…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
What’s it like serving others who may be quite different from us?
I don’t normally like to lead people on tours of the Red Light District, but this time it was different. I felt I was to challenge a group of senior Christian leaders with the needs and opportunities the area presented. Coming to the end of the tour, we rounded a corner and headed back toward The Cleft. As we walked down the street, I realized we would pass two of the girls, Maria and Alice, whom Sally and I knew. It was a warm summer’s afternoon, and I could already see them leaning against the side of the building with virtually no clothes on. They were bound to say “Hello” and want to talk. They normally greeted me by name, and I knew their friendliness could give a wrong impression to these men. Usually I did not stop to talk to the girls if I was alone, but what should I do in this situation? My mind raced ahead to what my respected friends would think, and I considered a hasty detour up one of the side streets. I could just imagine what these leaders would think of my being on first name terms with prostitutes! Even as I thought of such diversionary tactics, I knew that it would not be honest to try to avoid the girls, so we walked straight on, and sure enough, they smiled and greeted me warmly.
“Floyd! Hello! How’re you doing?” Maria and Alice asked as they stepped over to talk.
“Hello, Maria. Hi Alice. How’re you?” We talked together for a few moments. All the time I sensed my colleagues standing uncomfortably behind me. I wondered what they were thinking. Nothing more was said that day, but a few months later I was speaking at a conference when one of the men who had been in that party came up to me.
“Floyd, I’d like to have a word with you, please. Remember that day you took us through the Red Light District when we visited you in Amsterdam, and you stopped to talk to those two girls who had hardly anything on?”
“Er … yes,” I replied, wondering if I was about to be admonished or cautioned.
“Well, I want to thank you,” the man continued, his eyes filling with tears.
“You see, up until that time, all I had seen were ‘pimps’ and ‘prostitutes,’ but when you took time to speak with those girls and called them by name, I saw them as people for the first time.”
That is what our ministry is about – people – and Amsterdam is full of so many different types of people, all with individual names and with individual needs. God looks down on the vast crowd in this vibrant fast moving city and sees not just a sea of blurred faces, but people He has lovingly formed. He cares about each one and longs for them to come to know Him personally. And His great love is not just true for Amsterdam, but of all the great cities of our world.
Source: Floyd McClung, Living on the Devil’s Doorstep – From Kabul to Amsterdam, YWAM Publishing, 1988
Luke 7: 47,48 (NLT)
47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:34 (NIV)
34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
“You see, up until that time,
all I had seen were
‘pimps’ and ‘prostitutes,’
but when you took time
to speak with those girls
and called them by name,
I saw them as people
for the first time.”
Matthew 21:31,32 (NIV)
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
Luke 19:5-7, 10 (NIV)
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
1 Timothy 1:13-15
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
God help the Outcasts
We are all sinners and every sin deserves God’s punishment. God has been merciful to us as Christians, and we believe that we should extend that same mercy to others.
The most important lesson that Sally and I have learned by living in Amsterdam is one we believe applies to all Christians – God wants to use families to reach others for Himself. To seek our own security and welfare, to be preoccupied with our own comfort and pleasure, is no guarantee for happiness. In fact the greatest happiness in life is found in serving others, wherever, and however God calls us to do that.
The challenge isn’t for all Christians to move into the inner city – The Lord may not want us there – but for us to ask ourselves, “What are our values, and what are we living for?” Is it to please ourselves and have a good life materially, or do we want to be part of the Lord’s work, wherever that may take us?
We still live on the “Devil’s Doorstep.” If it wasn’t here in Amsterdam, then it would be somewhere else. Why? Because that is where the action is! I don’t want to be sitting somewhere in suburbia watching television whle God changes the world! I want to be on the frontline.
Sally and I dedicated our lives to reaching the world with the gospel. We only have one life, and we want it to count to the maximum for God. I feel the way C.T. Studd, the great English sportsman, must have felt when he coined these words many years ago:
Some want to live within the sound
Of church and chapel bell –
I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of hell.”
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
July 20, 2014
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