Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Gospel changes Lives

We say the Gospel changes lives, yet many people seem to make few, if any, changes in their lives after they become Christians. Rom. 6:1-4 reminds us that we have died to sin and so can no longer live in it. 2 Pet. 1:5-8 teaches clearly that faith is only the beginning, not the end--we must continue to grow and become more Christ like. But there are many examples of people whom the Gospel has changed.
Sister Carmencita "little Carmen" of Barinas, Venezuela is one such person. The first time the preacher visited her she was in bed, where she had been for some months--unable to even sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. When she heard the Gospel for the first time she begged him to come back in two days and before a week was out she had been baptized. Before her debilitation had taught self defense and those kinds of things on the police force. When she was still in her mid 20's she began slowly to lose strength and although they have never been able to see why, she weakened to the point that her life was lying on her bed. After awhile I'm sure depression set in, only making things worse, but when she obeyed the Gospel she had a new reason to live. For the first several years she was carried, literally, to each service of the church. Over time she began to gain more strength and the last time I was in Barinas she actually walked into the building--she had to hold someone's hand for balance, but she was walking on her own. She seldom misses a service and takes note of who is absent, who is sick, etc.
Carmencita is still limited in what she can do physically--she tires easily and gets sick readily, but she doesn't allow her limitations to "get her down". The brethren know if they are absent they will receive a call from Carmencita. In fact, some have said there are times they've thought about not going, but decided to go because they didn't want to have to "explain" to Carmencita why they weren't there. A few years ago when cell phones became reasonable in Venezuela Carmencita got one and she uses it frequently in the Lord's work--to call the sick, to call another brother/sister to attend to the needs of the sick, to encourage preachers, etc. I'm confident if text messaging was available to the US from her cell phone that I would receive a text message almost every day--I know several preachers there who get at least one encouraging message each day.
When I "don't feel like" doing this or that I think of Sister Carmencita. I think to myself, "If Carmencita can go to every service, why can't I? If Carmencita can humble herself to ask for help, not only for herself, but for others in need, so can I." The Gospel changes lives even today, regardless of how it may seem.

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