Caring Like Jesus Cared
It is estimated that around 70% of the population in Guinea-Bissau lives below the poverty line
(approximately $1.00 a day). This means that most of the population has difficulties in obtaining basic
necessities such as water and food. In our routine here in Guinea-Bissau, unfortunately, we stopped doing
that, and this makes the work of preaching the good regular, since we also need to pay attention to these
needs that people here have.
We recently had a very remarkable experience. In our group of children that we see on Saturday
afternoons, several of them are very poor and go through various hardships. One of the girls called Nelsia
came to me and said “pape di Matheus, ami fasi anu aós” (Matheus’s father, today is my birthday). We
were very happy together with her, we sang “Happy Birthday” and promoted a very festive moment.
At the end of the meeting I wanted her what she would like to receive as a gift. As she is a 10 year old girl, I
expected her to ask for a toy, something like a ball or a doll. But he looked at the floor in a sign of shyness,
and in a very low voice said she wanted a slipper. Yes, just a slipper (approximately $1.00). That’s when I
noticed that his feet were bare, with the marks of the dust then characteristic of Guinea-Bissau. Needless
to say, I was thrilled and very thoughtful.
The following week we took Nelsia’s slippers and some other things we bought, and her joy was expressed
in a naive but at the same time profound smile. When we gave her the slipper we asked her if she liked it,
then Nelsia smiled shyly and said yes, and hugged us. At that moment I told her that slipper was a gift from
Jesus to her, not just ours. I told her that every time she wore a slipper she should remember that Jesus
cares about her and is taking care of everything, every detail of her life. He loves her and cares about her.
Stories like Nelsia’s make us reflect on the importance of representing Jesus to these people, and not just in
speech, but in actions, in practice. It is important to bring the gospel to people, but along with this gospel,
we must meet their needs, certainly as Jesus would. The focus of our work should not be to make the
natives love us, but to make them understand the love Jesus has for them so that they can love him too.
In a simple act, little Nelsia experienced the love of Jesus for her, and I am convinced that actions like this
need to happen more often, for the people of Guinea-Bissau to know the great love of God for them.
Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one
who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their
confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me.”—The Ministry of Healing, 143