Live the Gospel
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
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Live the Gospel is the mission of our education and radio ministries. God has called us to share His offer of forgiveness and eternal life across the globe by consistently presenting the gospel, loving Him and others, and letting Jesus’ light shine in all that we say and do.
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Making a Lasting Impact in Little India
From practical and spiritual support to relationship building, tutoring and ESL, Moody Bible Institute students are serving the needs of Chicago’s vast refugee population—and receiving as much as they are giving.
On a drizzly Thursday evening in Chicago’s Little India, Moody Bible Institute students Aaliyah Feaster, Rachel Wilson, and Clara Vander Hoven climb three flights of stairs bringing boxes of diapers and good cheer to Burmese refugee families in the apartment building. Mohammed and Nur Jahenbi, Rohingya Muslims who settled here after fleeing persecution in Myanmar, thank them for the gifts, compliments of Devon Oasis, and invite the students inside.
“Are the kids here?” asks Vander Hoven, dropping her shoes at the door and sitting down on the carpet with the other Moody students.
Suddenly two Rohingya moms appear in the doorway as six refugee children race past them to join their tutors on the floor. The living room erupts with chatter and laughter. For the next two hours, the Moody students play with the children, help them with homework, and share Bible stories. Despite an hourlong commute to the apartment, the students look forward to their weekly visit with the kids.
“It’s cool to build relationships with families and be able to pour into the kids’ lives,” says Vander Hoven, a freshman majoring in ministry to victims of sexual exploitation. “I love it.”
The visit also serves another purpose, fulfilling a weekly Practical Christian Ministry (PCM) requirement at Moody. PCMs have long been a part of every student’s training at Moody, taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and applying it in the community.
Moody Bible Institute offers 300 options for PCM assignments, ranging from homeless shelters and rescue missions to English-language teaching and kids’ Bible clubs. Several PCM opportunities attract students to Little India, the 15-block strip of Devon Avenue stretching west from Damen Avenue to California Avenue.
The diverse South Asian community and commercial district on Chicago’s North Side has seen a large influx of refugees, predominantly Afghan evacuees but also families and individuals from Iraq, Uganda, Myanmar, and Sudan.
“In 36 years, I’ve met people from over 135 nations—in one neighborhood,” says Dr. Bob Andrews, who earned his master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago in 2004 and founded Devon Oasis with his wife, Lynne, in 1986. “We share Jesus Christ unashamedly, but we address people’s felt needs.” Devon Oasis features more than 50 Moody students each semester serving this community of refugees.
Because five resettlement agencies are located in Rogers Park and Albany Park, many immigrants and refugees end up staying in the area. This densely populated community in Chicago offers great opportunities for Moody students and alumni to be good neighbors.
“God has gathered the world on this one-mile strip,” says Bonnie Hill, a junior majoring in missional leadership and nonprofit management at Moody. Hill serves with Devon Oasis, doing in-home tutoring and forming relationships with refugees for her PCM.
Alyssa Grunden, a 2018 graduate of Moody, supervises the homework center at Devon Oasis, where Moody students tutored refugee kids. Before graduating from Moody, this was Grunden’s PCM for four years. She loved it so much she became a missionary to the community.
The South Asian Friendship Center has been a presence in Little India for 25 years. Started by Dr. Samuel Naaman, an intercultural ministries professor at Moody and president/interim director of SAFC, the organization has trained hundreds of Moody students to support South Asians through women’s Bible studies, English-language classes, homework center tutoring, a monthly bilingual service in Hindu/Urdu and English, and ASHA Outreach, a PCM that seeks to restore women caught in sex trafficking.
On Sundays, Pastor Shine Gidla—a 2019 graduate of MTS—welcomes the church family at Sabka Sahaara. An ethnically diverse group of 50 or so people crowd into the storefront church, including Moody students and alumni who desire to serve the community.
The church collaborates with the South Asian Friendship Center and Devon Oasis to provide space for additional homework centers, SAFC’s monthly bilingual women’s service, and other events throughout the week that often involve Moody students.
Sabka Sahaara also hosts New Neighbor, an opportunity to befriend Afghani refugees. The program is in partnership with Exodus World Service, a nonprofit that works with resettlement agencies to help refugees assimilate to their new culture, language, and geography. Exodus is one of the PCMs at Moody. It invited students in Moody’s Children and Family Ministry program to hold a kids club for Afghan refugee children in a downtown hotel where their families stay until they can obtain more permanent housing.
Moody PCMs stretch farther east to the Family Empowerment Center in Rogers Park, where Moody students taught conversational English to refugees and immigrants on Thursdays. Many of the Moody students teach curriculum from one of their TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses. The weekly volunteer efforts of these students brought together people from numerous cultures, countries, and ethnic groups for a common purpose.
When Dr. Bob Andrews wakes up in the morning, he thinks of the Rohingya Muslim refugees who live in adjoining apartment buildings just two blocks away. “I ask myself, Who’s my neighbor? These are the people God’s called me to serve,” he says.
Andrews, a pastor, and his wife, Lynne, have been caring for refugee families in Chicago’s Little India neighborhood since 1986. After earning a master of divinity degree from Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago in 2004, Andrews eventually opened Devon Oasis, a storefront ministry that provides tutoring and other services for the many refugees flooding into the community. Each year he trains dozens of Moody students in intercultural ministry. The need is great.
“Thousands—we’re connected to thousands of people right here, and it’s a mission field,” Andrews says.
Whether you meet refugees at the grocery store, the park, or through your church, you don’t have to be a social worker to help them. Instead, think “good Samaritan,” someone who shows compassion to a hurting stranger and doesn’t pass by on the other side (Luke 10:25–37). How can you get to know the refugees in your community and open the door to sharing the hope and love of Christ?
1. Get involved
Volunteer for ministries that cater to refugees and immigrants, such as teaching English and assisting with homework. The language barrier can be one of the biggest obstacles a refugee faces in making a new life here. By helping a refugee learn English, you’re helping them succeed and find a job. At least 3.7 million refugee children are out of school.
While attending Moody Bible Institute, Sara Scazzaro taught English at the Family Empowerment Center on Devon Avenue for two years. Last year she started tutoring at Devon Oasis in Little India to help kids with homework.
“It’s a natural way to meet practical needs but also to build relationships and enter into their lives,” says Scazzaro, who was invited by a refugee family to celebrate their birthday parties and eat meals together. Her love for refugees has grown. After graduating with her TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) degree in May, she will be moving to Little India to continue serving.
Find a church involved with refugees in the community. Moriah Chambers, who graduates in May, plugged into Devon Oasis and Sabka Sahaara Church in Little India at the recommendation of one of her professors. Through that experience she has become good friends with Surah, a young mom from Afghanistan.
“There’s a language barrier, but over time we’ve had some good, meaningful conversations,” says Chambers, who answered questions after the woman watched the Jesus Film. “God’s opened doors for conversation.”
2. Join in friendship and meeting needs
Bonnie Hill, a junior majoring in Missional Leadership and Nonprofit Management at Moody Bible Institute, lives in Little India with a few other women from Moody. She has found that the number one need of refugees is friendship.
To befriend refugees, she serves with Devon Oasis, doing in-home tutoring and forming relationships with refugees for her Practical Christian Ministry. Bonnie and some Moody friends recently delivered a welcome pack to a new Afghani family in the neighborhood—“dishes, cups, blankets, basic necessities for living in an apartment,’ she says. “They invited us in, and we shared a meal with them, and they were incredibly hospitable and kind, a beautiful family and people.”
We as believers can extend friendship to our arriving refugee neighbors by spending time showing them around the neighborhood. Offer a ride or help them navigate the public transportation system. Accompany them to the grocery store, park, or library. In other words, help make an unfamiliar place familiar.
Start a program at church that encourages members to adopt a refugee family. Then practice hospitality by inviting the family to your home for coffee or a meal, dropping off a gift or baby supplies, or inviting them to join your family for a game night. Offer to help with child care or other needs.
3. Share the love of Christ and pray
Be sensitive to the Spirit as you let His love flow through your actions. Hearts are open and opportunities abound in times of greatest need.
Emily Taylor, a junior at Moody, tutors students at the South Asian Friendship Center in Chicago and visits with their parents on Thursday afternoons. She’s careful not to disrespect their culture, and when visiting a refugee, she has learned to practice “cultural rules,” such as eating what’s in front of you and not watching the clock.
In a recent bilingual Bible study with Hindus, she chose to teach the story of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof and healed by Jesus.
“It’s important to distinguish Jesus from other gods because Hindus will accept Jesus, but they’ll accept Him as one of their gods,” Taylor says. “So they need to see that Jesus is all-powerful.”
Even if you can’t help refugees with your presence or material goods, your prayers on their behalf can move the heart of God. Disha Moreau, a new deaconess at Sabka Sahaara, leads a prayer time for Afghanistan and its refugees every Friday on Zoom.
“This prayer meeting has been a lifeline for me,” she says.
In 1992 Dawn Pulgine was living the American dream. She was married to a successful businessman, parenting three young children she adored, and managing her family’s beautiful home in an affluent neighborhood in Chicago’s western suburbs. If her house had a white picket fence her story would have been befitting of a Norman Rockwell painting.
So when Cindy, Dawn’s best friend from elementary school, invited her to join a weekly women’s Bible study at a nearby church, to say Dawn wasn’t interested would be an understatement.
“I went kicking and screaming the whole way. No way was this Catholic-raised girl going to be influenced by a bunch of ‘Bible-beating crazies,’” Dawn says now with a laugh.
Yet, after repeated prodding (and private prayers) by her friend, Dawn reluctantly relented. To Dawn’s surprise, attending the study opened her eyes to a truth she wasn’t aware of before: She desperately needed Jesus Christ.
After a few months in the small group, Dawn came to saving faith in Christ. Her decision set in motion a chain of events that led Dawn to found and run a unique neighborhood Bible study ministry. Getting Real Ministries [GRM] is geared for women like her who grew up in church and know about Jesus but don’t realize that they need to know Him personally to experience true soul satisfaction.
Dawn is still amazed that she ever agreed to participate in the women’s Bible study at First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Illinois. But as the weeks passed, Dawn grew increasingly impressed with a ministry that drew nearly 200 women from 35 different churches and roughly a dozen denominations.
“It was a melting pot of people all in search of God,” Dawn says. “I think that’s what made it so effective. This was the first time many of us studied the Bible. After a few months I gave my life to Christ during that first study. I learned in detail who Jesus really was, how deeply He loved me, and how much I needed Him.”
After coming to faith in Christ, Dawn and the other women in her small group prayed for her husband’s salvation. Their prayers were answered a few years later when Tony trusted Christ, and the couple soon plugged into First Presbyterian Church.
God’s plans for Dawn were just beginning. When the women’s ministry director of the church left, Dawn agreed to oversee the ministry for seven years.
Then, in 2005 one of Dawn’s neighbors asked her to start a women’s Bible study in the gated golf course community where their two families lived. Dawn knew the risks of evangelizing women who in the world’s eyes had it all but accepted the challenge to lead the study. She found curriculum palatable for a non-Christian audience, distributed a letter inviting women in the neighborhood to join, and then prayed that God would fill open seats.
To Dawn’s astonishment, 23 women arrived at her home for the first meeting. The study blossomed in subsequent months, even attracting women from surrounding communities.
“My target demographic for the study was de-churched women,” Dawn says. “Everyone would have come in and identified with a specific denomination, such as Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, or Lutheran, but other than that they didn’t have a deep faith or relationship with Jesus Christ, and a lot of the women had had bad experiences growing up in church and had stopped going as adults. That’s why I called them de-churched. These were women I could connect and identify with—I used to be one of them.”
By 2007, with Dawn’s small group now ministering to 50 women at a time, God encouraged Dawn to establish GRM, a women’s Bible study ministry built on this “de-churched” concept. To lead GRM full time, the 41-year-old mother of three enrolled at Moody Bible Institute in 2008. Dawn graduated with a BA in Biblical Studies and Communications in December 2013.
“Dawn had the drive, calling, and giftedness, but at Moody she refined those skills to expand her ministry,” says Jamie Janosz, one of Dawn’s professors at Moody. “She sees the Bible not as a philosophy or historical book but as the living, breathing Word of God that transforms lives.”
Based in Aurora, GRM reaches more than 100 women in four countries, now offers Bible study resources for teens and young adults, and runs service projects to aid the poor. In 15 years, GRM has helped hundreds of women trust in Christ and lay a biblical foundation for their faith.
“Most of the women in our studies have given their lives to Christ,” Dawn says. “We’re pretty vocal about their need to come to faith in Christ. They start to see it during a study and it’s really fun to watch God work and lead them to this decision.”
Dawn Pulgine was in an awkward spot. As a wife and young mother, she had placed her faith in Jesus Christ through a local women’s Bible study. But her husband, Tony, wasn’t interested in the teachings of an evangelical church.
After extensive prayer and soul searching, Dawn decided to continue attending their family’s local Catholic church with Tony while asking her small group every week to pray for his salvation. Tony continued resisting the notion of visiting an evangelical church when his company transferred him to a temporary position in Alabama for a year.
“God has the best sense of humor—He sends Tony to the Bible Belt and nearly everyone around him is a Christian,” Dawn says with a laugh.
With Dawn’s Bible study interceding for him and Christian coworkers influencing him, Tony asked Dawn to send him a Bible. He devoured all 66 books in two weeks and then quickly read the Left Behind Christian book series given to him by his administrative assistant.
One night in his hotel room he was channel surfing his TV when he discovered a rerun of a Billy Graham crusade. “Billy Graham says, ‘I’m talking to you, the businessman, and want to tell you the Lord Jesus loves you.’ He was floored by this,” Dawn says. “He began crying, and he put his hope and trust in Jesus Christ right there.”
Who are the de-churched?
Tony and Dawn’s stories are not uncommon. Nearly half of the US population claim to be Christians, but they either aren’t actively involved in a church or don’t encounter the life change produced by an integrated faith.
Acts 29, a global community of evangelical churches, refers to this group as “de-churched.” This term can refer to people who used to be connected to a Christian church as well as those who’ve attended churches that don’t communicate or believe in the biblical gospel.
Why people leave the church
There are a variety of reasons why people stop coming to church. Some have been hurt by the church. Some felt unwelcomed. Others saw the church as irrelevant. Some crowded church out of their lives with other activities. Still others said they encountered hypocrisy in the church. In many cases, people never heard the life-changing message of the gospel from the pulpit, particularly in churches that hold to a liberal theology.
The result? Plenty of people say they are done with church. But that doesn’t mean we should stop ministering to them—because we know that Jesus isn’t done with them.
Serving the de-churched
Reaching the de-churched starts with creating a safe community for them. This can mean listening to them, accepting them, being sensitive to their church background, and coming alongside them as a friend.
When Dawn Pulgine reluctantly agreed to visit a friend’s Bible study, she planned to go to one meeting and then quit. What convinced her to return was the caring attitude expressed by the small group leader.
“Jane, our leader, had us introduce ourselves,” Dawn says. “Everyone went around and said what church and denomination they were from. When it was my turn, I quickly said I was Catholic. Jane just reached over kindly and touched my hand and said, ‘It’s OK. We’re all trying to get to the same place.’ That let me know they weren’t going to bother me for being a Catholic.”
Jane was empathetic to Dawn’s experience, creating a space for her to talk, listen, and be heard.
Be the church
The de-churched may say they gave up on church or have no interest in other church options, but that doesn’t mean they are done with the people of the church. They are still open to community. As Acts 29 reports, “Most actually want and miss community. And they live, work, and play next to us. We should think less of bringing them to church and more about bringing the church to them.”
Dawn can attest to this need for community. After leading neighborhood women’s Bible studies for women who fall in the de-churched category, she established Getting Real Ministries to reach a wider audience of de-churched women than her immediate community.
With Americans' membership in houses of worship dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend, it’s clear that Christians need to be the church in their community when their community is largely unwilling to be in church. Expanding our reach outside our church’s four walls can mean:
- Praying for opportunities to cultivate relationships with de-churched neighbors, colleagues, extended family, and parents of our kids’ friends
- Displaying genuine interest in their lives
- Living out our walk with Christ openly and authentically
- Being prepared to lovingly share biblical truth with de-churched friends when appropriate, such as during conversations about problems or issues they face
- Sharing the gospel or our testimony when we’ve earned the right to do this as a trusted friend
Before Brian Dahlen was part of the morning team on Moody Radio’s WCRF in Cleveland, he had a solo gig: He taught in a public high school. As Brian tells it, the path to becoming a teacher was “an odd thing,” paved by the gift of gab, a fellow student, and Louis Armstrong.
Like most high school seniors, he felt the clock ticking on choosing a college major. After writing and presenting a biographical report on renowned jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong—a report which was so verbose it carried over into the next day’s class—a fellow student said, “Hey, you’re really good at that. You should become a teacher.”
That classmate may not have put much stock in her own comment, but it struck a chord with Brian. Teaching was a logical conclusion for someone who loved a good story, relished the challenge of interacting with teenagers, and could hold an audience’s attention for (almost) an entire class period.
After completing his degree, Brian took a job teaching ninth-grade history, geography, and psychology. While he was always keeping his eyes open for interesting and engaging ways to show the love of Christ, sometimes opportunities seemed to fall right into his lap. Or at least into his lesson plan.
“Legally, teachers weren't allowed to proselytize,” he says. “But I could certainly respond to students. And there are ways to do it creatively within the boundaries of the law that enable you to be clear about your faith.
“For example, when I taught geography, one of the units related to cultural geography was on world religions. I would teach Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and I would generally save Christianity for last. I was able to explain the plan of salvation to ninth-grade students in a way that was fully legal and appropriate.”
Brian’s “love of talking,” as he puts it, not only makes him a funny and captivating radio host now, it also made him a likeable teacher and an engaging ambassador of his faith. And he doesn’t hold to the assumption that because he’s now in full-time ministry he’s somehow serving the Lord more or better than when he was in the public school system.
“We’re supposed to work at whatever we do as if we're working for the Lord,” he says. “I mean, Paul made tents. I don’t think you have to work in ministry to do ministry. In fact, I think it's probably easier to do ministry if you're not in ministry.”
For some Christians, the thought of sharing our faith at work or even discussing Christianity is unnerving.
“Start by living out the teachings of Christ,” suggests Brian. “In everything you do, consider others more important than yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. Be generous, be patient, display the fruits of the Spirit.” He adds, “Don't just pretend to love people—really love them.”
And it helps to connect with believers who share the same desire to be a faithful ambassador in the workplace. Brian looks back on the safety net of encouragement and connection he had through his church and through other Christians in the school system.
“In terms of living out our lives . . . the church is sort of like a three-legged stool,” he says. “It's worship, it’s teaching, and it's community. And I had a community, those close to me in the school who were believers that I was able to lean on.”
And ultimately, he believes that when Christians show coworkers the kind of love, patience, and compassion that Christ has lavished on believers, people will notice. “What I would say is if we truly live out the Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of Christ, we are going to be different. It's going to be obvious that we're different.”
If you work full time, you probably spend 40 hours a week or longer on the job. That means you allocate more time to your employer and interact more with your colleagues than anyone else in your life, even members of your family. Even if you hold a part-time position, you’re still pouring countless hours each year into your workplace.
The vast majority of jobs are with secular businesses or the government, so chances are many of your coworkers don’t share your personal faith in Jesus Christ. This makes your company a mission field where you can be salt and light to those around you.
How can you take advantage of this opportunity to Live the Gospel while you fulfill your job responsibilities? Brian Dahlen has four Bible-based principles you may find helpful putting into practice in your own work experience. Before joining Moody Radio, Brian taught history for six years at a public high school in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Today he is cohost of Brian and Jannelle Mornings and the Brian and Jannelle Podcast on Moody Radio Cleveland and also hosts The Grandfather Effect, an exciting new podcast debuting May 19.
#1: Build genuine, agenda-free friendships with colleagues
As you get to know those you work with, you’ll likely learn quickly which ones haven’t embraced Christ as their Savior. You may be tempted to view them simply as unbelievers in need of salvation. Commit yourself to avoid merely treating them as targets for evangelism.
“While I certainly hoped I’d have the opportunity to talk to colleagues about Jesus, I didn’t make that the motive for my investment in the relationship,” Brian says. “As educators in a social studies department, we automatically had a number of interests in common. Many of us were also raising families. These areas of common ground became the building blocks for genuine friendships.”
#2: Approach your job with appropriate humility
Once your colleagues learn you are a Christian, those who don’t profess Christ will especially be watching how you conduct yourself on the job. A humble attitude will make a positive first and lasting impression. In a sense, it’ll “earn” you opportunities to share details about your faith and communicate the gospel. Your coworkers will be more responsive to discussing spiritual matters and hearing your faith perspective.
“A number of educators in my school were legitimately better teachers than me. They had more experience and were excellent at what they did,” Brian says. “As a new teacher, I made it a point to acknowledge their skills and ask for help in learning from them. I spent time observing some of them teach and asked others for help coming up with lesson plans. I told them when I was struggling and asked for their advice.
“It was important to me that as they found out about my faith, they had genuine belief and experience that I’m not a self-righteous Christian.”
#3: Be honest and respectful about your faith
Whether explaining your testimony, offering a biblical viewpoint to a discussion, or giving Scripture-tinged advice, when you can talk about your faith with another employee, how you share is just as important as what you share.“Through various opportunities in conversation with colleagues, I was slowly able to insert my faith in Jesus,” Brian says. “While other Christians in our department tended toward debate and argument, I tried to display as much respect and kindness as I could toward those with other belief systems.”
#4: Be patient and curious
It’s easy to see unbelieving colleagues through a narrow lens. Unsaved coworkers desperately need the gospel. But they undoubtedly won’t be receptive unless a healthy relationship has been established.
“I developed a particularly close friendship with another teacher who was openly agnostic,” Brian says. “We chatted between classes, got together outside of school, and even coached together for a sports team at the school. We were open with each other about our beliefs and would occasionally tease each other about them in good fun. We would have friendly debates about our differences and ask each other hard questions.”
The kind of mutual friendship that Brian describes takes two-way communication and sincere interest expressed in the other person.
“I did my best to display genuine curiosity about his life and his beliefs about a variety of issues. He extended that same curiosity toward me,” Brian says. “Then, after six years of working together, he specifically asked me about Jesus. We had some down time during a parent-teacher conference night, and he came to me and wanted to know more about Christian beliefs about Jesus. We are still friends to this day, and I’m praying that one day he’ll surrender his life to Jesus.”
Moody Radio Cleveland's communications specialist, Kelly Reiter, was sifting through her station's mail when she spotted a handwritten letterfrom, of all places, a local prison. The letter read:
I am an incarcerated veteran who for years has wanted to contact yourradio station and let you know what a profound effect your programminghas in my walk with Christ. With all the spiritual and physicaldisabilities that I experience here in prison, the daily access to yourstation has been a blessing.
I have strayed away from the Word both here and on the street, fallingaway into sin, despair, and hopelessness. But Jesus is always faithfulto forgive me and through the Holy Spirit restores me to where He wantsme to be.
I have recently been blessed with the ability to donate what I canfinancially. Despite my otherwise limited veteran disability income, Iam excited to be able to give at least something, knowing that itcontributes to the ongoing messages of love and hope that Christ freelygives to all who call on His blessed name. I can't wait to hear fromyou. God bless you all!
The correspondence was from an incarcerated veteran thanking the stationfor its Christ-centered focus and offering to support WCRF's ministry.Kelly was instantly touched by the letter and quickly wrote back to explainhow Thomas could give. She then presented Thomas's letter to the rest ofthe station's staff. The next day, WCRF's program hosts read the letterover the air to encourage and motivate their listeners during Spring Share,Moody Radio's annual spring pledge drive.
But that was only the beginning of the story.
A day later, the WCRF program Brian and Jannelle Mornings receiveda text message from Sue. A faithful Moody Radio Cleveland listener foryears, she wanted to know where she could mail a letter to Thomas.
"Sue is a sweet, retired, widowed woman in her seventies whose calling isserving homeless veterans," Kelly says. "I texted Sue to let her know thatif she sent a letter to the station, I would mail it to Thomas. But Icouldn't make any promises he would write back."
Shortly after Sue's message, the WCRF staff was stunned to receive a $150donation in the mail from Thomas. His sacrificial gift immediately remindedKelly of the story about the widow's mite inLuke 21:1-4. A poor widow gave two small copper coins to the temple. Her humble actprompted Jesus to say, "Truly I tell you . . . this poor widow has put inmore than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of theirwealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
Yet that still wasn't the end of the story.
One morning last fall Kelly was sorting the station mail when she noticed areturn address from the correctional facility. It was another letter fromThomas and read:
I am happy and blessed to once again be able to contribute the enclosed amount, which helps myself and others to continue to receive theongoing word-to-life programming that your radio station provides. Andlike so many others, it is especially important to me to know that nomatter what circumstances may come my way as an inmate, I can alwayscount on 24-hour-a-day Moody Radio Cleveland programming.
If I may submit a prayer request: Ms. Sue is a devout listener whocontinues to find the time and patience to write me, an inmate veteran.Please pray for her continued strength.
Thank you, and God bless all of you,
In the envelope Kelly also discovered another surprise-Thomas had doubledhis gift to WCRF to $300. "I am beyond blessed and humbled by this story,"Kelly says. "I only hope I can be half as generous or obedient to what Godhas in store for me."
The Bible is full of great truths for our lives —and mysteries we don't understand. Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Moody professor and host of the Moody Radio call-in show Open Line, answers the questions that listeners often ask him. In the excerpt below, Michael addresses the question “What is the gospel?” from his new book, 50 Most Important Bible Questions, from Moody Publishers—our gift to you when you support our Live the Gospel campaign.
The Meaning of the Gospel
In 1 Corinthians 15:1, Paul uses the word “gospel,” two Greek words put together into one, to mean “good news.” In verses 1–2 Paul says that he proclaimed this message of good news and the Corinthians have “received” it; they were able to “stand” in it, and most vitally, they were “saved” by it. This is the essential message of the faith, and he delivered it to them as of first importance.
Just as Paul and his listeners understood this core message, we too must understand and believe the gospel message to experience God’s redemption and forgiveness in Jesus. So, what exactly is the gospel?
The Substitutionary Death of Jesus
The first part of this good news is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4: the Messiah Jesus died. Paul gives the reason for the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—it was “for our sins.” Jesus died as a sin substitute, taking the punishment we deserved.
Paul then gives evidence that Jesus really died as our sin substitute. The first part of the evidence is biblical—it was “according to the Scriptures,” meaning Old Testament passages like Isaiah 53 which foretold Messiah’s substitutionary death on our behalf. In His death, Jesus received the punishment we deserved.
The second part of Paul’s evidence is historical: “He was buried.” Paul is asserting that Jesus really died; it wasn’t a sham. Our Savior didn’t merely swoon or appear to be dead. He truly, honestly died. If He had not died, He would not have been buried.
The Resurrection of Jesus
The second aspect of the good news, found in 1 Corinthians 15:4-8, is that the Messiah Jesus was raised from the dead (“He was raised on the third day,” 1 Cor. 15:4). This crucial element is frequently overlooked when explaining the good news by preachers, theologians, even evangelists.
One reason the resurrection is so important is that it validated Jesus’ deity; it proved He is really God. You see, anyone can claim to be God, but how do we know that Jesus, who claimed to be God in the flesh, really was God? The proof is found in the resurrection. God the Father validated Jesus’ claim by raising Him from the dead.
A second reason the resurrection of Jesus is so crucial is that it gives us new life in Him. The Bible says, “. . . as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). It is because Jesus is alive that we have His resurrection power to live new lives in Him.
Just as he did for the death of the Messiah, Paul gives two lines of evidence for His resurrection. First, the biblical evidence is that it was “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). Likely Paul has in mind passages like Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 53:10–11, which predicted the Messiah’s resurrection.
Second, there’s historical evidence that He was seen alive after the crucifixion, particularly 1 Corinthians 15:5–8. This evidence proves that Jesus really is alive.
So often, when people present the good news, they say that “Jesus died for our sins.” That’s true, but that’s not all of it. We must include that second part: Jesus is alive, that He was raised from the dead! The Romans crucified 20,000 Jewish men in the first century. But only our Redeemer was raised from the dead.
Here’s the good news in a nutshell: Jesus died for our sins and rose again, proving He is God. That’s it! The gospel is not about going forward at an altar call, raising our hands, getting baptized, joining a church, or even feeling really bad for all the wrong we’ve done. It’s a simple, essential truth: Messiah Jesus died for our sins and rose again, proving He is God.
Now what would I say to the guy in the car accident in 25 words or less? The wrong things we do separate us from God. Messiah Jesus died, taking our punishment, and rose again, proving He is God. Trust in Him. That’s 25 words!
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