Compassion and Mercy Associates

Joining Hands to Reach a Hurting World

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Post-Christmas Challenge

December 26, 2016


Today’s post is written by Adriaan Overbeeke. Adriaan serves as the chairman of the CAMA Board.

“No Vacancy!” We’ve all seen the signs.

If you’re a traveler, you’re going to have to find a different motel to stay the night. Of course, you may not like the choices. Especially when all the manager offers you is a cold corner in a crude barn.

How could the manager be so callous in responding to a young couple’s request for a place to stay? Couldn’t he see that the woman was pregnant? What was wrong with him?

I know that most of us reading this are familiar with the account of the first Christmas. Dr. Luke tells us that Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough after being wrapped up in long linen strips. The reason the Son of God ended up being born in that dark, smelly animal stall was because “there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

We might find ourselves asking, “what happened to compassion?” How could that unnamed innkeeper heart be so cold? What about the other guests in that small Bethlehem inn? Why didn’t anyone else offer to give up their room for Mary? The Scripture is silent on those details.

You see, sometimes the opportunity to show compassion and mercy show up unexpectedly.

Like the night a couple weeks ago when I brought my family to our new church home in Billings, Mont. As we drove into the parking lot, I spotted a dark shape laying on the front steps of the church. I had my wife and daughters wait in the car, while I went to investigate.

I discovered a tall Native American man, smelling of alcohol, sleeping on the cement steps in the freezing cold. He was barely staying warm in his very inadequate coat. What was I to do? It wasn’t safe for him to be out all night in those temperatures. I couldn’t just leave him there, but I’m new to town and don’t have any idea of what resources might be available.

I reached out to a church leader, who came over right away. Together, we helped the man stagger across the parking lot into Scott’s van. He assured me that he would make sure the man was in a warm, safe place for the night. Then they drove off. I was convicted in my own heart that Scott’s compassion was far greater than mine.

Scott made sure he was cared for and had a warm place to sleep, despite his drunken state. I was blessed to see Jesus’ love shine through this willing servant. It cost him something to serve this stranger, but knowing Jesus made it worthwhile. Scott wouldn’t take “no vacancy” for an answer.

As you wrap up your family Christmas celebration, may your heart be challenged as mine was to be prepared at a moment’s notice to offer compassion and mercy to those huddled on front doorsteps. It could be refugees from another part of the world. It could be a homeless stranger. Or it could be someone you meet at the gas station.

What matters most is that our hearts say “VACANCY”. There’s room for the needy. Compassion isn’t always convenient; it’s often very costly. And it’s in short supply in our increasingly dark world.

I am grateful to be part of a ministry like CAMA that is committed to being agents of mercy and compassion to those who need it most. This Christmas season, I am thanking God again for our CAMA staff, who demonstrate Christ’s compassionate love to those struggling to survive in some of the darkest places on our planet.

Jesus is watching how we respond to the needy. As Matthew 25 makes clear, they matter greatly to Him: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (verses 35 & 40).

May we be God’s hands, extending mercy and compassion to the least of these. Do it for Jesus.