Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.–Romans 10:1 The apostle Paul was used mightily of God because he never forgot what was most important. He understood that his mission was to win the lost to Christ and he refused to shift his focus to anything else. Sadly, we often fail to keep the main thing the main thing. The following story by Terry Bell serves to remind us how important it is that we keep our priorities straight:
The year was 1969. It was my first “real” mission trip. I was in a little village in South India and terribly homesick. I was 20 years old and starving for a “good ole” American cheeseburger. I had not had one in 2 1/2 months.
The land around me was semi-jungle, semi-bush. Tarzan would have felt right at home, but I did not.
One boring afternoon I whiled away the hours by playing with the monkeys that forever enlivened our premises. Standing out on the balcony, I teased the little primate creeps by giving them doughballs made from a loaf of bread I was holding. A hairy hand (or is it a paw?) would reach over the edge of the roof, I would place a morsel in it, and like lightning, it was retracted to the squealing and grunting delight of his monkey-minded buddies. What a great game!
Suddenly I realized that on the street below my balcony a crowd had gathered. They were not nearly as entertained by this “monkeying around” as I was. One thin-faced, sickly looking boy looked up at me with bulging eyes. In broken English, he said, “Master, feed poor boys, not monkeys.”
It was like a stab in the heart. In the street below were orphans, beggars, lepers … the off-scourings of humankind. Mothers and fathers who had starving children. Children who watched malnourished parents die. Parents who would watch their hungry children watching them die, knowing they left them to a miserable life on the streets. And there I was, playing games with the bread that for them was so precious. I was cut to the heart.
Every day this scene is reenacted in thousands of padded-pew churches, whose priorities are playing games with monkeys.