Manila is a bustling mega-city of 14 million people. I have been here for seven months, working alongside Cubao Reformed Baptist Church.
God is giving us many evangelistic opportunities each week, but we have seen few conversions from our work. This raises many questions. Here are two that I find challenging.
Firstly, do I really believe? As Christians we can be passionate in arguing about many aspects of the Bible. But do we really believe what we claim to understand? How do we use our knowledge?
Of course, there is a need for more Bible knowledge; but surely there is a greater need to grasp and appreciate the things that we do know.
If we really believed in the God of the Bible, wouldn’t we long that his name be glorified around us? If we really believed in a place called hell, wouldn’t we care more about the billions of people who are heading there?
If we really believed in heaven, wouldn’t we be willing to make sacrifices to reach people with the gospel, knowing that our true treasure will never pass away?
In the middle of our busy lives it is a good idea to stop and consider whether or not we really believe what we claim to.
From the apostles, and down through church history, one thing is clear about those who had great success in sharing the gospel. They really believed what they preached. Are we as confident as they were?
Secondly, do I really care? Here in Cubao we are working with people whose lives are in a complete mess. Many sleep rough. Some are drug addicts. Others cannot read or write. A few have been in prison.
In many ways, if they are converted it will create more problems for us. If a street person is seriously seeking God and comes to church, that person does not magically start smelling nice and immediately behave like a respectable Christian.
It is easy to say we would like to see dirty people being saved. It is harder to sit next to them each week in church.
It is easy to say we want to help people with their problems. It is harder to accept their problems as our own. Are we prepared to have our private lives disrupted and ‘comfort zones’ upset by new Christians who are so different from us?
It is so easy to lament the sad state of the world. But we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask whether we as Christians have a problem.
Maybe George Verwer was uncomfortably close to the truth when he said, ‘The world in which we live is a sick world. It is a world of misery and tragedy such as most of us cannot begin to imagine.
‘Millions are sleeping on pavements, starving to death, knowing nothing of the love of God for them. The church sings, “My Jesus I love you”. And at the same time a couple of thousand people a day slip away into eternity.
‘And we say that we love them. I say we don’t. If we loved them with Christ’s love, we wouldn’t stop until we had sold a million books and distributed a hundred million leaflets and laid down our lives in every kind of service and action to help them.
‘And as we did it, our tears would bathe these lost souls. I know too little about it.’