“In missionary work the great danger is that God’s call will be replaced by the needs of the people, to the point that human sympathy for those needs will absolutely overwhelm the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, and the conditions so difficult, that every power of the mind falters and fails. We tend to forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary work is not primarily the elevation of the people, their education, nor their needs, but is first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ— ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . .'”
~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
There is no doubt that the physical needs of the poor are very great, and in many places life threatening, but these needs should never supersede the preaching of the Gospel. There are plenty of NGOs that can dig wells and deliver bags of rice… and I’m not denying that Christians can and should do that as well… but what the NGOs can’t do is to save the soul from eternal death.
Yes, we should be “giving a cup of cold water in my name” and expressing our faith through our actions, but it should never be without the message of God’s forgiveness which brings spiritual hope and eternal life to dead souls. It is not a one or the other proposal, but indeed one is more necessary than the other. One is more vitally important, in the Grand Scheme of things. One has eternal significance, the other temporal. We should never forget that the message of the Cross IS a spring of living water welling up inside of all who receive Jesus’s words. Come to Jesus, all who hunger and thirst! Come and be filled, forever.
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ” Revelation 7:17