Introducing the Good Shepherd
“Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40
“The view from the mountain is beautiful, but the climb is difficult,” Xu Wei thought to himself as he labored up the mountainside to his home village. The combined effects of old age and a childhood case of polio that left him lame in one of his legs made the journey especially arduous.
Xu Wei, who belongs to one of China’s minority people groups, has lived all his life in a remote mountain village in western China. He is poor and illiterate, just like all the other adults in the village. Some of the children—who may attend school up to third grade in a nearby village—can read a little.
One day a group of Chinese and foreign visitors came to the village. “How did they find us up here?” Xu Wei wondered. The village was one of the last remaining settlements on the mountain as the government was trying to get villagers to move to the city in the valley below. Xu Wei wouldn’t mind relocating, actually, but could not afford to do so.
The team of Chinese and foreigners offered to help Xu Wei’s village. With one of the greatest needs being literacy, the Chinese—at the request of the village’s leader—started a weekly class teaching the villagers how to read Mandarin. Every weekend, the team traversed up the mountain, taught classes and spent the night in the village.
The team also started a sheep loan project for the village. As the people in the village raised the sheep, they could keep any lambs born and sell them for income. Xu Wei and the other villagers agreed this was a good plan and began caring for the sheep. Thankfully, there was plenty of grazing land for the sheep to eat.
The bond between the villagers and team quickly grew. The village appreciated the team’s genuine concern for them. The quality of life in the village improved.
Over time, the team shared why they wanted to help the people of the village. They were compelled to do good to others because of God’s love for them—and all people—they said. When they stayed in the villagers’ homes, they shared stories from their holy book, the Bible, about a Savior named Jesus. They sometimes prayed to Jesus for Xu Wei and other sick or ailing members of the village. Amazingly, Xu Wei’s leg began feeling better.
Xu Wei, who became the group’s main contact in the village, found the message intriguing. The visitors eventually gave Xu Wei a copy of the Jesus film, which he watched intently … and repeatedly. In fact, he watched the film so much that he memorized large portions of it. He even wondered if the movie’s message was true—that Jesus really was God and the Savior of the world.
- Ask for God to grant those involved in community development in China with compassion and creativity as to how to provide long-term viable aid.
- Pray for open doors to share the gospel in impoverished and overlooked communities. May people’s hearts be soft toward the life-giving message of God’s grace.
- Pray for development and relief efforts on the part of Christian workers to be effective in alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life of those they serve.