|Over the next several weeks, critically acclaimed author Connie Neal will be contributing to CBN.com with an exclusive semi-weekly column devoted to the aftermath of and spiritual recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
dealing with disaster
Jesus on a Roof Top: Seven Steps of the Good Samaritan
By Connie Neal
September 28, 2005, marked the one month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. For those watching by television, the top-story-status of the storm has passed. Has our concern and action passed too? When Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?” – meaning who am I obligated to love – Jesus told the story we have come to know as the “Good Samaritan.” Jesus made the focal point of his concern the man at the center of the story, the man who was beaten and left half-dead. The Samaritan was deemed good because he took pity on the man; but his mercy-showing didn’t stop on the day he dropped the man off at the inn. I’ve identified seven steps that make up the Good Samaritan’s demonstration of love. We would do well to follow these, whether we are helping survivors of the recent hurricanes, caring for an elderly relative, or helping a friend through some personal crisis.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 1) He went to him and 2) bandaged his wounds, 3) pouring on oil and wine. Then he 4) put the man on his own donkey, 5) took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he 6) took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and 7) when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:25-37)
Loving God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind is easy to spiritualize. However, Jesus told us a very down-to-earth story to make that which is truly spiritual, practical as well. Then he said “Go and do…”
Here are the seven steps that we would do well to follow whenever we see someone in need of help:
1. Go to the person in need. All three men in the story saw the man and recognized the need. Two justified their reasons for doing nothing. The Samaritan felt pity for the man and went to him. That step – going – started all the others. When pity turned to action, when concern turned into contact God’s love was at work.
A friend of mine, named Adrienne, was moved of the Lord to help some of the refugees from New Orleans who had to flee to California. She collected clothes, found a way to get the clothes to the hurricane survivors, and helped a church that was working on their behalf. But when she actually delivered clothes and food to one of the families in need, something happened in her heart. She saw where they were living. She saw the little three-year-old boy bent over a trash can, throwing up. She hugged their 12-year-old. She spoke words of comfort and encouragement to the “Mama” of the family as she made arrangements to get her little boy to the hospital. Ever since Adrienne went and made contact her heart was changed.
There are different ways we can “go.” If we have no way to go in person, we can give to those who are in a position to go. However, if there is any way you could get involved personally, do it. There’s no telling what God wants to do through you and in you through the experience. Check and see if your church is planning any teams going to help. Check with the Red Cross; they were looking for 40,000 new volunteers.
2. Tend immediate wounds. The first practical thing the Samaritan did was bandage his wounds. Wounded people need immediate care at their point of injury. Whether they are wounded physically, emotionally, or spiritually, people need help binding up their wounds. Note he didn’t heal his wounds, but tended them so that God’s healing could take place.
When our family lost so much, including many of our friends, there were a few who came to us, and simply listened to us describe where it hurt. They couldn’t change our circumstances. They couldn’t make the hurt go away. What they could do was identify with us where we were wounded, and show their care at that point. They reassured us that God would heal us in time. In that way they were tending our immediate wounds.
Those displaced by hurricanes have most likely found a safe place to stay, they have something to eat, and they have gotten whatever emergency medical treatment was needed initially. The wounds they have now may be feeling lonely, frightened, and uncertain about their future. If you are in personal contact with someone needing support, give it at the point of their immediate felt needs. If you are not in personal contact, remember the wounds of all the hurricane survivors in your prayers.
3. Pour out your supply of healing and comfort: The Samaritan poured oil and wine on the wounds. These were the things he had on hand. The wine that could have made his heart glad could also act as a disinfectant for the man’s wounds. The oil acted as a soothing lotion to ease the pain. When we see someone wounded and hurting, we can start to minister by giving what we have to give.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “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 have received from God.”(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) Just sharing whatever helped you get through a similar situation is powerful. Telling someone about the goodness of God, the comfort you have received, answers to prayer, and God’s healing power goes a long way, especially if you speak from experience. Beyond that, you can give any thing you have that would help.
4. Provide transportation if needed. The Samaritan put the man on his own donkey. Maybe you could provide a bus pass or a ride somewhere, or call a taxi. People need to get to where they can find further help. Although providing transportation doesn’t seem super-spiritual it is included in Jesus’ story. Maybe you can help someone by offering them a ride to church. Maybe offer to take someone shopping weekly. Often it is through offering practical help we get the opportunity to help someone spiritually or offer them the gospel message.
5. Outsource for help. The Samaritan had been on his way somewhere when he saw the man. He had to get on with his obligations. So he took the man to someone else who could look after him. Likewise, when someone is in dire need, we can’t put aside our rightful responsibilities, nor should we. We need to outsource for the help that is needed. In the situation with the hurricane survivors, and in most situations, when people see a great need there are many agencies and individuals who are able to help in specific ways. Find out what help is needed and what help is available. Contact the agencies and let others do what they are equipped to do.
6. Cover expenses. When life gets rough, money tends to be an issue. In the case with the Good Samaritan, the man had just been robbed. He went from being a man of means to being penniless in one big event. Covering his expenses was a Godsend, literally. If it is within your means to help in a financial way, offer that help. If it is not within your means, check with local churches or Christian organizations to see if they can help cover expenses until the person is again able to work and care for themselves.
7. Keep in touch. This last point may be most important. The Samaritan said, “Look after him and when I return …” He was planning to return to see how the man was doing and continue his care. The people we saw on TV, wading through waist-deep water or on a rooftop merely a month ago need us to keep on caring. If you have personal contact with those who have been hurt and displaced, let them know that you will be back; then keep in touch. If you have been touched with pity for them, make a commitment to do some long-term giving whether through the disaster funds of Operation Blessing or the Salvation Army.
It’s been a little over a month since the hurricane and our pity has faded a bit; that’s only natural. Therefore, we need to realize that we must make an effort to keep in touch with the needs of these hurting families. As we follow the seven steps of the Good Samaritan, God will continue to use us to demonstrate our love for him in a way that will impact our world and please our Father in heaven.
Connie Neal is the author of dozens of Christian books and contributor to several Bible projects including the Kids’ Devotional Bible. Her book Dancing in the Arms of God includes the story of how her family lost almost everything over fifteen years ago and how the love of God demonstrated through caring individuals in the church helped miraculously turn their lives around. God has restored much more than was lost, and opened doors to see their God-given dreams come true.
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