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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
October 9, 2019
In the nearest city to where Shena grew up, the city of Dipolog, about 12 miles away from her village, there is a beautiful walkway along the ocean. It is called “The Boulevard” and for a good reason. It is always full of people. It is a mile and a half long, and it is a remarkably beautiful place. On the one side, the walkway is lined with palm trees and the ocean, and the other side is lined with park benches and eating places, and down the middle it is usually filled with people strolling along, enjoying the ocean breeze, the sunset, or the crowd that gathers there every evening. It is the happening place. People come from far around to enjoy an evening on the “Boulevard.” It is the place Shena and I went for our first date.
The Boulevard is not only the most popular place in the city, it is a magnet for street children who come to beg for a few coins so they can get something to eat. And they especially prey on foreigners, who they assume are rich, and who generally are quite generous to them.
It was not surprising that when Shena and I were at the Boulevard, several street children approached us with their hands open and asked for coins. Rather than giving them coins, I began to talk to them. I asked them about their families, where they slept at night, what they did if they got sick, if they went to school, their dreams for the future, and a lot of other questions. Finally, I asked them why they wanted money. But of course, I knew before they answered. They were hungry.
Shena and I did not give them any money. Instead, we quickly decided to do something else. I asked Shena, “Where is a nice restaurant?” And we headed there with several street children in tow. When we came to the door, Shena and I were warmly greeted. Of course, I was an American, we were nicely dressed, and we had money. But the street children were not welcomed or allowed to go inside, that is, until I turned around and said, “These are my children, they are with me.” Then, reluctantly, they were allowed to come in.
Everyone in the restaurant glared at us, staff and patrons alike. I ordered bar-b-que chicken dinners for all of us. This was possibly the best meal these children had ever had in their lives. And as we sat there eating rice and chicken, I looked at these poor children, thin, malnourished, barefooted, abused bodies with scars, dirty, unkept hair, dressed in rags, completely out of place, undeserving to be in this place, and I began to wonder if this is what heaven will be like, if heavenly beings will come up to me and say, “What are you doing here? You don’t deserve to be here.” And then Jesus will stand up and say, “I invited him, he is with me, he is one of mine.”
The truth is that none of us can earn heaven and none of us deserve to be there, and we should never think that we have any more right to paradise than anyone else. And if Jesus had not invited us and paid our entrance fee, none of us would be there either. This is the very reason we must cling to Jesus and never wander away from him. It matters little what we have done or the mistakes we have made in this life, but it is of monumental importance that we cling to Jesus and never let go! Jesus is our ticket, and the only ticket, to eternal life.