Amidst the vast scene of the world’s problems and tragedies you may feel that your own ministry seems so small, so insignificant, so concerned with the trivial. What a tiny difference it can make to the world that you should run a youth club, or preach to a few people in a church, or visit families with seemingly small result. But consider: the glory of Christianity is its claim that small things really matter and that the small company, the very few, the one man, the one woman, the one child are of infinite worth to God. Consider our Lord himself. Amidst a vast world with its vast empires and vast events and tragedies our Lord devoted himself to individual men and women, often giving hours and time to the very few or to the one man or woman. In a country where there were movements and causes which excited the allegiance of many – the Pharisees, the Zealots, the Essenes, and others – our Lord gives many hours to one woman of Samaria, one Nicodemus, one Martha, one Mary, one Lazarus, one Simon Peter, for the infinite worth of the one is the key to the Christian understanding of the many. (Archbishop Michael Ramsey, Christian Priest Today, 42)
This week in Lebanon we’ve met some pretty impressive ministry by any human standards. The NGOs, bible college and broadcasting studios on ‘holy hill’ each built with faith-stretching boldness and vision, the church reaching 3000 people in person across 42 ‘tribes’ (hub churches) besides a broadcasting ministry to rival a major conference, the humanitarian work in complexes near the Syrian border. But so often it is the seemingly insignificant, small or trivial that caught the eye. The individuals. The rare people who could see the power of one.
Among those were an English couple who blessed us mightily. They had a rare ability to walk into a room and be with people and simply love them. We met scores of people whose lives had been changed by that simple attentiveness, grandparental kindness, smiles and love. Still developing as Arabic speakers their communication was often through presence and gesture more than through words. They weren’t trained doctors, relief workers or even teachers or pastors, but they knew the infinite worth of the one, and the one invariably responded to them.
This rare quality was just one sign among many that God’s work is often most clearly seen in the humble.
In many ways Lebanon was a walking parable of the beatitudes. The poor, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those persecuted all had tremendous stories to tell on great blessings.
God’s upside down Kingdom is a manifesto that belies simple strategy. If you want to see what he is doing and join in you have to look beyond the well funded, well organised, well resourced and structured, however visionary and inspiring they may be. It’s in the ‘one’ that God is most clearly seen time and time again. But sometimes you need someone humble to help you spot them.