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Giving the gift of life

By Steve R. Mills

A TV commercial urges, "Give the gift of life today." It encourages people to give to the local blood bank. One program talks about disadvantaged children around the world and pleads with us to "give life" to these children by sending money to help feed and educate them. Give the gift of life! It is wonderful to realize we can give the gift of life to those whose lives and well-being depend on us.

Give life. That's what Jesus did when He came to helpless, hopeless humanity. That's what our Heavenly Father did by sending His only begotten Son. To give or not to give life is not an option for the believer; it's a responsibility. If one has experienced being born again, he must share it.

Our churches and Sunday schools must accept the responsibility and privilege of giving life. Often we look at people around us and fail to be moved by their condition.

We engage in activities that make us feel good about ourselves. We involve ourselves with good things, but fail to be about the Father's business of "Giving Life."

T.O. Wedel's story about a lifesaving station reveals some important truths about Sunday schools and churches.

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occurred was a small lifesaving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. With no thought for themselves, they went out day or night, tirelessly searching for the by

So many lives were saved by this wonderful little station that it became famous. Many of those who were saved and others wanted to give their time, money, and effort to support its work. They bought new boats and trained new crews.

The station became a popular gathering place for its members. Few were interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club decoration, however, and there was a liturgical lifesaving boat in the room where member initiations took place.

One night a large ship wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boats loaded with cold, wet, nearly drowned people. They were dirty and sick. Some had black skin, and others had yellow skin.

As the crew worked to save lives, the beautiful new club became messy. So the property committee had a shower house built outside where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming into the main facility.

At the next meeting, there was a split among the club members. Most of them wanted to stop the lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal activities of the club. Some members, however, insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose, and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. These members were voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of shipwrecked people, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club, and so another lifesaving station was founded. If you visit that coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.

What is your Sunday school? A real lifesaving station or an exclusive club? Here are some suggestions to help your Sunday school and church be a lifesaving, life-giving station.

1. Create a lifesaving, life-giving mentality among your members.

Teach that the lostness of man is a reality. People are lost if they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. The lost will spend eternity without God.

Stimulate compassion and concern for the lost. The first step is to be aware of others' needs. Exposure to the needs and hurts in people's lives creates concern.

Keep the focus on outreach. In your Sunday school activities, programs, classes, and curricula, make outreach a priority. Don't plan to minister only to those inside the walls of the church. Plan to minister to those outside as well.

2. Enroll the unchurched in your Sunday school.

Identify the unchurched friends, neighbors, and relatives of your church family. Write their names on your class rolls. Have the class pray regularly for them. Encourage each class to reach the unchurched people who are on its enrollment list

3. Develop relationships with lost persons.

People need people. They desire supportive relationships. Sunday school is the best place to build relationships. The Sunday school that builds relationships with non-Christians will be able to give life.

Visit the unchurched. Encourage members to visit the unchurched to build relationships and ultimately make new disciples for Christ

4. Train people to always be lifegivers.

The early Christians "went everywhere preaching the Good News about Jesus" (Acts 8:4, TLB). Our whole purpose for being is to witness for Christ. When evangelism becomes a consuming passion in our Sunday schools, they will be life-giving stations.

Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Life, not death. Life, not constant hopelessness. Life, not nagging guilt and condemnation. Life----filled with abundant joy, overwhelming peace, and eternal hope. Give the gift of life through your Sunday school by making it a place where people find the abundant life that Jesus offers to all.


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