Guidelines International Ministries

May 4, 2022

How To Respond To The Pain Of Someone Suffering

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40).

Whenever I go overseas on a mission’s ministry, someone always says, “Hey, can’t you find enough hurting people where you are without going to the trouble and expense of traveling?”

Honestly, since terrorism raised its ugly head in the world, traveling doesn’t get any easier. Being challenged because you left your nail clippers in your hand carry, isn’t always terribly exciting, nor is jet lag, eating food which isn’t what you prefer, and sleeping, at times, only God knows where.

Frankly, closing the door on the needs of the world, saying, “We’ve got enough needs at home without looking beyond our borders” gets pretty enticing! Besides, doesn’t the old aphorism, “Charity begins at home!” appeal to my old nature?

Why bother with the suffering of Afghanistan, the plight of the poor in the Far East, the street children of Venezuela, or the plight of widows in India?

Honesty, confronting this topic isn’t the kind of commentary you normally hear on Guidelines, but it’s been on my mind, perhaps yours as well.  So why bother?

Do you remember the story of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar? It takes up a considerable amount of print in John’s Gospel. This woman was a social outcast, an easy mark who slept around. Furthermore, she was a half-breed, partly Jew and partly Gentile. And—like it or not—she was a woman, which in the cultural context of Jesus’ day meant she didn’t count for much.

Yet Jesus interfaced with her, meeting her needs, accepting her as a person of value and worth.  Furthermore, Jesus challenged His disciples to go into all the world. As He sent them out on short-term ministries, He instructed them to bring healing and help to the sick, the afflicted, the hurting, and the neglected, thereby giving us an example to follow.

When part of my physical body hurts, it all hurts; and when God’s children are in pain or hurt, no matter where they are, it’s my concern, as well, when I take seriously the reality that God’s children are a family which knows no race, no color, no nationality, or no division.

Paul made it clear that the poor of Jerusalem were to be fed and taken care of by all the churches he visited. He also made provision for the widows who were widows indeed and had no family to care for them.

Yes, I understand there is the possibility that those in need become dependent upon the hand-out of their more affluent brothers, becoming lazy and ungrateful in the process; yet accepting nationals as brothers and sisters, partners in the faith, and equals in the sight of God, means my gift is God’s provision, an answer to their prayers, not a hand-out which makes them dependent upon me and subservient to the dictates of my will.

Subsidizing and helping support a national who is struggling to be independent and self-sustaining is no substitute for responding to the command of Jesus: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News!” but it enables my brother to fix his teeth, perhaps buy an antibiotic for the infection which has caused his baby’s feet to swell, or perhaps get medical care, saving his wife and mother of his children.

When Bob Pierce picked up an orphan child in Korea and took him to an orphanage asking that he be fed and sheltered, the sisters explained that four people were eating out of every rice bowl. Picking up the child, she placed him in Bob’s lap asking, “Here, what will you do with him?”  In answering that question, World Vision was founded.


Resource reading: Matthew 25:34-46