When my wife Melissa and I started Sterling Grace Community Church, we never conceived of the impact it would have on people’s lives. It is a church plant of VisionAlaska and meets in Sterling. The comment we hear is that people love the church because we teach the Bible and not something else. So much of the Bible is counter-intuitive to the way we humans think. Yet, when we give, we become blessed. When we pray, prayers are answered. When we love and care about others, they are enriched. We then feel the depth of God’s love. We begin to understand the depth of the abundant life Christ promised us.
Over a year ago, an African pastor and director of an impoverished orphanage saw one of my YouTube presentations and contacted me. I soon learned of his rural African congregation in Kenya of 125 people. They meet in a corrugated metal building held up by a wood frame. He and his congregants saw starving little children on the streets. The people of his church sold their cows and built a long mud house with a dirt floor to house 41 orphans.
The children range in age from toddlers to 15 years old. Each of the older ones has great hope for careers as doctors, nurses, pastors, teachers or pilots. The Sterling Grace Community Church stepped in. I coach this pastor often online. Our church provided funds for a water well, so the children do not have to walk for two hours every night to bring back water for the orphanage from a muddy river. Our church bought the adults Bibles in Swahili and the children school books and Bibles in English. The children were suffering from famine, so we leased farmland and bought seed and fertilizer. We bought some clothing and more food.
Today, we are raising funds for an inexpensive brick girl’s dormitory that will be better than the mud house they live in. I am so impressed with this young pastor and his love and compassion for starving orphans. Something else is happening. The traditional enemy of these people is the nearby Masai Tribe. Perhaps you have heard of Masai warriors. But some come to his church and see what God is doing. Now VisionAlaska has helped them acquire land for a new Masai church and Bible Institute for training regional church leaders.
Where do we get compassion? It is said that compassion is sympathy with helpful action. Jesus Christ told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but believers are characterized by fruit of the Spirit as they change and grow deeper in the love of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” Galatians 5:22-23. When we see people in need, God wants us to show our love, peace, endurance, kindness, and goodness.
Whether it is in Africa, Florida or Alaska, let us show our kindness and faithfulness to others in need.
Roger Holl, D.Min. is pastor of Sterling Grace Community Church. The church meets Sunday mornings at 10:30 am at the Sterling Senior Center. All ages are welcome.