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Blessed are the Undesirable

Unless you’re new to the blog, you are aware that my focus in ministry in 2012 has been exclusively on two things:

* In writing and study, it’s been on historical Jesus studies, Christology, and apologetics. My book Jesus: A Theography and my Answers to Skeptics series are two fruits of that effort.

* In practical ministry, it’s been a complete focus on developing relationships with non-Christians (some of whom are agnostics and atheists) on the one hand, and walking along side of and aiding the poor and the afflicted on the other.

I’d like to share a few words about the latter.

At this moment, I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted who I’ve worked with in 2012 and will continue to, God willing, this year.

Some of them have very few friends. Some of them are living in poverty. Some of them have mental illnesses that regularly torment them. Some of them have legal problems. Some of them have gone nose-to-nose with suicide. Some of them are incredibly needy.

This practical ministry has been – at times – emotionally, mentally, and physically draining.

Phone calls in the middle of the night, sometimes lasting several hours just to try and help keep another mortal from harming themselves.

Losing sleep, fighting off the temptation to worry.

Leaving the hospital discouraged.

Dipping into the limited savings to keep someone off the street.

Recurrent images of their plight is sometimes too much to bear. Weeping is not uncommon.

Sometimes I get tired.

Sometimes I grow weary of seeing God do something amazing, only to see it overturned a month later.

Sometimes I rejoice in seeing some of these people learn to walk with God.

Yet amid the light and the shade, I believe this is where the Lord wants me in this season.

The whole experience has been transforming. It reminds me of how deep the Fall goes. It keeps me dependent on Jesus for fresh grace. It keeps me in touch with the frailty of humanity. It keeps me in touch with my own frailty, my own brokenness, and my own daily need of a Savior . . . Jesus Christ of Nazareth who is Resurrection and Life.

It also puts things in perspective. When you’re mind is absorbed with the plight of others, what happens to you doesn’t seem all that important.

Blessed are the undesirable. They are God’s true gifts to this earth . . . and to us.

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FRANK VIOLA has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply, gain fresh perspectives on old or ignored subjects, and make the Bible come alive. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, Beyond Evangelical, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today.