These are strange times we live in. Right here in the USA, charities that care for orphans and invalids, and small businesses run by families are forced to close or face punitive fines because of morals informed by faith. Are news stories like these the canary in the coalmine? Is the world better off with fewer Christian organizations, and is that where we’re headed?
History tells us that Christians have often served with courage. In 252 AD in what is now Tunisia, when the plague began to spread, residents including medical practitioners fled the affected areas, abandoning the afflicted. But not Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage. He organized Christians to risk their own lives to care for the afflicted. He seized the opportunity to show living witness to the hope of eternity. For his efforts, he was superstitiously blamed for the plague and banished. In 258, he returned only to be arrested and condemned to a martyr’s death by the people who knew the good he did. The words come to mind, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
Africa is better off because of Christians like Dr. Kent Brantly with Samaritan’s Purse, who in 2014 contracted Ebola while treating those with the disease. His remarks to the 2015 graduating class at his Alma Mater, Indiana University School of Medicine, reflect a familiar Christian worldview: “When everyone else is running away in fear, we stay to help, to offer healing and hope. There is so much more to being a physician than curing illness. The most important thing we do is enter into the suffering of others.” He recently returned to Liberia with his family to continue doing just that.
Christ-followers in America today are organized in multiple ways to serve with compassion: Caring for the poor while preserving their dignity, and challenging them to participate in the solution; creating businesses in poverty-stricken areas to give hope for communities; supporting the two lives most affected by unplanned pregnancies – mother and child; promoting the value of women by rescuing those caught in prostitution and drug addiction; educating students from the philosophy that to learn about the world is to learn about God; working for policies that bring justice to victims of crimes, giving inmates reasons and means not to return, and caring for their children; leading the way in racial reconciliation and working for public policies that support families. Christians serve to restore a world fallen short of how God designed it to be, yet loved by Him none the less because of it.
The world is better off because of believers that follow Jesus. May He grant us courage to continue facing cultural headwinds, as we heed the Savior’s words, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:13,14).