Recently I decided to renovate the living room of our old terrace house. I painted the ceiling and replaced the ugly and dated lights. I took down the faded curtains and put up roller blinds. I spent hours on the walls—sanding off flaking paint, filling the many dents and holes, resanding, then applying multiple coats of new paint. A cement slab in the corner was removed and new tiles were laid. The fireplace also needed to be replaced. Finally, I sanded back the skirting boards and repainted them with gloss. It was hard work, but I felt proud of the changes I saw each day.
After I moved to Africa, a couple living in the US contacted me and said, “We’d like to make a financial contribution to help you with your ministry in Uganda.” Because my job at the time didn’t require that I raise funds, I thanked them but declined their generous offer.
On October 31, 2003, 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off the North Shore in Hawaii. Bethany survived, but she lost her left arm and more than 60 percent of her blood in the assault.
After Nelson Mandela’s death at the end of 2013, many stories surfaced of his genuine concern for others. In 1950s Apartheid South Africa, Mandela once saw a white woman standing beside her broken car in Johannesburg. Approaching her, he offered help and was able to fix the car.
The UK foot-and-mouth-disease epidemic in 2001 wrought more destruction to the British farming community than any event in history. Some believers prayed that Christian farmers would be miraculously protected, while others prayed that their witness for Jesus would be strong, no matter what happened.
When my twin sister and I were 5 years old, we began counting the money we had in our piggybanks. It turned out that one of us had more than the other. To our young minds, this just wasn’t right. So, we decided to balance our accounts by helping ourselves to our mother’s money!
On the occasion of billionaire Ted Turner’s 75th birthday last year, a CNN profile opened with these poignant words: “What will matter most about Ted Turner’s life story when they roll the final credits? That he started the first 24-hour news network? Built a fortune once worth $10 billion? Was Time magazine’s Man of the Year? Received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame? Made The New York Times best-seller list? Maybe it was that time he raced a sailboat faster than anyone else. Or the year his baseball team won the World Series. Impressed yet?”
When Peter brought the gospel to the Gentiles, he told Cornelius the story of Jesus. He explained how the Savior traveled throughout Judea healing people and casting out demons, died on the cross and rose again, and then appeared to His disciples and commanded them to tell everyone He was Israel’s Messiah. And right in the middle Peter added, “We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:41).
At the beginning of the classic book The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins was enjoying a comfortable and predictable life in his home in the Shire—until the mysterious Gandalf dropped in for a surprise visit. Gandalf turned to Bilbo and said, “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.” Bilbo replied, “I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! We don’t want any adventures here, thank you.”
While I was helping to organize donations of clothing for a church event, I paused to touch a cashmere sweater’s soft grey cloth. When I realized it would fit me, I considered the possibility of owning it—for free! Volunteers were allowed first dibs on the donations. Cashmere is an expensive fabric, and although I have enough sweaters, this one was calling my name. After some inner turmoil, I finally offered the item to a fellow worker, who joyfully accepted it.
As Peter was waiting for lunch, he slipped into a trance and saw a sheet drop from the sky full of unclean animals. The image must have startled him—Why was a good Jew like him having a filthy dream like this? What he heard next shocked him: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean” (Acts 10:13-14).