12 Apr Fighting Together
As a child, the first songs that I remember singing at church are “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Each week in Sunday School, we would stand in a straight line and sing those two songs. Then the teacher would remind us how much Jesus loved us.
A few years later, however, I remember hearing the hymn, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and then learning “I’m in the Lord’s Army” in children’s choir. As a child, I was very confused. How could a soldier and an army spread love? How could I be a part of that?
Recently, a group from Grace returned from Nicaragua where they served as medical and teaching missionaries. They were soldiers in His army, spreading the love of Jesus to people in a remote village. Others from our church have served as soldiers to Allendale, Eleuthera, Kenya, and even Papua New Guinea. All of those Christians had willing hearts. God sent them beyond the comfort of their communities. He used them as soldiers in His army to spread the love of Jesus. But, what about those of us who have never gone on a mission trip? Are we soldiers in His army?
Just as God is omnipresent, so are the needs for the cause of Christ. He commanded us in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” You do not have to leave your hometown to make disciples of all nations. People from all nationalities are at our children’s schools, in the grocery store, and at the gas station. They are right here among us, and we have been commanded to share with them the love of Jesus Christ. You do not have to have any special training as a soldier would. All you need is a willing heart, and God can use you as soldier in His army. Think of David and Goliath. David was a soldier in God’s army, and he ran toward his assignment. Can you say the same?
“All you need is a willing heart, and God can use you as soldier in His army.”
I was given a new assignment in God’s army about two months ago. I now work for a ministry whose mission is to encourage, educate, and empower people in need through the love of Jesus Christ. There are many facets to our ministry and numerous volunteers are needed. Without these selfless workers, our ministry would not be possible.
Everyday I have a front seat to see how God turns willing hearts into soldiers for His cause. One day, I was overwhelmed with all that needed to be done before the end of the day. I received a phone call and thirty minutes later 21 high school students—or rather soldiers—arrived, eager to help. I was astounded! In my time of need, God provided 21 hours of labor! Before I even knew I had the need, God used willing hearts to provide an army of soldiers for His cause. Another day I was unsure of how we were going to get everything done that day. But, God never fails! His workers trickled in, little by little, and by the end of the day, He had provided a total of eight volunteer soldiers for our ministry. One of them even said to me, “God impressed on my heart to come in and help you today.” This is not a rare occurrence—it happens day-in and day-out. I am most blessed to be a witness to how God uses willing hearts in His work.
One of my “regular” volunteers comes in 1-2 times per week. She is the “shoe lady”. She handles every pair of shoes donated to our store. Most of these shoes have seen better days. Some have holes. Some have rips. Some have the soles pulling apart and many are stained. Others have been worn only once—perhaps to a wedding or to a special event. Some of the shoes do not even have mates and are placed in a box that says: “I need a friend.” But, regardless, this volunteer soldier handles each and every shoe, inspecting it carefully. This is not a pleasant job. Many shoes have odors and debris on the soles. But, this does not dissuade the “shoe lady”. She will spend 2-6 hours per week on this most unpleasant task, knowing every shoe has a story to tell. I am very thankful for the “shoe lady”. No one wants to step into her volunteer position. Who would? But, this is the position she chose as a soldier in His army, all to encourage, educate, and empower people in need through the love of Jesus Christ. The most amazing thing to me about the “shoe lady” is that she could just as easily choose to support our ministry financially. Instead, she intentionally opts to put herself in the trenches and put in time and effort for the cause. That is what I call “wholehearted” support—that is support that comes from a willing heart. Just as Paul called Epaphroditus a “true brother, coworker, and fellow soldier” in Philippians 2:25, the “shoe lady” is truly an Epaphroditus.
“Many shoes have odors and debris on the soles. But, this does not dissuade the “shoe lady”. She will spend 2-6 hours per week on this most unpleasant task, knowing every shoe has a story to tell.”
Are you a fellow soldier in the work for His cause? All you need is a willing heart. God may impress upon you to make a phone call, write a card, blow off a sidewalk, take a meal, or pick up a neighbor for church. He may impress upon you to go to Nicaragua or Kenya. Or, maybe He wants you to be a “shoe lady”. Whatever your calling, God will use your willing heart to carry out His work. Be an intentional Epaphroditus—a “true brother, coworker, and fellow soldier” for the cause of Christ.
Julie Cheek loves card games, all things vintage, and storytelling. Many of her stories involve cooking–like the time she unknowingly roasted a bird for Thanksgiving, when a hawk fell down her chimney and into a furnace pipe. Julie attends the Powdersville campus and works for the Dream Center of Pickens County, neither of which ask her to prepare food.