Graham Staines left his Australian homeland in 1965 to minister to the least in India—the lepers and tribal poor. His goal: to demonstrate God’s love. The Least of These, a film based on his life, premiered this week: showing him tending the wounds of lepers, traveling to jungle camps. Even more, he contributed to translating the New Testament into the Ho language of India, and proofread the entire text. He met Jesus often along the way, since “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Jesus, in Matthew 25:40).
But on the night of January 22, 1999, a mob of 50 people, encouraged by hardline Hindus, attacked Staines and his two sons, burning them to death in their station wagon and preventing their escape with axes.
Our church has entered a “go” mode. Our small group attended the premier, and it challenged my comfort zone deeply. It challenged my measured obedience. It challenged my preoccupation with my own desires and choices, including how I serve God. It challenged the core of my faith.
Now, the challenge for you all. No, not necessarily to go to India. But first, to see the film when it’s released. And as you watch, listen for how God might be challenging you. The film abounds in layers of meaning and challenge. I suspect God’s whisper will differ for each of us.
That we actively love all people, including the lowest. That we serve people, even when it costs. That we’re willing to sacrifice, perhaps even our lives. That we forgive, even when it’s most difficult. That we commit to the truth, even when it disrupts our lives.
The result? We meet Jesus. In this life. Not a bad trade.
Kick Starting the Application
Think about those you typically encounter. Do you focus mostly on those like you? Are you interacting with “the least?” What keeps you from that? Can you sense God nudging you to embark on a fresh way of serving people, or maybe increasing what you do? Will you ask God for the courage to follow his leading?
After the movie, our group decided to take food and church to a group of homeless people in our town. A hot breakfast by the library, a brief time of praising God. Feel free to share any new steps you’ll be taking to serve the least, perhaps on this blog, perhaps on Facebook.