One of the most moving collections of songs for me is "The Jesus Record," by Rich Mullins. Several of Rich's friends had to come in and help complete the album because of his untimely death several years ago. The other morning, I awoke to the tune of one of the most powerful songs in this collection, a tune I hadn't heard in months. The song is entitled "My Deliverer." I wasn't sure why this song was so firmly implanted in my heart at the time, but it was very much with me all that morning. Was this the prompting of the Holy Spirit or did something from my dreams bring this to my conscious thought? I wasn't sure, so I listened to the song to see if something clicked inside me. Mullin's song begins with these words:
Joseph took his wife and her child,
And they went to Africa
To escape the rage of a deadly king.
There along the banks of the Nile,
Jesus listened to the song
That the captive children used to sing.
They were singin' ...
At this point in the song, in the most haunting of voices, a group of children begin singing beautifully, yet longingly:
My Deliverer is coming,
My Deliverer is standing by ...
As soon as I heard the song, it all clicked! I knew why it was there. The word "Africa" and the phrase "My Deliverer is coming ..." helped me make the immediate connection.
Many of you know that, Lord willing, I will be going to Uganda, Africa, in February with Compassion International. Having sponsored a child and seeing this precious young boy's heart in his letters, I don't have to imagine children singing, "My Deliverer is coming ..." His love for Jesus and his tender prayers for us and his concern for his grandparents melts my heart. I know he believes Jesus is his Deliverer. I know our family wants to keep that hope alive. What's more, I know there are literally hundreds of thousands of children who are begging for the Deliverer to come and help them so they can go to school and have enough to eat and hold on to a glimmer of hope for the future.
As is the case for nearly all of us when we were children, to believe in the ultimate Deliverer, we had to experience a more touchable "deliverer." For most of us, this deliverer was a parent or grandparent. They protected and nurtured us and helped us meet Jesus.
Yet for many children — and I'm not just talking about children in third world countries now — their parents are not in a place to function in the role of deliverer, or they have chosen not to function in that role. Yes, Jesus can still be their great Deliverer even if those closest to them do not share him with them, but it much less likely. Over the last decade and more, studies have repeatedly revealed that about 85% of people who come to faith in Jesus do so before they are 18 years old. In other words, if we don't help them come to faith, the likelihood of their ever doing so is small. We are called to be the deliverers for those who have none so they can still know their real Deliverer, their ultimate Deliverer is coming.
In a Psalm requesting God to arise and scatter his enemies, David calls on us all to praise God with these words (Psalm 68:4-6 TNIV).
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him — his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing ...
I don't know about you, but I want children who have very little opportunity to experience the hope and promise of the Great Deliverer to be given that opportunity. I want to be part of the Great Deliverer being a Father to the fatherless and placing the lonely into families. I don't want poverty, where a child is born, or the lack of parents to be the cause of a child missing out on hope and never knowing about Jesus. "But what can I do in the face of so many children worldwide in deep need?"
Of course, this is the very valid question we all ask. I'm hoping you have some suggestions to this to go with the few I list below. The main thing is that we don't just feel overwhelmed and do nothing. Let's find something to do and make a difference:
- Love your children and grandchildren, praying that you can show them Jesus as their ultimate deliverer.
- Personally support, and encourage your church to support, orphan homes, foster care, and services for pregnant women and adoptive parents.
- Demand firm justice in sentencing on child predators and abusers from your lawmakers and protection for the children who have suffered from violence and neglect.
- Be an advocate for children in your community: no matter your political persuasion, demand that we think about children and our elderly as we make public policy and spend our public dollars.
- Volunteer at a local public school as a mentor or tutor or coach for a child, or be a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters — this is especially important after your children are grown.
- And, of course, closest to my heart right now, please prayerfully consider being a sponsor with Compassion International to help provide the basics of necessities and the hope of Jesus for a child in need: http://www.compassion.com
I'd love to hear your ideas on my blog on other ways to help us be a deliverer for children in need so they can ultimately find the great Deliverer. Let me hear from you: http://blogs.heartlight.org/phil/?p=198