Changing the World
When I was a young man I wanted to change the whole world, then as I matured it gradually dawned on me that I might not necessarily be a world changer. Yet at the time I gradually began to realise that I could possibly change the world for some specific individuals, some specific groups of people, some specific communities- and that’s what gets me out of bed each morning!
One of my favourite passages from the Bible comes in Acts chapter 16 when the apostle Paul is leading his mission team and their focus and direction completely changes due to a vision Paul has:
During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16.9
Paul takes notice of this vision, reroutes his team, and shapes history! This Bible story is known as the Macedonian call, and if you read the rest of chapter 16 and onwards you will see as a result of Paul’s obedience there are some specific lives totally transformed- Lydia the wealthy trader, A slave girl, and a jailer’s whole family. There are also some larger effects- the church in Macedonia gives generously to the church in Jerusalem suffering from famine, and the message of Jesus goes from Turkey to Greece, from East to West and into Europe.
The reason this incident is one of my favourite Bible passages, is that I’ve committed to apply it practically in my own life. The way I’ve done this is to be open to hearing ‘Come over here and help us’. As a result my wife and I now have long-term friendships and partnerships with a few specific couples around the world- India, Liberia, Israel, and yes Macedonia!- where we help them transform their communities and the lives of individuals in need. I believe these friendships are God-given and we have committed to remain in relationship with these folk for the long-term.
As a result, I’m helping change the world of hundreds of children in rural villages in Andhra Pradesh India, I’m part of changing the world for disillusioned young adults in Liberia, I’ve got friends in Macedonia planting churches, I’m developing a new friendship with a husband and wife team reaching out to families with disabled children in the volatile Palestinian West Bank territories inside Israel. I visit each of these people for short trips, but whilst the trips might be short the relationships are long-term.
My wisdom for those of you reading this is simple- you can change the world for an individual or a community somewhere in this world if you are simply open to hearing that simple request- ‘Come over here and help us’. That request might come to you in a real conversation with a real person, it might come by watching a film online, or by reading a book, or hearing a sermon, or by attending a conference, it might come in a dream like it did for the apostle Paul. What’s been so exciting for me is that sometimes when I share my story of partnerships in India, or Macedonia, or Israel or Liberia, people hear me talk and sense they are being invited to ‘come over here and help us’ too-so many friends of mine also have a shared sense of support for one or other of the people and projects my wife and I are part of.
Listen out for who might be asking you to ‘come over here and help us’- that request will change your life and transform someone’s world. The journey might be scary, demanding, costly, but it will undoubtedly be thrilling, fruitful and fulfilling.