Pr Bill Wilson is a man who knows the hard side of life. Abandoned by his mother when he was a young boy, for three days he waited at that street corner before he was adopted and raised by a Christian man who had struggles of his own with a leukaemia-stricken child. That man paid the way for Bill to attend a Christian summer camp, an act that gave his life hope and changed it completely.
Today Pr Bill is the founder and senior pastor of Metro World Child, America’s largest ministry to children with branches in various nations. From the back of buses and converted trucks, he reaches out to the poor in the slums and to children all over the world, giving them not just material need, but more importantly, a sense of worth and love from an Almighty God.
Despite the successes of his ministry, the daily realities he has to face are still there and the challenges are great. In an effort to stay connected to the people he cares for, he stays in a building adjacent to the church where he ministers. He walks that dangerous neighbourhood everyday and over the years he has been shot, stabbed, beaten and hospitalized many times yet he remains committed to his work.
Inevitably the questions come. Why does he continue on in this work? What does he see in the areas he goes to? The everyday man sees plenty of hardship and he balks. Such a life in such an environment seem unimaginable to the natural eyes. What do you see when God calls you as His minister in such places?
In a message he shared at DUMC recently, however, Pr Bill shared on three levels of realities that Christians are called to see with. In John 20, we read of these three ways of seeing through the testimonies of the people around an empty tomb. This was at a time when Jesus had just been crucified and resurrected, but the people did not know about the latter yet, only the former.
The first level of seeing concerns what Mary Magdalene saw (John 20:1). She saw that the heavy stone had been removed from the tomb and that it was empty. Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. Pr Bill shared that the Greek word used here was “blepo”, that is, to see with the bodily eyes. Mary did not understand what she saw. From this level, one could progress either to premises formed by our mind or to true understanding.
After Mary, Peter came running along next, together with another disciple. The other disciple reached the tomb first, saw the linen, but did not go in. Peter went straight into the tomb and also saw the linen, as well as the cloth that was used to wrap around the head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen (John 20:6).
The original word used by Scripture to describe what Peter saw was “theoreo”, from which the English word, Theory, originates. Peter saw the same thing as Mary did but unlike the mystified Mary, he immediately formed a hypothesis to explain what he saw. Pr Bill shared that Mary saw with her eyes while Peter saw with his mind. Information and enlightenment and such are important to help us along with our understanding but they can only go so far. Peter still could not put the pieces together.
Finally, the other disciple, John, came in. He saw and the Bible states that he believed. The word used here this time is “eido”, that is, to see and believe. While Mary saw with her eyes and Peter saw with his mind, John saw with his heart. This is the kind of seeing into the things of God and the kind of understanding that God wants every Christian to possess. John saw with his heart and he gained full understanding of the resurrection of Christ, and it was real.
Pr Bill shared that seeing and experiencing changes everything. In our walk with God, we need to see things with ‘eido’. Be someone who sees with the heart and whatever that God has called you to do, you will not give up. Do we truly see and believe the things we profess to believe?
He later shared the story of Dirk Willems. Dirk Willems was a deeply-committed Dutch Christian, very outspoken, and he got persecuted for his faith. One winter day he managed to escape from prison, but when his pursuer fell through the ice and almost drowned, he turned back, and rescued the man. In return, he was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to be burnt at the stake. When the others asked him why he turned back, his answer was simple; he couldn’t help it – it was a reflex action. When it is a reflex, you don’t have a choice.
Water at 0 degree Celsius and 100 degree Celsius take on different form. At 0 Celcius, it is solid, at 100 Celcius, parts of it begin to turn into vapor. Same chemical composition but something has changed in the water due to the effect of a fire underneath the boiling water. When God enters into a person’s life, things change.
We always say that we want changes in our lives. But what if it is necessary for us to enter into a challenging situation or process for those changes to take effect? We always say we want change but we want comfortable change. Pr Bill imparted that sometimes God’s working in our lives can be uncomfortable.
In 2 Corinthians 5:13, it is written that the love of Christ constrains us. This word constrain in the Bible comes from the Greek word “sunecho”. Everytime it is used by Paul, it means 3 different things at the same time. These three different things exist on a primary, secondary, and tertiary level.
The first is that the love of Christ is a motivating factor. It directs us towards something and is the spark of a Christian discipleship and journey. Whatever good works it directs us to, we cannot help but to do it.
The second is that the love of Christ keeps us away from the enemy. It stops us from doing what the enemy wants us to do.
And most importantly, the love of Christ keeps us in it, in whatever form or expression it takes, be it the ministry, the church, or the Word. It sustains us so that we can keep doing what we are called to do.
To have this love, we need to be connected with Christ. Not just to be near Him, but to abide in Him. When the plug connects with the source, change happens. We cannot help it. When we abide in Christ, we take on His character and we start and grow on a journey directed true north, to be more and more like Him everyday.
When Pr Bill Wilson was still an abandoned young boy at a street corner, one man saw and what he saw changed the lives of countless people today. For that man did not just see, but what he saw resulted in action. From the act that brought hope and purpose into one life, it has blossomed and brought the love of Christ to countless others. This is the power of the Gospel and one person abiding in that Gospel can change the world.
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