Thursday, July 19, 2007
This summer I have had the privilege to preach the Sunday night worship service at our church. I had never preached through a whole book before and so after dad and I talked about it, I picked the book of James. Little did I know how much impact it would have on me, and how much of it I would see being played out in Africa. A couple weeks ago, I preached on James 1:27, which says, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Two things exegetically about the passage. The word for religion is misleading because of the negative way we use religion. The word could and maybe should be translated "worship." So pure worship is to take care of the orphans and widows. The picture there is the most helpless in society. One of the applications you can make is that an unborn baby is the most helpless in our society, which I agree with. But you cannot stop there. There are many in our country who are helpless and need the whole gospel. I had read this passage many, many times and it never hit me though until I visited Africa. There were two ladies over there named Hellena and Leonora who work for an organization called WOFAK, which I've talked about in a previous post. They run a place for orphans and kids whose parents are bedridden with HIV/AIDS to come and get a meal. Because of the stigmatism that goes along with the disease, many of these kids sneak in through the ally way to get their meal so that no one would see them. One of the women, Leonora, has actually adopted and taken in eight of the orphans to be her own. Everyday they face and work with orphans, widows, those who are so sick they cannot even get out of bed. Hellena says that sometimes she even curses God for what she sees. But then they will see a smile from a boy or girl who has been hungry, or for the first time in months, an HIV victim get out of bed and go to work. Then Hellena says, she can do nothing but praise God because of the hope that is there. That is worship, that is religion that is worth something!