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War-orphans and the Gospel

by Dan Cruver Published Dec 17, 2009


About this picture:

“War-orphan Faustin Mugisa, 8, who has machete scars on his head and body, stands at the Kizito orphanage in Bunia in northeastern Congo February 24, 2009. Mugisa was left for dead in a pile of corpses when ethnic Lendu militiamen hacked to death his mother and seven siblings in 2003. Mugisa’s father discovered him alive and took him to the bush to recover, but his father was later hacked to death by the same militia group. Ethnic violence has simmered for years in northeastern Congo, part of broader civil and regional conflict currently uprooting hundreds of thousands of Congolese fleeing massacres and reprisal killings by various armed groups roaming the country’s vast and lawless wilds. (REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)”#

If we look at that picture through the lens of the gospel, it should stop us in our tracks, reorient us, and send us out in mission to serve orphaned children like Faustin Mugisa.

I live just a few miles from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. God has placed us in a beautiful area of the country. There is hardly a day that goes by when I don’t thank God for the beautiful scenery that’s just miles from our home. It’s both right and good for us to enjoy this scenery as a good gift from God’s hand.

But what I find is that it doesn’t take much for the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to block my vision of the pain and suffering of orphaned children. Actually, it’s my propensity to self-absorption, not the foothills (or any of God’s other good gifts), that blocks my vision of those in need. My daily challenge is to enjoy the good gifts that God has given me without losing sight of the profound needs that surrounds me.

Thankfully, God has given me the gospel. If we look at pictures like the one above through the lens of the gospel, we are reminded of several reorienting truths:

  • Sin manifests itself in self-absorbed complacency.
  • Self-absorbed complacency is deserving of the wrath of God.
  • Jesus bore the sin of our self-absorbed complacency at the cross.
  • God made Jesus to be sin for us so that the righteousness of Jesus’ others-centered, self-sacrificial love might become ours (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through faith in Jesus we receive a new identity.
  • In our new identity the gospel progressively frees us from our self-absorbed complacency so that we might become in practice who we already are in position.
  • The resurrection of Jesus sets my hope in the renewed world to come and not in my here-and-now comfort.
  • As a result, I can enjoy God’s good gifts in the here-and-now without being blind to the needs of others.

By God’s grace, the gospel stops us in our self-absorbed tracks, reorients us, and sends us out in mission to serve orphaned children like Faustin Mugisa.

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