Editorial: June 2010
Dr. Augustine Pinto started his career as a teacher on June 2, 1976 in a one room garage in Bombay (now Mumbai), with about 20 students and one part-time teacher. Now, in 34 years, by the dedicated efforts, Dr. & Mrs. Grace Pinto have established 115 educational institutions in 15 States, with 200,000 students and 10,000 (teaching and non-teaching) staff.
Dhirubai Ambani started out as a petrol pump attendant. He worked hard and built wealth for himself and the people who had trusted him. Now, his two sons, the Ambani brothers, preside over India's largest business empires. One brother became Number One, the other, Number Two.
Over 40 years ago, Beulah Bonugli lived in Rhodesia with her husband, trapped in an abusive marriage. One night she decided she had had enough and walked out with her belongings and her two children. She fled to South Africa in a small car, without telling her husband. She had no formal education, had no job and absolutely no means for support. She took refuge in a church; she and her children lived off the dole and eating at a soup kitchen for two years. She found a job as an Assistant in a bank. From what she earned, she put herself through some formal education. With new skills and greater confidence, she rose to become a Secretary. One day, quite by chance, she found a business opportunity. She toiled day and night to make the business grow. Eventually, Beulah created a business empire for herself, becoming one of the wealthiest women in South Africa. She now owns a small bank in South Africa and nine Pilatus aircrafts! She also runs a company which funds hire purchase of goods.
18-year-old Ramesh, the son of a middle class farmer, ran away from his house in Gujarat to Mumbai and found work at a colour print studio. He stayed there for 10 years, mopping floors apart from work and studies. A fast learner, he soon established his own colour print studio in Ahmedabad, eventually turning it into a top class software development company. Ramesh has come up with a mapping software described as "revolutionary." His Scanpoint Geomatics (SGL) has won the tender, issued by ISRO, for supplying software to analyse data from satellites. SGL-supplied software is superior to the foreign ones and is cheaper. A home-grown feather in the Indian IT cap!
Oprah Winfrey is the most celebrated talk show host in the world. She came from a disadvantaged family and was a victim of abuse as a child and in marriage. She, however, showed the world what grit and determination can achieve. There is no match for her in media today. She changed her life, transformed the lives of millions of people and continues to exert enormous influence over millions of ambitious young women all around the world.
Captain Gopinath, the son of a poor school teacher with nothing but a paltry sum of Rs.6500/-, built Air Deccan, a low cost airline in the face of several challenges including bureaucratic hurdles and corruption. His courage, determination, energy, relentless persistence, hard work without despair, patience, ingenuity, humility, integrity and indomitable spirit enabled him to take risks in life to create healthy competitiveness in the aviation sector. As a farmer, he ended up winning the Rolex award. As a boy he went riding a bullock cart; he rose to own an airline. He was a helicopter missionary at all hours of the day, all days of the week. His passion was to see the common man from the small town to be able to fly. He revived the culture of innovation and efficiency. He proved to the world that it is not the resources, but the ability to be resourceful, that sees you through difficult situations, in this land of unlimited opportunities. JRD Tata used to remark: “Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without deep thought and hard work.”
If individuals with a burning passion can make such achievements, what is it that we cannot accomplish with the help of the Holy Spirit for God's glory?
In the life of a Christian, dedication refers to the act of setting apart from the ordinary affairs of life and presenting to God for His Service. Jesus was consecrated to God (Jn.17:19). He set Himself apart to do His Father's will, and this meant dying for sin (Jn.12:27;17:4). He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice (Heb.10:11-14). Jesus has also set believers apart for God. It involves the practical offering of ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Acts 20:24; Rom.12:1). All of us should be fully devoted to God. Christ has bought us at the price of His blood and we belong to Him. We are disciples of our Lord and servants of our Master. Our commitment to Him must be total (Col.3:23-24). The closer we walk with God, the clearer we see His guidance.
Discipleship involves hardship, suffering and persecution (Matt.10: 24-25; 24:9; Jn.15:20). Disciples must be ready to accept physical inconvenience (Lk.9:57-58) and to be wholehearted in their devotion to Christ (Lk.9:61-62). The odds are tremendous against anyone dedicated to do anything right and rational. Quite often, people do not love what they do, but do it nonetheless for the money it brings. Often the jobs turn out to be thankless and friendless. Christians cannot serve Christ without taking up the cross; this means being crucified to self and bearing His reproach. To save our lives means to lose them, but to lose our lives for His sake means to save them.
Israel failed to be God's light to the nations, partly because the people were so self-satisfied in their status as God's chosen people that they had no concern for others. They deceived themselves considering themselves assured of God's blessing, and the Gentiles assured of His judgment. Are we not in the same plight? As we carry on the mission that Jesus started, we show people the type of world that God wants. We work towards the goal that God has for the removal of all the effects of sin, not only in individuals and human society, but also in nature (Rom.8:19-23). God wants to save people, see them baptised, made disciples of Jesus, instructed in Christian teaching and built into local churches. God has entrusted us with the task of reconciling the world to Himself. If the people of the world are to be reconciled to Him, we must tell them about it.
Our commission is not simply to win souls. It is to make disciples, which includes winning them, bringing them into a Christian fellowship, and building them up in faith. Jesus wants true commitment from His disciples. If we fail to teach people the whole counsel of God, we are not obeying the Great Commission. As people respond to the Gospel, they come into a right relationship with God, and then produce character and behaviour in keeping with Biblical faith (Matt.28:19-20; Lk.24:47; Acts 1:8).
Paul's ministry involved a special method (Rom.15:20), going where Christ had not been preached. He was a pioneer. He avoided unprofitable and empty discussions. He exhorted Titus to avoid "foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because they are unprofitable and useless" (Tit.3:9). Paul looked upon his personal sufferings as suffering for Christ's sake. As Christ suffered for others, he suffered for others, and his suffering was on behalf of the body, the Church. He had steadfastness of purpose, depth of conviction, radiant joy even under pressure and worked under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By the end of his career, Christianity had spread throughout the Roman empire. The frequency of his travel facilitated the spread of the good news.
The Early Church did not have the financial and technical resources that we have today. Yet, they got the job done, through the power of the Holy Spirit. You need not possess a lot to be able to give and share. Before they became Spirit-empowered witnesses, the believers were joyful worshippers (Acts 2:46,47), a good example for us to follow.
Work must come from the heart: "Do it heartily as unto the Lord" (Col.3:23). Half-hearted work is a poor testimony. The half-hearted, unfaithful workers will be judged when Christ returns. It therefore behoves all of us to do our best for Jesus' sake. When you decide not to give up till it happens, it happens. God truly helps those who help themselves.
Where do we put our time, energy and money? That is the true test of what we value. If we are not willing to pay a price for our values, if we are not willing to make some sacrifices in order to realise them, we should ask ourselves whether we truly believe in them at all. Values must be tested against facts and experience; they demand deeds, not just words.
The Word is given to us "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped unto all good works" (2Tim.3:17). If we are doing what the Scriptures enjoin, we must be prompted by the Holy Spirit. If our conduct squares with the rule of righteousness, then we must be led of the Lord. "The Lord shall direct your paths." Our business is to walk in obedience to Him day by day. However, very few order the details of their lives by the rules and regulations of the Word. Many eulogise the lamp, but do not walk by its light. It would do a traveller very little good to diligently scrutinise the mechanism of a lamp, or admire its beautiful design, unless he takes it up and make practical use of it.
The 'wise' are not the highly intellectual, or the brilliantly educated, but those who earnestly seek to put God first in their lives. When the heart is right with God, the soul is endowed with spiritual wisdom so that there is full light for our path. The highest act of human reason is to disown its sufficiency and bow before the wisdom of God. The one who leaves God out of his thoughts and plans, who does not care whether his conduct pleases Him, is a 'fool.'
If we are really concerned with seeking to please God in all the details of our lives, He will not leave us in ignorance of His will concerning us. But, if we are accustomed to gratify self and only turn to God for help in emergencies, we should not be surprised if He allows us to reap the fruits of our folly.
God's will is revealed in His Word. If the plans we formulate, the decisions we make, the actions we execute are in harmony with God's Word, then we are acting in God's will. People determined to achieve their objective will surely receive God's help at critical junctures. So, "What does God require? Everything!"