by Gwen Shaw
A few days before Passover, Good Friday, 2002, I spent some days in a hospital in Jerusalem, Israel. During that time there was a lot of terrorist activity in the city. Palestinian suicide bombers were blowing themselves up and killing dozens in an unprecedented evil wave of terror and violence all over Jerusalem. People’s hearts were filled with fear. No one was safe, not even the Palestinians themselves, because the terrorists did not stop to think that one of their own people might be riding in the bus, shopping in the market, or walking in the street, or eating in the café that had been marked as the next “ground zero.” Hate makes people crazy.
I lay awake throughout the day and many nights in my bed, listening to the wailing of the sirens, as ambulances and emergency vehicles rushed to the latest “scene from hell.” I could picture pieces of flesh spattered all over the place, on floors, walls or buildings, a leg here, an arm there, a skull, and even a beating heart.
Yes, a beating heart!
THE BEATING HEART
After one of the terrible suicide bombings took place in Tel Aviv this amazing story came out over the Internet from the Jerusalem Post. I want to share it with you:
“When the smoke cleared from the explosion, Jacob Heyn saw a heart, still beating, lying on the sidewalk amidst the shattered glass. ‘There was no body, just a heart, beating. I didn’t think such a thing could happen. But I saw it and others saw it,’ he said.
“At about 1 p.m. yesterday [19 September, 2002] the 87-year-old man had been standing with his son in front of a bookstore his family owns on Rehov Allenby in Tel Aviv. The store was filled with displays of children’s books. It was a normal day on a busy street. He noticed nothing out of the ordinary until a suicide bomber blew himself up while standing on the steps of a No. 4 Dan Bus as it moved down the street. Five people were killed, including the bus driver, and more than 60 were wounded.
“‘Glass shards fell on me,’ Heyn said, ‘I was covered with smoke and dust. I looked to see what happened to me, but I was not hurt.’ The bus continued to travel a short distance. A body was lying on the sidewalk. Later someone told me the man was dead. I saw a man walking covered with blood. Then the ambulances came. I went into the store. People were frightened. They were hysterical and crying.’
“Police suspect that the bomber blew himself up upon entering the bus because the driver became suspicious. One witness, who believes she saw the bomber, said, ‘I was surprised, because he was wearing a long black blazer that was buttoned up on a hot day. I said to myself, “There is a suspicious man on the bus.” and then there was an explosion.’
“Zvi Rabonovitch, who runs an electricity store nearby, said, ‘I saw people jumping from the windows.’ Devorah, who lives on the street, said, ‘The bus driver was slumped in his seat with his head against the front window; there were pieces of flesh all around, and people were screaming.’
“The blast scorched the bus and blew out its windows. One man with blood over his bare chest was wheeled away by paramedics. Another man sat on the sidewalk, crying.
“Roni Rejwan said he entered the bus and saw many of the wounded and bodies. ‘I took off my shirt and used it as a bandage to help them,’ he said.
“Yaffa Avraham, 56, said she had taken a break from work and was standing outside when she saw the bus. ‘People yelled, “Help me! Help me!” One woman was banging on the window trying to get out. I wanted to help, but I couldn’t. That is what hurts me. I tried to move, I couldn’t. It felt like my legs could not hold me. All of a sudden I fainted,” she said.
“She woke up in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, where she lay on a gurney, still shaking, waiting for her husband to call.
“Also lying on a gurney and wearing a hospital gown, Carmit Ovadia, 24, held up a silver star of David her mother made for her. ‘This is what saved me,’ she said. ‘God watched over me because of the necklace.’ There were still streaks of blood on her bare feet.”
“She had been on the No. 4 bus for several stops. ‘I was getting ready to get off, so I went to the front of the bus,’ she said. ‘I was standing near the door. The bus had stopped by the light. Suddenly there was blood and glass everywhere. The bus was black and smoky. I understood there had been a terrorist attack. I was still standing. People were grasping at my arms and legs. They were wounded. They didn’t want to let me go. I was trying to escape, but they held me back. A man outside yelled at me to get out. I said, ‘I can’t, they won’t let me go.’ He helped me escape through the window.’
“She lay on the sidewalk. Someone gave her water. She called her mother and told her she had been in the attack. She was wounded slightly from the flying glass. On the table next to her, she kept an inch-long thick green shard, ‘It was still stuck in my clothing when I got here,’ Ovadia said. When her mother arrived at the hospital she immediately put her hand on Ovadia’s necklace and said, ‘This is what saved you.’
“Among those who raced to the scene to help was Boaz Shabu, who lost his wife, Rachel, and three of his sons in a terrorist attack on Itamar in July. He had been visiting one of his sons who is still hospitalized at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, when he heard the attack. He immediately jumped into his car and raced to the scene to help.
“‘I carry a first aid kit with me,’ said Shabu, who volunteers with the Judea and Samaria Rescue Service. ‘I saw one man who had been hit by shrapnel.’ Shabu said he was initially concerned about going to the scene of an attack after his own experiences. ‘But at the moment I heard about the attack, all I could think about was trying to save as many people as possible,’ he said. ‘Afterwards there is time for thoughts and soul searching.’
“Back on the street, several hours later, a crowd had gathered by the site of the attack. Workmen were cleaning up the bookstore, which had lost all of its glass windows. Holes and cracks dotted the window of a nearby piano store.
“A few stores up from the site, Heyn had returned to work. Although the larger bookstore he opened nine years ago was closed due to the damage, the small one he had run for 50 years was still intact. An army veteran, he was disturbed by the attack, but it didn’t stop him from his normal routine. Customers stopped by to make sure he was safe. ‘I come here every day starting at 6 a.m.’ Heyn said, ‘This wasn’t the first attack here, and it won’t be the last.’”
CAN a heart still beat out of the body?
This story has haunted me ever since I read it. Could it be true? Could a heart still beat after it is out of the body? Last week I got the answer.
I was in the hospital here in Northwest Arkansas undergoing surgery to have my old pacemaker replaced for a new one. Before the surgery I underwent many different tests, sonograms, echograms, whatever. I can’t even remember their names. I lay in bed watching the powerful beats of my heart, listening to the strong, thump, thump, thumping, as my heart was being “charged” by electrical impulses from the old pacemaker that was running out of battery power, and could stop at any moment. When I discussed it with the technician he told me that my heart was a machine in itself. It was a powerful pump that worked of its own accord sending the blood throughout the body.
I told him the story about the beating heart. He replied that this could happen for a very brief moment of time. He believed me.
When he left the room I lay there wondering about it. Whose heart was it? Was it the heart of the young man who killed himself in his rage to kill others, or did it belong to an innocent victim of another man’s madness and rage? I decided that was the most probable answer, because the heart of the suicide terrorist would have been blown to bits by the explosive device that he carried over his heart.
Maybe we do not have sticks of dynamite on our hearts, but if we have grudges, hatred, unforgiveness and bitterness it can be just as deadly to us, and we will destroy ourselves in our efforts to destroy another.
As I lay in the hospital bed here in Arkansas I thought back on how, less than a year earlier, I had been lying on my hospital bed in Jerusalem, listening to the dreadful sounds coming through my window of the “terror by night and the arrow that flieth by day” (Psalm 91:5). I remembered how in those many hours when I had been alone, I had a great opportunity to pray. (Usually I am talking to the Lord most of the time. He and I have a running conversation.) But this was different. The Holy Spirit began to show me what I had never seen before, and it gave me a great burden; but the burden was not so much for Israel, as what it was for the Palestinians, moreover it was for the young suicide bombers. In the spirit I saw how they were brainwashed and “conscripted” by their cruel leaders into “volunteering” to be the next one to blow themselves to pieces with promises of becoming “heroic martyrs” for their cause, and receive “rewards of virgins who would be their eternal love-slaves.” And if that wasn’t enough, they promised large sums of money to their families, so they would know that their family would be rewarded for their “heroic deed.” I could feel the pressure they were under, the fear of death, the hopelessness and despair, and the inner knowing that they dared not refuse, for if they did, they would end up dead anyway, and that without any of the benefits!
Most of these suicide “martyrs” have no future anyway: little education, no employment, no hope for improvement, nothing to live for. Some of the young women who have been suicide bombers have volunteered because of unhappy relationships with men in their lives. I grieved because I saw them as victims too, victims of a religious madness born in the bowels of Hell for the destruction of lives, anyone’s life. The devil didn’t care who he killed, Jew or Arab, it was all the same to him, for he had come to kill, steal and destroy. He laughed when he succeeded in killing one of his deceived “martyrs” who had faithfully followed his lies to the eternal damnation of his soul.
I prayed for them all with tears, asking the true God to reveal Himself to them so that they could know that the one they call Allah is not our Heavenly Father Who “sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). I knew that if they really met Him they could never kill another Jew.
I prayed too for Israel who has tried so hard to make peace with the Palestinian people. They have trusted in man, compromised their convictions, given away Judea, Samaria, and many parts of the land that is their inheritance from God, and still have no peace. And neither can there be peace without the Prince of Peace. He alone can give peace between these two brothers for the Word of God says, “For he [Jesus] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (Ephesians 2:14), but both the Jew and the Moslem have rejected Him.
It was during this time that one night I had a dream.
In my dream I was sitting in a large auditorium filled with people. I was wearing a suit, the jacket of which was green and the skirt black or dark navy. I did not have one like that, but later the identical jacket I wore in the dream was given to me as a gift.
I was sitting about five rows from the front, in an aisle seat, on the right side facing the platform. I turned around to look at the crowd that had assembled and was amazed to realize that all of them were there because of me. Somewhere, sometime in my lifetime, my life had touched their lives. My ministry had in some way impacted their lives. But suddenly I realized that none of them chose to recognize me. It was as though they didn’t want to have anything to do with me because it would be an embarrassment to them. It was better for them if they pretended they did not even know who I was (like Peter, when he denied that he knew the Lord Jesus). He even cursed and swore at those who accused him of being one of the Lord’s disciples. Mark 14:71 records that Peter lied, “I know not this man of whom ye speak.”
I looked up at the platform. There were about twelve men sitting there in a semicircle behind the pulpit. I knew that I should be sitting up there. My first thought was that they did not realize I was there, and therefore they had not invited me to the platform. So, innocently, I walked up on the platform, but the chairs were all filled, and no one stood up to give me a seat. I knew then that not only were the people rejecting me, the leaders were too!
As I hesitated for a moment, wondering what I should do, a man from among the leaders stepped up to the podium and, with a mocking and accusing voice said, “I have proof against you.” In his hand he held a bundle of photos.
“Show me your proof!” I said. He held out the bundle of photos in front of me, and commanded, “Look!”
Right on the top was a photo of the man, himself (I could recognize it to this day, as I know who he was). In the photo of himself there was a large serpent wrapped around his chest about three or more times. He had not intended for me to see it. As I looked at the rest of the photos, they were pictures of me with groups of people where I had ministered in the nations, such as Indonesia, Malaysia. All of them were people of oriental facial features. Most of them were women and teen-aged girls who had sometime in the past begged to take a picture with me. This often happens. People like a souvenir of the missionary. I could not recognize or even remember who these people were. There wasn’t one thing in that pile of pictures that was in any way incriminating; instead they all were proof that I had served God in the nations.
I returned to my seat. But I was thinking, “Why am I here? These people don’t love me. They don’t want me! I might as well leave.” I stood up and walked quickly out of the building. I ran out to the street, caught a passing taxi and returned to where I was staying.
Soon after, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find a delegation from the “church” I had just left. I wondered why they had come to see me.
“We have come to ask you to come back and be our pastor,” they said.
“Why do you want me now, when you just rejected me?” I asked.
“We need you!” they answered.
I thought for a moment, praying for God to show me what to do, and then I answered, “I’ll come, but first you must do two things. One, you have to change the location of the church, and two: You must change the name of the church. From now on it will be called, “The Church Of the Open Arms.”
With that, I woke up. I lay a long time in my hospital bed thinking about the dream. Then I wrote it down so that I would not forget it. I knew it had a message to my heart and to the CHURCH of Jesus Christ in general.
HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED REJECTION?
Many of God’s most faithful servants have suffered rejection from the very same people whom they loved and ministered to. I know of pastors who have founded and built up churches, loved and shepherded their flocks, only to be rejected later by the very ones who were their spiritual children.
I have gone through this heart-breaking experience myself more than once. I know what it is like when “traitors…having a form of godliness…creep into houses [ministries], and lead captive silly women” [and not a few men], who are lured away because they have been enticed through flattery, pride, physical attraction, false promises of personal gain, and other sins (2 Timothy 3:6).
Shepherds of the Lord’s flock have phoned me, or come to me after hearing me preach on this subject, weeping out the anguish of their broken hearts, “Sister Gwen, you have just told my life story. I built up a church from its beginning, only to be thrown out.” Some were told that they were dismissed as of last Sunday, and would not be able to even stand up in the church and tell the people goodbye. Others were told they had thirty days to get out of the parsonage which they had built with their own hands. Hearts are broken, churches are split, the angels weep, and Satan laughs in triumph because he had cut off the arms of one of his enemies, “The Church of the Open Arms.”
Only through prayer, fasting, and the help of the Holy Spirit can the one who has been so cruelly abused be able to forgive and not allow a spirit of bitterness to enter his heart. Satan often succeeds in destroying the innocent leader of the ministry through bitterness of the soul. Betrayal is a hard thing to overcome. One can easily lose confidence in all men when one has been cruelly rejected by their nearest and dearest in God’s house. I had one man of God tell me from his heart, “Love them all, but trust none.” I ask you, “Does this really have to be? Is there no one on earth that we can ever trust again — no one but Jesus?”
In my dream all the people were a blur; I recognized none of them, except one — the one who brought the accusation against me, whose photo I accidentally happened to see as he held it in his hands. I will never forget how the serpent was wrapped around his chest.
When I awoke I understood why that one had tried to destroy me. He was a captive of the “old serpent, called the Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). And I could forgive. When we “find our enemy in the spirit,” and understand why they do what they do, we can be freed of bitterness, grudges, anger, hatred, and other evils that would destroy us. [See Knowing One Another in the Spirit, page ad3.]
Jesus was able to rise above His enemies when He cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” He died with His arms stretched out to the whole world — even to His enemies. He is the Head of the “Church of the Open Arms.”
Over the great city of Rio de Janeiro, on a high hill, is a magnificent huge statue of Jesus Christ. I have walked all the way to the top of the hill and stood at His feet, looking up at Him as He towers over the city. He gives the city its distinction. In the world today with its many great harbour cities, Rio de Janeiro alone stands out as the City of the Saviour, as He stands there with His loving arms outstretched, saying to the city, to the country of Brazil, and to all the world, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
GOD DOES NOT HATE OUR ENEMIES
God does not hate His enemies; He loves them, and if we are to be like Jesus, we must forgive and love them also. That does not mean that we should cuddle up to a serpent, but it does mean that we should keep our hearts from hatred.
We have the mistaken way of thinking that if anyone loves us they should love our friends and hate our enemies. But Jesus taught us a different Gospel: He said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Many of us work so hard at “loving our enemies” for God’s sake, and because Jesus told us to do so. But there is another reason for loving our enemies, and that is because Love is powerful. It is the greatest shield over the heart and soul that one can have. Perfect love is a shield between us and those who would do us harm.
We are very emotional people. Our “ups” are high and our “lows” are low. As a result, we are controlled by our human emotions rather than the Word and Will of God. We need to study to be like Jesus. He wants us to be like our Father in Heaven. He loves our enemies too, because He created them and identifies them as His prodigal children. Always remember, God does not hate our enemies.
One of the greatest evidences that this is true is what happened to Joshua just before he led the Israelite army in the attack against Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). As he was looking at the great formidable wall that surrounded that impregnable city which no one had ever conquered, he suddenly beheld a man with drawn sword standing between him and Jericho. Taken aback, he asked him, “Are you on our side, or the side of our enemies? The “man” answered him, “Neither. I am the captain of the host of the Lord, and it is in this authority that I have arrived.” Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped the Lord. Humbly he asked, “What command does my lord have for His servant?” The Captain of the Lord’s Host answered him, ‘Loose thy shoe off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” And Joshua did just that.
Joshua was standing there, looking at that mighty city of Jericho, wondering how he would conquer it. He faced the battle of his life. The entire Promised Land was before him, and he was but a man. Here was his opportunity to learn the top military expertise from the greatest Soldier in the earth. No military man ever had such an opportunity to be taught how to win a battle.
And what does this High Commanding Officer, this “Five Star General” of Hosts tell him? He simply tells him to take off his shoes! Why? How does one win a battle with bare feet?
The reason he told him to take off his shoes was twofold: first, it was an act of humility, a sign that Joshua must put his faith and trust in God alone, if he was ever going to conquer. Second, it was an act of humility and respect for the blood he would have to shed. They were God’s creation too. He loved their babies more than words can tell, but he knew that if any of them were to come to Heaven, they would have to be separated from the evil lifestyle of their parents and leaders. It was an act of God’s love when He allowed this terrible judgment to take place. God sees beyond the veil. He is not limited by our human vision. He loves all souls. God does not take delight in the death of even the worst sinner, because He knows that he is going to hell, and it causes Him great sorrow. But when the small children die, who still have not reached the age of accountability, He sends His angels to take them to Heaven.
GOD WEEPS WHEN
HIS CREATIONS SUFFER
While our nation stood at the brink of another war, the angels were weeping. An angel called Precious, told Rev. Carl Hahn, “These tears are associated with the possibility of war and more future terrorist attacks. Keep in mind that since the angels have been created by Our Father and are under assignment by our Father, that the angels express feelings that are in the heart of Our Father. The wars that take place on Planet Earth always result in some sorrow in the heart of Our Father.”
The Holy Spirit added, “Whenever a war takes place there is always sorrow that takes place in the heart of Our Father. This sorrow is not about whether the war is right or wrong, but that people are going to suffer with any type of war. Our Father sorrows because not only will saints and righteous people suffer in a war, but also wicked and unrighteous people will suffer in a war. The truth of the matter is that anything that causes anyone to suffer on Planet Earth results in some sorrow in the heart of Our Father.” [Rev. Carl Hahn has written many journals that tell about his daily experiences with Holy Spirit and angels. See page ad-4].
This explains why I had to weep for the suicide bombers. They are part of a system of evil and hatred that is conceived in the heart of Satan who sits back and laughs when he sees mankind suffer because of his evil schemes. Satan and his demons are nobody’s friend.
Satan is the one who turns the nations of the world against each other. And, he is the one who turns the children of God against each other. He is no man of sorrows. There is no mercy nor love in him. Though he has caused rivers of tears to flow, he has never felt one tear fall from his eyes. Repentance is as far from him as the east is from the west.
As children of our Father we have to rise above the sentiments and weaknesses of our culture and our emotions, and ask for a heart like Our Father’s Who shows His mercy to the just and the unjust.
In other words, we must open our arms to accept all whom the Lord sends into our lives. God wants us to be people who love, because love is the nature of God, and He lives in our hearts.
“The Church of the Open Arms” is like the father of the prodigal son who welcomes his lost son with open arms and great joy, even though he has made his life filthy in the devil’s “pig-pen” of sin.
THE GREAT SIN OF SODOM
While it is true that sodomy is sinful in the eyes of God, the greatest sin of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t Sodomy; it was the way they treated anyone who came to their cities. History tells us that they were very cruel to strangers. Perhaps it was because they were people of great wealth. They had obtained great riches through their very fruitful fields and their oil pits (Genesis 14:10). (Oil is still the curse of the nations that have a great supply of it.) The Bible says that their land was like the Garden of Eden before God destroyed it (Genesis 13:10). They were greedy, so they didn’t want to share their blessings with anyone. They had no mercy on the poor and needy. They were proud of their riches, thinking that they had somehow earned it, neither were they grateful to God for His goodness to them. They were unmerciful to travellers who came to them. Probably the only reason they received Lot was because he, himself, had great wealth, and when they saw his great herds they coveted his riches.
We know that greed and the love of riches is what Sodom was known for, because about 1300 years later the prophet Ezekiel records this condemnation against them: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
The Book of Jasher [see page ad-3] gives us an account of their terrible cruelty to strangers and their destruction by the angels of the Lord (Chapter 19; pages 37-40).
Josephus records, “About this time the Sodomites grew proud on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, insomuch that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from Him; they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices. God was therefore much displeased at them, and determined to punish them for their pride, and to overthrow their city, and lay waste to their country, until there should neither plant nor fruit grow out of it.” [The Complete Works of Josephus, Book I, chapter 11, see page ad-3].
We have to be careful that we never allow the spirit of greed and stinginess to control us so that we refuse to share the blessings of God with others. America is guilty of many sins, but she has this credit to her account that she has fed the world. Everywhere I have gone, throughout the world, I have seen how either the USA or Saints from the land of USA have blessed the nations of the world. And even when it says that it is a gift from the United Nations, behind most of it is the American dollar which proudly states, “In God We Trust.” And may we EVER trust in Him!
When Jesus was on earth He lived and preached much in and around the town of Capernaum. There were good people living there and in the vicinity, such as Peter and Andrew, James and John. The people loved him, but the leaders of the synagogue rejected and persecuted Him.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to preach throughout the country He exhorted them, “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).
Those were very strong words of judgment. Why? Because Jesus hates the spirits of selfishness and greed. He is grieved when people refuse to open their hearts to those who are in need. He wants us to be a people who are known as “The Church of the Open Arms.”
Jesus was warning everyone that the people who do not receive those whom the Lord sends will be judged with a judgment that will equal that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus told His disciples to shake off the dust of that city from their feet because it is cursed. Abraham refused to accept so much as a shoe-latchet from the king of Sodom. He knew that the king would later boast how great things he had done for Abraham, and that it was he who had made Abraham rich. Riches were too important to him.
We have to be careful that we do not put riches ahead of the true treasures of this life, such as good health, our gifts and talents, friends, a good spouse who loves us and is faithful to us, the blessings of children, good music, our daily bread, books, (especially the Bible), a good church where we receive the Word of God, peace, the beautiful world that He has created for us, and the wonderful Presence of God wherever we go!
When Paul was writing to Timothy, his son in the Gospel, he gave him the standard by which the church should choose its leaders. One of the most important of these qualifications for leadership was that the elders who would be chosen must be “given to hospitality” (1 Timothy 3:2).
WHAT MADE AMERICA GREAT?
There are many things that made America great. One of the reasons America became great is that she opened her door to the people of the world. The Jews, the Irish, the Chinese, and even my people, who were persecuted for the Gospel’s sake in Europe, found a welcome when they landed in the 1800’s on these shores. Land was practically given to them if they promised to homestead it. They found freedom to worship, to travel, to live according to their customs, and freedom of education. It was like The Promised Land to them. And they came because God told them to come here.
No words better describe the heart of early America that welcomed millions of immigrants in those years than those engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in the New York City harbour. When our people saw it, it was like seeing a big angel from Heaven welcoming them to a land of freedom and peace. Millions have stood at the foot of “The Lady in the Harbor,” and read the beautiful, moving inscription by the American Jewish poetess, Emma Lazarus, (1849-1887).
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
In spite of our greatness and kindness to those who came to us, two great blotches on our history scar that beautiful story; the souls we abducted out of Africa and brought here to be our slaves, and the many treaties of peace that we made with the original nations of this land, the people we call the Indians. We broke every treaty we ever made with them, killing their people with our gunpowder, by starvation, plagues and driving them from place to place, until their chiefs either died in battle or of a broken heart.
I wonder if it is catching up to us now! We all have to acknowledge that since September 11, 2001 things have changed drastically. America, and even the whole world will never be the same again!
Today all immigration is greatly restricted. It is almost impossible for some people even to get visas to visit us. This is understandable. Some of those whom we welcomed in good faith came for the purpose of learning how they could destroy us and our great land. It was here they were trained to be killers. In seeking to welcome all, we also welcomed devils.
WHY WAS THE
GOOD SAMARITAN GOOD?
Someone once said to me, “Love is not a word, it is a deed.” The Apostle John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). One who has the Love of God in his heart does good deeds.
When a certain lawyer tried to get Jesus in trouble by asking Him questions concerning the Law, he asked Him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asked him what was written in the Torah. He correctly answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).
The lawyer was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” and Lev 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”
In Matthew we read that Jesus also said that this was the FIRST, and the GREATEST of all the commandments, and that all the commandments were based on these two (Matthew 22:37-40).
But the lawyer was convicted in the presence of Christ, for he knew that even though he had the Word of God in his head he didn’t have it in his heart. He was a man with little, if any, love. So, in order to make excuses for his lack of love, he asked the question, “Who is my neighbour?”
That was when Jesus told him the story of “The Good Samaritan.” The most important part of the whole story was that the Samaritan, even though he was an outcast in the eyes of the Jews, was doing the works of God by his kindness to the Jew who had been attacked and robbed (probably by another Jew) on the road to Jericho. The Samaritan cleaned out the poor man’s wounds with wine and oil, then, he put him on his beast and brought him to an inn. He took care of him through the night; and when he saw that it was safe to leave him, he put him in the care of the innkeeper, promising to pay all the expenses on his way back.
When Jesus had finished telling his interrogator the parable, He asked him whom he thought was the true “neighbour.” The lawyer had to confess with his own mouth that the Samaritan (the man he was prejudiced against) was the true neighbour.
Yes, your neighbour can be that foreigner next door with the squinty eyes, that harlot who stands at the street corner, the man who spends his days and nights gambling, or the Moslem who is praying to Allah. Perhaps he is even your Moslem doctor, your Hindu college professor, or the Buddhist tailor who makes your fashionable clothes. You never know where you will find your neighbour.
I remember when my husband, Jim, and I were in South Africa: We were invited by a prosperous Christian restauranteur to eat in his fashionable restaurant. Because we knew he was the owner, and we were hungry, I ordered a dessert, which I wouldn’t have done if I had thought I would be paying the bill. At last, after a final cup of coffee it was time to go. When the waiter brought us the bill, I expected our host to snatch it away, but to my shock he didn’t. We waited and waited, until we were embarrassed, and I knew I had to do something. So, I whispered to Jim, that it looked like we would have to pay for it. I was grieved in my spirit as I walked out.
Later in the day I was looking at some frocks in a ladies’ dress shop. It was closing time, but the clerk said she didn’t mind keeping the shop open if I wanted to look around. I noticed that she was of East Indian descent. As I was paying for my purchase we started chatting and I told her about my many trips to India. She was happy to hear how much I loved India. I asked her if she was a Christian. She answered no, she was a Hindu. I talked a bit about Jesus. And then I told her how I miss Indian curry. She said to me, “Tell me where you are living, and I will make you a pot of curry and bring it to you.” I was so surprised that tears almost came to my eyes. Here was a Hindu woman who had never seen me in her life, offering to bring me curry, while the rich white restaurant owner, who had invited us to his restaurant, had made us pay for our meal. The next day the curry arrived with a big smile. It was lamb curry too! She had asked me what was my favourite. I ask you, which of the two was my neighbour?
Some of the most hospitable people today are the people of the East, especially those of Arabic descent. They put us Westerners to shame. I believe God has reserved them for the last days. They are at hand to come into the Kingdom of God. Through the last thirty-odd years of my life. I can hear the agonizing prayer of Abraham for his children whom we call the Arabs today, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” (Genesis 17:18).
IT IS TIME TO LOVE THE NATIONS
God wants us to love the nations. He wants us to ask Him to give us the nations. He says in Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
It is time to ask God for the nations. But how can we when we have no love for others? We need to ask God not only to enlarge our borders, but also to enlarge our hearts so that we can be a blessing to those whom the Lord wants to bring to us. Some pastors want big congregations. They are proud to say that they pastor mega-churches, but they do not love their people. They don’t even know their names, nor do they care to learn to know them. They have no time for their problems, make no house visitations, and are angry if anyone should find out their private phone number and call them.
God is calling us to change. In the dream, when I was asked to pastor the church that had rejected me, I said that I would accept the responsibility under two conditions:
1. We would have to change the location of the church. We have to make a change. We can’t stay the way we were, if we want to be a blessing. It’s time for a move of God in our lives. If we stay where we are spiritually we will die; there is no room in our hearts for God to send anyone to us.
Since 1975 the End-Time Handmaidens and Servants have lived down in Engeltal Valley, and it has been good. God has blessed, and we have been happy. We have no intention of moving. But it is time for change; it is time for enlargement. We have to enlarge our borders. We have to prepare new and larger facilities up on the top of the hill so that ordinary people, who are afraid of our difficult road, will be able to get to us. God is getting ready to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us. And we need to make a move so that we are ready to receive all whom the Lord will send. It is in obedience to the Lord’s will that we have purchased and refurbished the old roller skating building on the top of our hill. It is a very special and different structure which all the local people remember visiting when they were young. Here they skated, and here they partied and danced. Now those who come are there to meet God.
2. We have to change the name. While I know the Lord didn’t mean that we should stop calling ourselves End-Time Handmaidens and Servants, we must expand our hearts to include all of God’s children, and those who are not yet God’s children. We must not be a closed society. We must be “The Church of The Open Arms.” The Ozark Mountains are filled with people who will come when they know there is someone who will receive them and love them. Many of them are afraid of our name, “End-Time Handmaidens.” How can they come to the Jesus in us if they are afraid of us? The Lord gave us the name for our building on the top of the hill, “The Ozark Glory Tabernacle.” We have dedicated it to the Glory of God. It doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to Him. And now the people are coming. Every month we are having old fashioned “revival meetings” where the hungry, the hurting and those who want to come back to the Lord are coming to receive a fresh touch from Him. And the end is not yet. If we were not “The Church of the Open Arms,” we would not reach out, make sacrifices, and do what the Lord has commanded us to do.
IT IS TIME TO SEARCH FOR THE LOST
In the Gospels Jesus tells a prophetic parable about a King who made a great feast in honour of his son’s wedding. He invited many important guests (friends and relatives) to come to the feast, but they made many excuses why they could not come. (Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-24).
When everything was ready the king sent his servants to escort them to the palace for the feast. But, to his consternation, they mistreated his servants, mocking them, beating them and even killing some.
In anger he told his servants to go to the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the “the poor and the maimed, the halt and the blind.”
So the servants went out into the highways and gathered together as many as they found, the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind. As the king saw them filling the great banqueting hall, he noticed there still were empty seats at the tables. So he sent them out again the second time into the highways and hedges, the far away mission fields of the world, where the people had never received the invitation (the Gospel had never been preached). He told them to compel them to come “that my house may be filled.”
And they came. The bad and the good, thieves and robbers, drug addicts and drug dealers, prostitutes and their pimps, alcoholics and those who sold them their drink, the divorced, remarried and divorced again, homosexuals and lesbians, fornicators and adulterers, those sick and dying of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, fornicators and adulterers, prisoners, murderers, terrorists, witches, and warlocks, satanists, and fallen preachers, the rejects of society — they all came in through the Golden Gate of the Grace of God, and as they came they were singing:
“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
Was blind, but now I see.”
A self-righteous man, upon seeing the great crowd being welcomed by the King, joined the crowd and hurried inside to find a seat. And then the door was closed. But the King, looking around at his guests saw this intruder. He pointed him out, because he was easy to pick out from among this “wretched refuse” of humanity’s “teeming shore.” He was not wearing the right robe —the robe of humility — and neither could he join in the song, for he didn’t think he was a “wretch” that needed saving. He didn’t know he was blind, and evermore would be. So he was cast out. He had received the invitation the first time it went out and had rejected it; now it was too late.
Yes, it’s time for a new move of God in the Church; a move of love and mercy. For some it may already be too late, they are so filled with self-righteousness, and their robes stink in the nostrils of God.
But for others in the highways and byways of life there is one last call of love going out from the heart of the Father. And they are coming, the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,” and we must stand there, lifting up our Lamp beside the “Golden Door,” welcoming them all to come into the Father’s House.
And this we will gladly do if we are “The Church of the Open Arms.”
Copyright 2003 by Gwen R. Shaw