For God’s Glory: The Power of Seeing and Going
Merry Christmas from all of the staff and board of directors at Operation Inasmuch! It has been a fast-paced, quick-moving year for us and we are looking forward to slowing down and spending some quality time with family. We are also looking forward to worshipping and celebrating Jesus during this Christmas season. We pray this newsletter finds your family well, and we pray for JOY over your Christmas season.
Of course, this is always the time of year to look back and reflect on the current year while also beginning to look ahead at the year ahead of us. We thank God every time we think about the people who support this ministry, as well as all of the churches that are serving faithfully, reaching out to folks in compassion ministry throughout their communities and around the world.
As we work and try to help spread the mission of this ministry, one of our main goals is that God receives all of the glory! This month’s article is just about that. Seeing a need in front of us, responding in obedience, and giving God all of the Glory.
I was just listening to a podcast that was teaching in John 9. In this chapter, Jesus and his disciples walk by a man at the synagogue who is blind. There is so much to draw out of what happens next. First, Jesus sees this man. I mean, really sees this man. Not like we often do. We might see a person in need who may have a disability or a person who is dirty or homeless. We might see a piercing, a tattoo, or even a different lifestyle and we already have made our minds up about this particular person. Jesus didn’t see this man the way his disciples saw this man. He NOTICED this man. Jesus saw the whole person!
You can tell the disciples didn’t really see the whole person because their very first inclination was to get theological about why this person was in need to begin with, why he was blind. We know that people in Jesus’ time believed that things like blindness, deformities, disease, etc, usually meant that either they had sinned or their families had sinned. It was a punishment or a consequence. The disciples MISSED THIS MOMENT. Instead of stepping into action to help, they wanted to make assumptions or deductions based on the social constructs of their time. Don’t we do that too!
I love Jesus’ answer. He didn’t tell them why he was blind, but he told them the PURPOSE OF WHY he was blind from birth, and that was so the works of God might be displayed in him, the glory of God would be revealed through him. God had a purpose in his suffering.
The disciples missed this chance to help and show this man love because they did not have the same spiritual sight as Jesus did. How about us? Are we asking God to give us His eyes and see how we can make an impact in the needs around us?
There is a theme throughout scripture about obeying Jesus even when we can’t see the end game or the greater plan. Now, let’s take a look at the blind man. Jesus spits in the dirt and makes mud, which he applies to his eyes. Jesus tells this man to go and wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. He didn’t tell him why or even ask him if he wanted to be healed. You have to assume that this blind man, even though he couldn’t see, had probably heard of Jesus and his miracles, but still, the blind man really didn’t know WHY he was to make his way to this pool and wash his eyes. But he, even in his blindness (both spiritually and physically), knew that if this guy, Jesus, was telling him to do something, it was probably going to be for his good. How much more should we go when God tells us to go, knowing that He wants good things for His children?
Of course, all of this leads me to think about Operation Inasmuch. I tend to look at things with Operation Inasmuch tinted glasses, and this account in John 9 reminded me so much about this ministry. It reminded me of the first church, Snyder Memorial Baptist, that stepped out 28 years ago to SEE their community in a different way. They wanted to get to know them, serve them, and love them in the middle of their needs. They did not know what was about to happen. They didn’t know the plan. And what happened, God used their obedience to change the world.
We recently had our annual dinner here in Knoxville for supporters and we were taking the time to look back through the years at all of the accomplishments of God through this ministry. We compiled some statistics dating back just the last 11 years, and the numbers made our mouths drop open. Yes, this is where we would enter the mind-blown emoji. Since 2012, there have been 5,500 Inasmuch events and 267,000 church folks and volunteers that have served. That is a combined 38-million-dollar value of ministry over that span. And the best statistic of all… 2 million people have been served as a result of Operation Inasmuch. And that is just since 2012… the ministry began full-time in 2007, so these numbers are realistically much higher. God told the first church to do an Inasmuch Day so he would get the glory for all of this! Praise God, Glory in the Highest!
This passage in John 9 also made me think about David Crocker. David is officially retiring in about 2 weeks from the Inasmuch ministry. He partially retired about 8 years ago, but now, it’s officially official. David was the leader when the first church in Fayetteville stepped out in obedience. David stepped out in 2007, NOT KNOWING THE FULL PLAN, and began doing this ministry full-time. He taught and encouraged countless congregations to SEE and ACT on the needs around them. This ministry of compassion was God’s brainchild, but David was the tool he used to make it go. If you read this and have a chance, make sure you reach out and encourage David in his retirement. He would love to hear from you and maybe even go on a kayak or bike ride with you.
We will miss David as we move into 2024. God has more and more plans for Operation Inasmuch, and we are excited to see what God has in store for this ministry. Thank you for your prayers and financial support, as we can not continue to do ministry without it.
And lastly, I want to encourage you to notice people in need, see them the way Jesus did. And then once you see them, ACT on it. Show compassion! After all, shouldn’t the church be doing what Jesus did?