Ministry has taken me to many locations where I have observed a variety of living conditions. Two weeks of ministry in Cape Town, South Africa caused me to reflect on some of what I had seen in my years of ministry.
During years of living in Germany, several German friends gave testimony of the state of affairs before and after the Berlin wall came down in 1989. Some of these friends were in Berlin at the time. The freedom that came with the removal of that wall was more than a news report for people living on each side of the wall. It was a life-changing event. For so long, those on the eastern side of the wall had dreamed of a day when they would be able to once again see family and friends. They had been so near, yet so far away.
One year, as I traveled through Nigeria with friends, we drove past an enormous mansion protected by a high fence. Everything else I had seen, including the immediate surroundings of the mansion, gave evidence of poverty. People living next to the mansion were aware of the luxury, but it was not attainable for them. They were so near, yet so far away.
Much of one year was spent in France where the local beauty and the housing are well above many of the other countries I have visited. Yet, many days I passed by a woman who sat on the sidewalk in between a large bank and a nice shop. She was huddled against the wall during the cold and her tin can in front of her was an indication that the abundance in the bank and the shop was not available to her. She was so near, yet so far away.
This situation was even more pronounced in Cape Town. In a beautiful natural setting, the very modern cosmopolitan city has pockets of severe poverty throughout. The shantytowns, where thousands of people live, are right next to well-maintained highways where luxury vehicles travel. They are so near, yet so far away.
Many in their spiritual lives are in the same situation. God’s love promises the abundance of His everlasting love, the adoption into His royal family and a heavenly inheritance that lasts for eternity. Unless one reaches out and receives Jesus’ invitation to become a part of His family, they will never experience the abundance of the life that He has to give. They are so near, yet so far away.
I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10b NAS).