Once you were under God's curse, doomed forever for your sins. You went along with the crowd and were just like all the others, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air, who is at work right now in the hearts of those who are against the Lord. All of us used to be just as they are, our lives expressing the evil within us, doing every wicked thing that our passions or our evil thoughts might lead us into. We started out bad, being born with evil natures, and were under God's anger just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead - only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved - and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms - all because of what Christ Jesus did. And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ.
Because of his kindness you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others. Ephesians 2:1-10 (TLB)
Terri Foster is from South Carolina. Strip clubs aren't places you would typically expect a church group to go in search of friends. But for years, Terri's friend Tonya and other women from her church went there regularly to cultivate relationships. With permission from club owners, the church women gave female employees free toiletries. Many of the recipients were single mothers, struggling to make ends meet, and they gladly received the gifts. after a while, the church group got opportunities to meet with the women during non-work hours, They listened, offered support, met practical needs, and shared spiritual truth about Jesus from the Bible.
It took courage and perseverance to do something so unconventional. Was it without risk? Definitely not. Was it Christlike? Absolutely.
Jesus invited all kinds of people to come into the kingdom of God. It didn't matter if onlookers misunderstood or gossiped. Everyone needs God's grace. If we're followers of Jesus, we'll look for ways to extend it - even in unconventional places.
Sometimes we need to go out into our community to reach people, but we can also do it right in our church when someone comes to visit. We may not agree with their life choices but we all need to be loved, and we are all children of God. By showing God's love we may reach someone just as the women in this story reached out to women struggling to make ends meet.
Prayer: God of all, open our eyes and hearts to the hurting world around us. Help us to take every opportunity to share out faith with others no matter where we meet them, in Jesus' name, amen