Take the opportunity to reassess, readjust and realign your heart to Jesus this Lent as we take you through a series of devotionals on 'compassion' from our MAF Bible study workbook, Recalibrate

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THE ISOLATED

Trouble-shooter

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Here in Tanzania, MAF serves remote village communities by transporting doctors, medical staff, evangelists and pastors to places where physical isolation prevents access to medical care, education and opportunities to hear the Gospel.

Though we work to transform the lives of the world’s most isolated people, moving overseas for the first time was quite an isolating experience for our family. We grappled with a new way of life, a new culture and a sense that we didn’t quite fit in. 

That sense of isolation became more acute when something went wrong, because my natural reaction was to put my head down and try to ‘fix’ the problem myself!

We are part of a new church here in Arusha, and for the last month we’ve been looking at Paul’s letters to Timothy. Timothy found himself in a very difficult and isolated position — being sent by Paul as a ‘trouble-shooter’ to solve problems in the church at Ephesus. 

Although Timothy was still a young man, he was tasked with correcting the behaviour of senior church members.

In his letters, Paul takes time to provide personal encouragement and to coach and urge Timothy to stand firm despite any opposition or isolation he experiences. Paul also reminds Timothy to take care of himself physically.

He writes, ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity’ (1 Timothy 4:12), then adds, ‘Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses’ (1 Timothy 5:23). 

Paul’s words reflect how God’s compassion for the isolated is expressed repeatedly in the Bible. He reminds us of our identity, and of how much He loves us. He gives us His Holy Spirit to enable us to stand firm, as well as providing for our physical needs. If we are willing to seek Him and allow Him, the Lord will encourage us and remind us of these truths each day.

Lord, thank You that I am Your child and that You provide for me in ways that I may not even recognise. Thank You for giving me a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Help me each day to show Your compassion and love to the broken and isolated people I meet. Amen.

1 Kings 19:3-8 (NIV)

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

  1.  When looking at the stories of Elijah and Timothy, what do we learn about God’s heart for the isolated?

  2.  What might compassion for those who are isolated look like, in our daily lives?

 Father, show me the ways in which I choose to isolate myself from You and from the people around me, and enable me to encourage and strengthen those who feel isolated.

About the author

Stewart Ayling, along with his wife Michelle and their three children, has served with MAF Tanzania since 2011. Apart from working in the Arusha office, Stewart serves as Dangerous Goods Advisor for MAF programmes around the world — finding safe ways to fly fuel, batteries, medical samples, water treatment chemicals and other essential items for our partners.

 

 

 

 

THE LONELY

In the storm

…Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

John 16:32 (NIV)

The storm that struck that night was the kind that made you believe the world was coming to an end. 

There were lightning strikes all around, and thunder shook our house. The next morning, mudslides on our hill and fallen compound walls forced me to take my run in a different direction from usual. As I prepared to set off, something caught my eye. 

It was a girl, a little younger than my daughter. She was muddy and bruised, her nightgown ripped to shreds. Blood trickled down her face from her nose. After a savage beating from relatives with whom she’d been living in the city, they had chased her into the street, where she hid in a drain during the downpour and chaos of the storm.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand the circumstances God allows us to go through; the ones that separate us from our families or which make us feel utterly alone, rejected and unloved. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap our heads around how a loving God could allow His beloved children to feel so alone. But that’s where, as His hands and feet, we come in. 

He has called us to love one another (1 John 4:7) and to have compassion for each other (Colossians 3:12). As followers of Christ, we don’t arrive in these stories with superhero capes on our backs, but we crawl into them with His cross; His compassion for us on our shoulders.

Death and distance may separate us, relationships fall apart; people leave. Tough times and difficult circumstances can make you feel like you’re walking alone. But there is One who is always with us. 

Remember, you are His child; you’ll never be alone in the storm. 

Jesus Christ is the greatest example of someone who shows true compassion. He spent time with the sick, the outcast, the poor and the lonely. And then, in a great act of compassion, He died for us so we could always have a place with Him. We have a good Father, one who will always walk with us, and never leave us — whatever storms life brings.

 

Dear God, please help me to remember that You are always with me; that I am not alone. You are my good Father, and because of that I will always have a home with You. Help me to be Your hands and feet on this earth; showing Your love and compassion to those who feel as if they are alone. Help me to not let Your children feel trapped in the storm. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:16-17 (NIV)

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

  1.  From these passages, what do we learn about God’s heart for the lonely?

  2.  What might compassion for those who are lonely look like, in our daily lives?

 Father, show me how to rely on You during the times I feel alone, and reveal the people in my life who may be feeling lonely right now

About the author 

Chaundra Eager grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, hearing stories of her dad and uncles smuggling Bibles into the USSR. Excited by the idea of mission, Chaundra and her husband Matt joined MAF in 2013. Matt serves as a missionary pilot in Uganda and Chaundra works as Visitor Co-ordinator, where her passion for people and missions continues to grow.

 

 

 

THE SICK

Speak life

Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!’

Ezekiel 37:4 (NIV)

Little or no access to healthcare. Financial challenges that force choices between feeding one’s family or getting medicine for a sick child. Rampant malnourishment and diseases carried by contaminated water.

This is everyday life for most people in many of the countries where MAF serves, not just in Haiti where our family lives. This became a reality for our own family when our five-year-old son was diagnosed with necrotising pneumonia — a very serious and fatal form of lung disease. There was nowhere for us to go in Haiti to get the care needed to save his life.

We were fortunate that, thanks to a medical emergency evacuation, our son was able to make a full recovery — praise the Lord! But that night, as we left the Haitian hospital and made our way to the airport and a waiting jet, we were all too aware of those who were not able to do the same.

Recently, a young Haitian lady we’d mentored for years, and dearly loved, died unexpectedly. Though she was being checked in at the hospital when she stopped breathing, no one attempted CPR in order to revive her. This is the reality of healthcare in a developing country. Seeing these and other great needs every day, coupled with my own significant health issues, God has been nurturing a call to speak life into dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). 

This means going beyond serving with the aircraft. It means going into the trenches and getting our hands dirty: late-night calls, hospital visits, taking care of caregivers who advocate for children otherwise deemed ‘untouchable’ and without value. Somehow, in that process, God is glorified. 

The difficult things we experience can be the vehicle God uses to draw us, and others around us, to Him. It is up to us to listen to His voice, speak life into people’s lives, and watch as God comforts others with the same grace, peace and comfort He has given to us (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). 

 

Lord, please help me to see others as You see them: with value and purpose, loved and cherished. Give me wisdom and grace to speak Your truth, full of life and healing for the deepest of hurts. Grant me discernment to know whether to act or to simply be still and watch You work. Use my life as You see fit to bring honour and glory to You. Amen. 

Ezekiel 37:1-6 (NIV) 

Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ 

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 

  1. From the passages, what do we learn about God’s heart for the sick?

  2. What might compassion for those who are sick look like, in our daily lives?

Father, show me the places I may have neglected the sick, and teach me how to comfort them with Your Word and Your truth. 

About the author

KB, a Tennessee native, provides hospitality to those in need. The home where she and her family live has been called 'an oasis' for others in Haiti. A stay-at-home wife and mother of two in a pilot/mechanic family, KB loves using her gifts to serve others, whether hosting a family from the countryside or leading a small group Bible study. 

 

 

THE POOR

The person in front of me

 For you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant.

 Ruth 2:13 (NASB)

Living in some of the poorest countries of the world for nearly 31 years has meant that there have been seasons in life where several people a day have asked me for help. At times, it can be difficult not to give in to compassion fatigue; becoming callous or hardened to the poor.

Close to where we lived in Central Asia, there was a woman with four boys and a runaway husband who would sell her handiwork. She needed wood for heating. I had already helped her out twice and didn’t have any further ideas as to how I could use her goods — beautiful though they were — so I said, ‘No, not at this time. I’ll call you if I need anything.’ 

I didn’t feel particularly at peace with my response, but I reasoned that I couldn’t help all the poor people around me all the time. But it was interesting how the next few days were colder than ever. As I sat huddled around my kerosene room heater, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that this family might not have any heat in their home.

In Carolyn Custis James’ study of the book of Ruth, Boaz’s challenge was not whether the biblical system of welfare was sufficient, but whether he could open his hand to share of his abundance. And there Ruth was, standing before him.

God wasn’t asking me to aid all the impoverished people around me this winter, nor was He asking me to give everything away. But there was one family I knew I could definitely help. 

God reminded me that I had some ‘emergency’ money that could be used. The Lord has so faithfully met many of our emergencies in the past that I know Him as Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. But this family may not know Him in that way. 

We generally think of poverty in terms of financial scarcity, but there are many kinds of poverty — poverty of soul being one. How grateful I am that God forgave my hoarding attitude and helps me to keep my heart and hand open to the poor. 

 

Jesus, you taught us that the poor will always be with us. Open my eyes and ears to see those whom You have put in my path to help; keeping my heart and hand open to share what You have graciously given me. Amen. 

James 2:14-17 (NIV) 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ruth 2:8-9 (MSG)

Then Boaz spoke to Ruth: ‘Listen, my daughter. From now on don’t go to any other field to glean — stay right here in this one. And stay close to my young women. Watch where they are harvesting and follow them. And don’t worry about a thing; I’ve given orders to my servants not to harass you. When you get thirsty, feel free to go and drink from the water buckets that the servants have filled.’ 

  1. From the passages, what do we learn about God’s heart for the poor?
  2. What might compassion for those who are poor look like, in our daily lives?

Father, help me not to give in to compassion fatigue and show how to remain tender and compassionate towards the poor.

About the author

Karen Carlson and her pilot husband Dan joined MAF in 1986. She has served MAF as flight follower, office manager, high school teacher and home school mother of seven. Karen was particularly affected by her time in the DRC and later wrote Prayers for Crown Jewels — a personal response to the horrors and abuses facing many women and children there. 

 

 

 

THE OPPRESSED

Frustration or empathy?

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

Imagine you're on your daily commute to work and a police officer stops your car. What you did or didn't do, and whether it's true or untrue, isn't important. You believe in the God of justice and righteousness and have a deep desire to speak against the officer's allegation, but that won't get you anywhere — so you pay the fine and arrive at the office. Are you angry yet?

At the office, a letter is waiting for you alleging that MAF is required to pay a tax of several thousand, and if the fee is not paid immediately there will be penalties.

As you research into it further, a team of government representatives comes to greet you. They begin with 'hello' but follow with an adversarial conversation about their rights, position and authority — and the accusations commence.

It is only 10am. Do you want to give up yet?

Jesus was surrounded by persecution, oppression, and worse. His response? Compassion for the crowds who shared His harsh and hostile environment. My response? Frustration. I joined MAF to fly aircraft, not this!

But, after some time with God, I realise that I'm not alone. Imagine how many others here are being oppressed and how much compassion and prayer they need. I cannot stop caring for them because I am feeling maltreated, but perhaps my own experience can help me to empathise with them.

We need to follow Jesus' example of concern for the harassed crowds around Him. We need to follow His instructions and pray earnestly for them. Otherwise, our emotions take over and push compassion aside. We need to pray for our own souls, pray for the oppressed, and pray even for their persecutors. God's love is limitless.

Lord, help us to know You more each day and fill our hearts with compassion for Your children. May Your joy be the strength that helps us to continue to care for others as You do. Amen.

Romans 12:17-21 (ESV)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Proverbs 14:31 (ESV)

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honours him.

  1. From the passages, what do we learn about God’s heart for the oppressed?
  2. What might compassion for those who are oppressed look like, in our daily lives?

Father, show me how I can love and help those who are oppressed, and teach me to pray for the oppressors in my own life.

About the author

Nick Frey serves with MAF as Country Director and Pilot, based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, since 2011. Days when he is ‘flying the desk’ rather than piloting a plane can be difficult, but he enjoys the mix of flying and managing flights for MAF partners. He loves serving with his wife Jocelyn, who helps MAF in various ways, and coming home to play with his children Ruth and Pascal.

 

 

 

 

THE DISPLACED

The Father's Heart

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Isaiah 58:7 (ESV)

I knew this was going to be difficult. From the moment I spotted the ramshackle collection of UNHCR tents grouped together on the rocky roadside, I felt my heart begin to break.

Leaning over to a colleague sitting beside me in the minibus, I whispered, ‘This is going to be hard. I may not want to leave.’

Several years of reading and seeing humanitarian reports on the Syrian refugee crisis had left me with a real passion for the people, and a deep desire to see for myself. And here I was, in a refugee camp in northern Jordan, in the warm desert sunshine, both excited and dreading what was to come.

Two hours later, I didn’t want to leave. We had sat cross-legged in one of the tents, listening to harrowing stories — the facts and figures now real people with traumatised faces.

Outside the tent, I played with a group of beautiful children who had nothing to play with except rocks and old tyres, and their delight in our simple games was magnetic. I didn’t want to leave but, persuaded back onto the bus by the team, I sat silently in tears as we drove to the next destination.

Some years later, I visited another refugee camp. This time, in northern Uganda, where MAF planes brought in aid workers and officials. It was one of the largest in the world, and was full of people who’d fled the war in South Sudan. 

Although I was expecting chaos and sadness, I found well organised services and refugees who were glad to be safe and well-looked-after, despite their traumatic ordeals. But heartbreak returned, and I sat quietly on my bed that night, crying.

We often pray, ‘Lord break my heart with what breaks Yours.’ This had been my prayer for many years, and when He chose to answer with just a glimpse of what He sees, it was unbearable, and I was undone.

We are called to love the orphan and the widow, the outcast and the poor. However if we hope to do it with any measure of His compassion, we need to see them the way the Father does. But be prepared for what comes next, because there’s no going back. Once you see through His eyes, nothing looks the same again and tears are never far away.

Heavenly Father, help me to see people as You see them. Give me just a glimpse of Your heart and compassion for those around me who are displaced and forgotten by the world. I thank You that, as You give me the boldness and grace to reach out, You will provide everything I need to be Your hands and feet in this world. Amen.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

  1. From the passage, what do we learn about God’s heart for the displaced?
  2. What might compassion for the displaced person and refugee look like, in our daily lives?

Father, help me to see displaced people and refugees as You see them, and show me how I can show compassion towards them.

About the author

Ruth Jack manages the MAF Arnhem Land programme with her husband, Duncan. She has a huge passion for the developing world and for sustainable work that fights injustice and poverty wherever it exists. She previously led the MAF UK Scottish team of staff and volunteers. Before joining MAF, she worked for Tearfund Scotland.

 

 

 

 

THE LOST

A Shepherd’s Perspective

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36 (ESV)

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew is a convicting verse for me. One would think that after many years living as a missionary in a cross-cultural environment, compassion for the lost would be a foregone conclusion. 

The reality is, I still find myself frequently challenged to look beyond the daily frustrations that come out of serving and interacting with others, who may be unappreciative or even critical of our attempts to help them. In addition, our family struggles at times to live in the midst of a neighbourhood where brokenness is on constant display. 

Unemployment, alcoholism, domestic abuse and poverty are present in every direction one looks — lost people in desperate need of the life-changing transformation that comes through a relationship with Christ. 

We don’t always look upon the lost living among us with the perspective of a shepherd who cares for them as ‘harassed and helpless’ sheep. Rather, it is sometimes easier for us to allow emotions like fear, anger, frustration and guilt to stand in our way — preventing us from engaging others with the hope of the Gospel.

Romans 12 reads almost like a manual on how our lives can be shaped to honour God. Among many other things, it says, ‘Let love be genuine’ (Romans 12:9). 

I think the key for showing compassion to the lost is grounded in having genuine love for them. When I consider the people in my life that I love the most — my family and friends — compassion naturally follows. I don’t have to manufacture anything — I am deeply moved for their well-being. 

The Son came to this world because of the Father’s love. 

I know that on my own I am not capable of that type of love for the world. But I also know that, with Christ in me, His love can flow through me — and that makes all the difference!

Lord, please let me be a vessel of Your love. Help me to see the lost as You see them and to have a compassion for them, as You had compassion for me when You offered Your life as a sacrifice for my sin. Amen

Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV)

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’

Romans 9:10-13 (NIV)

Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

  1. From these passages, what can we learn about God’s heart for the lost?
  2. What might compassion for the lost look like, in our daily lives?

Father, align my heart with Your heart, and show me how I can reflect Jesus as I interact with people who do not yet know Him.

About the author

David Holsten, along with his wife Natalie and their four children, has served with MAF since 2000. During his time overseas, David has served as a missionary pilot, country director, mechanic, and regional director of Indonesia. He counts it a blessing to be part of a ministry that advances the Gospel in such a unique, vital and strategic way.

  

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