I was speaking today to around 30 parents and carers on the work of Iris Ministries and in particular on the work in the baby houses in one of the five child care centres run by Rolland and Heidi Baker.
If you don't know anything about this particular couple, let me just say that they have spent most of their time since 1994 in Mozambique facing death threats, sickness, corruption and bureacracy. Iris Ministries now has emerged as one of the leading humanitarian organisations working with the poor in Mozambique (and now expanding into Malawi, Sudan and DRC).
They now care for over 3000 children. They have planted 5000 churches, training pastors and encouraging them to adopt up to ten children (I like that touch! - imagine if that were part of theological training here!)
I was speaking to people in the main who don't go to church. And you know what? I didn't feel like watering down the truth of what Iris achieves. The Bakers deliver "good news to the poor" and as Heidi says: what's the point in saying "say this little prayer after me, if the child has no clothes? or is sick? or can't read?" I showed a little of the documentary where she talks of God caring for the WHOLE person. I know a woman from Birmingham who works in the baby house and I told of the miracles she has seen - food appearing on the table when there was none, presents at Christmas never running out as hundreds of children form queues at the rubbish dump church to receive a gift, deaf and dumb children healed, AIDS tests reversed and - perhaps most moving of all for me - crushed and wounded spirits being restored. Most of the children who come to Iris have been abandoned by their parents.
Someone said to me that I was very bold to speak of such things. That it stirred things they'd rather not think about. I want to cry with frustration. Because we have so much, we believe so little. There is no need. Our lives are crammed with things that entertain much, look lovely, taste yummy, suit us beautifully, pass time creatively and fixate us materially that we PERHAPS don't need and long for the kingdom of God to come in quite the same way as a naked, desperate, lonely, sick child.
I'm challenged to the core.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.