Although it was still morning, I could already feel the hot African sun.  Clouds of dust puffed up by passing vehicles was gradually drifting into my house and settling like dirty powder on everything.  I could hear people whistling and shouting for taxis as they made their way into town.  A pretty typical day for those of us living in Kitwe, Zambia.

My husband was at the college teaching, and the girls were in school so I knew I had just a few hours to get all my errands done.  Grabbing the keys, I hurried to the truck and reviewed my list…I was a woman on a mission!

Pay bills. 

Get groceries.

Visit hardware store for garden supplies. 

Pick up worm medicine for dogs at the Veterinary Clinic. 

Pick up worm medicine for family at the Medical Clinic.

You get the idea…

But on this ‘typical’ day God had a job for me that I completely ignored. 

I still regret it to this day.

I was used to seeing beggars and street people around town.  They were part of my typical day and part of the mission package I had agreed to - coming face to face with poverty. 

“Madam, can I wash your car while you shop?”  “Madam, do you have any extra Kwacha?” “Madam, my family needs food.” 

I sped through the roundabout hoping that there wouldn’t be a police check on the other side bur rehearsing my answers should there be one – they always made me nervous.  And as I slowed down to turn the corner, I saw him. He was dressed in rags that had turned reddish-brown by lying in the Zambian dirt.  Hunched over, he was throwing up…the kind that brings nothing but spastically tries anyway.  In those few seconds I saw.  I saw a desperate man, needing help.

But I drove on.

Of course, I justified my actions.

I didn’t have time.  I only get the car once a week.  It wasn’t safe to stop.  How could I really help?

Recently I was reading the story of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus tells this parable in response to an expert in religious law interrogating him on eternal life.  So guess what jumped out off the page at me? 

Luke 10:29   “The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’”

When it comes to responding to Christ we too can try to justify our actions…or inactions for that matter.  But let me humbly give you two pieces of advice from my regretful-pass-by. 

 

1) Pray. Pray that God would give you the courage to obey.  CS Lewis once said, “For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model.  Removing mountains can wait.” 

2) Recognize that obedience will be uncomfortable and inconvenient.  I love how Martin Luther King Jr interprets this parable, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But...the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

ZOE Network knows it’s hard to respond…I’m proof of that. 

But be certain of this…if you do respond…you will experience life – ZOE [Gk] life!  Luke 10:28

 

Marvelyn Schell

ZOE Network Strategy Coordinator

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Responses:

I think we have all had our own “missed opportunity” moments. I know I have. Even though I have been a Christian for almost 30 years I sometimes feel like a defiant toddler or a sullen teenager when God asks me to obey. And the funny thing is—He has proved himself faithful to me over and over again and I know that stepping out in obedience is not only the right thing to do but, as Marvelyn wrote, it’s the key to a joy-filled life. So I pray, not only for myself to be obedient in responding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, but for all women who are seeking to live a life pleasing to the Lord. 

Jordan Hageman

Jordan Hageman is a pastor’s wife, a mom of 3, a writer and a follower of Jesus.

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