20 February 2011

Beauty for Ashes

The Lord is doing an awesome work, providing opportunities to impact the lives of the next generation to rebuild the devastation of many generations. He has anointed His own to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the afflicted, to heal the broken hearted and to give beauty for ashes.

Romans says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Each one of us has an opportunity to take on a key role in Bringing Beauty to Replace the Ashes of Life?

Beauty for ashes refers to the replacing of brokenness, illness, poverty and hatred, with healing, health, abundance and love in the same humility as Jesus Himself taught. It is the heart of God to be among the hurting and broken, allowing them to experience the love of Christ and the empowering of His Holy Spirit.

While there are numerous ministries and groups within the US to assist our youth, there are few in the apartheid-torn townships of South Africa. The townships are largely populated by youngsters from child-managed homes. These are homes where siblings orphaned by AIDS, care for one another with little or no adult supervision. Frequently, extreme violence is perpetrated on the innocent from a bitter heart, longing for love. The result of fatherless generations and broken hearts amid upheaval and destruction.

Here, children often lose their innocence in the midst of daily survival and rarely know the protection of a loving father or the tender touch of a caring mother. 

It is frequently a life filled with violence, disease and poverty - a poverty beyond what the western world can imagine. While visiting at Christmas time 2009, I had the oportunity to attend the Joy Centre Christmas Party for the children of Kagiso.  I was overwhelmed to see baby Jesus represented by a small, yellow, plastic bowl. Here, where bellies are filled with finely ground corn-meal and clothes are often worn out before being put on, there are no dolls in the arms of little girls, no cars or trucks in the hands of little boys. It is a place lacking the funds for modern conveniences such as electricity to provide light and hot water, let alone toys, princess gowns and bicycles. But, it is a place where love can conquer and eyes can smile.

With the awareness of the need, now is the time to bring the good news, so that they can call upon Him Whom they have not believed. Now is the time for the Body of Christ to rise up and be His hands, His feet and His mouthpiece to heal, to restore and to replace the ashes of life with the beauty of His love. This can only be accomplished as each one encounters the love of Christ personally. As has been said many times, “Witness often. Use words if necessary.” We must recognize that the Body of Christ has been equipped for service, it is time for every joint to give their supply.

How does one provide Beauty for Ashes?
First, in the spirit of adoption, the love of the Father is revealed. This begins with the dedicated, individual and corporate application of scripture. This is our motivation to shift from a paradigm of teaching Christian principles, in a sterilized classroom environment, to the recognition of a living gospel, the knowledge of Christ in me, the hope of glory. Hereby the good news is taken into the streets of a broken and hurting world. This is the where hands feed the hungry, heal the sick, and comfort the mourning. This is the place where tears are turned to laughter and weeping is turned to dancing, as individuals discover the love of the Father for the fatherless.

Second, through training in daily life skills, the gospel is practically applied. Again, in a spirit of adoption, with the love of the Father, individuals learn proper hygiene, disease prevention, and appropriate communication skills. They will in turn influence and train the next generation. It is at this juncture that the spread of deadly disease is halted, the rejection of society is ended and the poor realize they have both identity and purpose. Sadness and sorrow begin to flee.

Finally, quality education that both equips the individual for Kingdom work as well as the worlds’ workforce places a spiritual and physical stamp of approval on the efforts of a job well done. Having come to a knowledge of the Fathers' love and a realization of purpose and destiny, each one has the opportunity to look beyond the walls of the township.  Visitation Day University is easily accessable both in physical location and via tuition scholarships that provide funding for those unable to finance higher education.  What is sown in dishonor is raised to glory and that which is sown in weakness is raised in power. Out of the ashes, beauty is formed.

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