Acting for the Messiah

acts_isaac_maryThe Torah of Moses and the instructions of our Master Yeshua instruct us to open our hands to the poor and not hold back from providing for the needy. As disciples of the Master, it is our duty to fulfill these obligations to the best of our ability and to meet the need where it is greatest. Tororo, Uganda, like many other locations around the world, is subject to harsh poverty, low quality of life, and often a dangerous environment to live in, especially for the young.

-from the A.C.T.S. for Messiah website.

I know I said I wasn’t going to discuss the First Fruits of Zion Shavuot Conference anymore, but there is one important aspect I forgot to mention. During the conference, there were two meals not covered by the conference registration. They were fundraisers for a missionary effort called A.C.T.S. for Messiah, which according to their About page:

…is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the orphaned, widows, poor and needy in Africa. This Messianic Jewish mission is based in the East African nation of Uganda where Emily Dwyer brings the Gospel of Yeshua to remote villages, teaches discipleship, feeds the hungry and cares for a group of orphaned children. Our ministry is based in the village of Tororo, Uganda.

One thing I know about the Christian church is that they’re very good at sending compassionate missions outside of their own walls, to destinations ranging from different cities in the U.S., to the towns, villages and refuge camps where ever they are found across far-flung corners of the Earth. Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots, not so much. Traditionally, Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots have focused their attention and resources on establishing their movements and the primacy of the Torah. But Messianic Judaism, thanks in part to the aforementioned Shavuot Conference, First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) as an educational ministry, and other Messianic organizations, that viewpoint is becoming more balanced, resting upon (if I can “borrow” from the conference again) Torah, the Good News of Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.

I first encountered A.C.T.S. (the acronym means “Action, Compassion, Teaching and Service”) during last year’s conference. Fortunately this year, they accepted credit cards as well as cash, so I didn’t have to depend on the kindness of strangers (I don’t like traveling with cash) when I wanted to participate.

I’m incredibly pleased to see Messianic Judaism embrace this long-established function of the church in extending itself to uphold this principle of Torah and ancient Judaism. I think it means the movement is maturing beyond its “start-up” stage and is becoming a more holistically functioning expression of the Messiah’s love in the world.

And while you may think that such compassion is primarily Christian/Messianic, I just want to remind you that modern Judaism is an abundant source of love for others.

Dr. Rick Hodes concluded his May 19, 2013 commencement address at Brandeis University this way (the link above leads to the entire content of the article which includes many examples of Jewish compassion to the disadvantaged, the sick, and the dying):

You now start a lifelong link with a great name – Brandeis. What can we learn from Louis Brandeis? He was described as “the disturbing element in any gentleman’s club,” he owned a canoe, not a yacht, he angered clients by trying to be fair to both sides; the judge who succeeded him, called him “a militant crusader for social justice… dangerous because he was incorruptible.” Live up to his legacy.

Spread kindness. You are here because a lot of people helped you along the way. Maybe it was your 10th-grade math teacher who gave you a second chance, maybe it was someone who inspired you in a summer job.

This week, buy beautiful cards and send out four or five, to people who’ve helped you. Let them know you’ve just graduated from Brandeis and they were important to you. They’re going to feel great, and they’ll do it again for others.

Remember this: Run to do good. Create a momentum in the right direction. Get your hands dirty. Wear out your shoes. Don’t try to get too comfortable, please!

Now I imagine the start of a horse race and the bell rings. But you don’t need to race against each other. Whatever horse you choose, and whatever path you follow, I wish you great success and great happiness.

I wish you a lot more than luck, and may God bless you all.

syrian-refugeesThe Pastor of my church was raised by missionary parents and he became a missionary himself. The church I attend aggressively supports multiple missionary efforts around the globe. Many people who attend the church volunteer their time to travel to other countries to pray, encourage, support, build, teach, and do whatever else it takes to feed the hungry, heal the sick and injured, and show the love of Jesus Christ to whoever they may encounter.

A video news story was shown at the beginning of last Sunday’s worship service at my church (found online at CBN.com). It was a Skype interview of a missionary in Syria whose group is providing shelter, food, and support to anyone in need, Christian, Muslim, or anyone else. My words fail dismally to describe what this almost four-minute long video illustrates (I’ve posted the video from YouTube at the bottom of this blog post). The devastation of life is just ghastly, but one courageous group of Christians work to help just because God so loved the world, not just the Christian world, not just the white world, not just the American world, but every man, woman, and child who were created in the image of God.

In other words, everyone.

Part of why I’m writing this is to show that Messianic Judaism is indeed following the will of the Master and the teachings of the Torah, as is much of the traditional Christian church. Another part of why I’m writing this is to ask you to care. Yes, some of you really do care. Some of you give generously, work endlessly, pray fervently for those in need. But more of you…of us need to do the same. Love and worship is more than just showing up to the church on time for Sunday services and going to Sunday school afterwards, strolling through the Bible while drinking coffee and munching on muffins.

Love and caring means giving of whatever you have to give and sharing whatever God has given you to share.

Oh people, look around you
The signs are everywhere
You’ve left it for somebody other than you
To be the one to care
You’re lost inside your houses
There’s no time to find you now
Your walls are burning and your towers are turning
I’m going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow

-Jackson Browne
Rock Me On The Water (1972)

Feed the hungry, take care of the widow and orphan, provide medical care for the sick, make a difference.

Act now.

111 days.

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