awake, noel yeatts

I was talking about human trafficking recently with a small group of friends. One of the things that stood out most in that conversation was the lack of awareness regarding the scope of the issue. Few realized how close to home it hit for many of us. And it’s not just the popular sex trafficking issue so many are talking about. It’s also the migrant worker being exploited at many of the orange groves and tomato farms in our area.

When you become aware of a problem, you are suddenly accountable to do something about it. [Click to tweet!]

That’s what I love about Noel Yeatts’ story as told in her book Awake: Doing a WORLD of Good One Person at a Time. Noel has been around the poor, the orphaned, and the hurting for much of her life. These experience have forced her to open her eyes, and she’s been unable to turn away from it.

This week it’s my turn to discuss a couple chapters in a great online study/discussion on the book. If you haven’t seen it yet, then this should catch you up with those who have gone before me in the series:

So I’m up next, and I’m talking about chapters 7 and 8. Both of these chapters cover topics that I’m extremely passionate about.

Chapter 7: Crystal Clear

awake, clean water

Here’s the deal. Most of us know that clean water is important. Some may not realize the full scope of how important it really is. I’m not going to throw out the numbers here. A little big of Google searching and reading this chapter will give you more than enough information about the realities that surround the issue of clean water (or lack thereof).

It’s not only about dehydration.

It’s about malnutrition.

It’s about hygiene.

It’s about the spread of deadly disease.

My favorite part about this chapter was the Biblical perspective I found here. Seriously, you’re at BibleDude.net right now. What else would you expect to be my favorite part? Here’s what Noel shared that resonated with me:

But it picked up the story where Abraham had to send Hagar and Ishmael away. He sends them off with one container of food and one of water.

They leave but quickly end up lost in the wilderness. They soon run out of water, and Ishmael gets sick. It is interesting that the Bible says they run out of water but not food. You see, food is not always the issue, even today. Without clean water, food cannot be absorbed and digested properly, and children can still get sick and die. And that is just what happens with Ishmael.

The story continues with Hagar praying to God for her son not to die.

And then–this is the part I love–God sends an angel to Hagar and opens her eyes. When she looks up, she sees a well full of clean water. You know, God could have just taken her empty water container and filled it back up. But he gave her more than a short-term solution. He provided a long-term solution to an immediate need.

This story is full of implications for us today as we seek solutions for those who lack basic necessities like clean water. It’s not enough to simply refill the empty bottle. We must think long-term when bringing solutions.

Especially for the issues as problematic as the lack of clean water.

Chapter 8: Saving a Dead Man

awake,

AND.

There, I said it. That’s what this chapter is about.

So there’s this prevailing idea in much of the church that our missional and outreach efforts should focus primarily on evangelization. And people who feel this way are often critical of those who focus on the injustices first as not doing enough to meet the spiritual needs. As is usually the case with seemingly opposing ideas, the two camps can end up on extreme ends of this discussion.

Noel expresses that both are possible, and necessary. At the same time.

I couldn’t agree more.

Check this…

All around the world, people are trapped in the burning building of poverty, hunger, disease, abuse, slavery, and spiritual darkness. Their worlds are burning down around them. We have many options for how to help. But I choose to start by saving their lives, because in the end, you can’t save a dead man.

Yep. It’s hard to argue with that reasoning.

When I study the Christian Church in the first few centuries, one of the reasons for the rapid growth it experienced was the care Christians had for others when disease and plagues came around. These Christians never went in to these areas on evagelistic crusades. They went in because of the value they put on other human life, the same value God puts on all human life. And it was when the sick were restored to health that the acceptance of the Christian faith would happen.

So should we meet spiritual needs or physical needs? How about we meet spiritual needs AND physical needs. Isn’t that the model Jesus set for us?

Here are a few questions to consider:

  1. The tragedy of unsafe water affects approximately one billion people around the world, yet it seems to be a problem that escapes the public eye. Before reading Awake, were you aware of this issue?
  2. Why do you think so many Christ followers struggle finding the balance between meeting physical needs and evangelism? Why is this balance so crucial?

I encourage you to follow through with the rest of this online study/discussion:

 

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Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

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