitresses would avoid waiting on the Christians because they often complained and tipped very little. This was and is our reputation to the world.
An Encounter with Bad News
We walked out in the parking lot, laughing and joking. We were oblivious as usual, and then something broke through and grabbed our attention. A woman was crying near her car. She was lying on the ground next to her car when we found her. We went to her but she couldn’t speak very much at all. Through broken sobs we began to piece through her story. Her husband had met her there at the restaurant and told her that he was leaving her. She was inconsolable. All we could think about was the fact that she needed Jesus. Jesus would fix it. Our whole focus wasn’t on this poor distraught woman, but on our religious agenda.
We Didn’t See Her
Our Good News was Bad News for her but we were so focused on our programming that we became obtuse. We tried through choked sobs and her falling down and being unable to stand to witness to her. If she just gave her life to Jesus, we told her everything would be better. God could handle her problems and bring her husband back. Like ignorant children, we failed miserably to share anything meaningful with her in that moment. She couldn’t hear a thing. Her world had just fallen apart and the last thing she needed was to be confronted with religious proselytism. Needless to say, we failed.
The Largest Slum in the World
Many years later, while serving as a senior pastor, I went to Africa. I had been there many times over a twenty year span. I had never been to the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya. It boasts a population of over a million people living in abject poverty. Children run barefoot through the corridors of dirt and mud while open sewage flows freely. Tin roofs mark the landscape and present a people who are desperate for Good News. I was taken through these slums and walked for miles as a friend escorted me, delivering a history as we went. I was shocked as I saw religious institutions all throughout the place. When I asked my friend how many non government organizations were in Kibera, his guess was over five hundred. He told me that the ministries there, no matter what religion they ascribe to, take from the people.
A Poverty Epiphany
A man who works and lives in Kibera makes enough in a years time to buy one suit. The church he attends will have a clothing drive and ask him to donate one suit. Pressure to conform in order to be accepted by others in the church leaves that man in a precarious position. He will donate all the money he has made in a year to the church along with all the other poor people who do the same. This builds church membership and the pastor is very happy. In fact, the rumor in Kibera is if you want to be rich, be a pastor! Pastors get to drive cars and they have actually moved out of Kibera to houses of their own. All on the backs of the poor.
Temptation to Preach Real Good NewsWhen I heard that news we were walking and had been most of the day. In front of us as we rounded a corner was a makeshift stage. You see them often as Muslims, Christians and other religions will set up a platform and have entertainment to draw people in. Once they get an audience, they pitch their religion and move into conversion mode. My heart was so broken over the days events. I asked Sam, the man who was with us, “What would happen if I set up a ministry here and gave to the people instead of taking from them?”
He looked at me with his beautiful smile and said, “Everyone would go to you!”
Giving TO the Poor
This, I believe, is the heart of Christ. To give, and to not take from the poor. To share equally among one another and not horde to oneself. It saddens me to see religion take from those who already have so little. I would like religion a whole lot more if they, like Robin Hood, would set up their entrapment’s in rich communities and then come and give to the poor instead of lining their “ministries” pockets. Yet, the rich are not as desperate nor as gullible as the poor.
A Better Gospel
The good news that we share with people should be “Good News”. The propagation of the gospel as written in the book of Acts caused people to react in strange and beautiful ways. Those that heard the message and believed saw the benefit and empowerment of being in a community. People shared with one another and sold all they had to forfeit it for everyone. They came together, prayed for direction and then they went. It was simple back then, two by two. All they were sharing was the good news. What was that good news?
- God wasn’t holding humanity hostage for behavior.
- Humans have a “sixth sense” within that allows them to listen for and follow their “inner voice”.
- When humanity understands it’s oneness, political, racial, economical lines all fall to a beautiful equality.
This is not an exhaustive “Good News” list, but it’s a great start. If only we could get more people to stop building their own exclusive clubs and build an inclusive community, we may see more Christ like nature exhibited in this world.
Kimberly is an ordained minister who was a senior pastor and involved in ministry for over thirty years. She lived in Africa and traveled extensively in the United States and abroad, hosting conferences to groups in the thousands. She left organized religion to pursue a life of faith and faithfulness.
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