Article of the week: Faith in a food parcel
10 October 2020
Major Catherine Wyles considers how our practical service can open people’s eyes to Jesus
ONE of the most beautiful accounts of someone reaching faith is found in John chapter 9. It teaches us so much about the journey to believing in Jesus and having a real relationship with him.
The main character, a man born blind, began almost as a bit player. He didn’t ask for healing – Jesus and his disciples were just walking by and he became the topic of discussion. ‘Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?’ (v2 Good News Bible).
There was a common belief that disability was the result of sin. Jesus quickly rebuked this, but his answer was a strange one: ‘His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him’ (v3 GNB). This may be uncomfortable reading, but as we progress through this story God’s glory is undoubtedly shown, and in perhaps the most powerful way out of all the recorded miracles.
The physical healing came first: Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud, rubbed it on the man’s eyes, then told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam – and he ‘came back seeing’ (v7 GNB).
As a young child I was used to leading a blind lady around the town: ‘Step up, Nan. Step down,’ I would say. I always marvelled at her ability to sense direction, but it was not easy. Every journey was an act of faith – in her white stick and in her God. This man, as he felt his way to the pool with mud encasing his eyes, showed amazing hope. He did not know who Jesus was but he knew that he needed healing.
During this pandemic I believe that many people are stumbling to Christ, recognising their need for healing long before they learn who he is. People who are desperately lonely, who need food or just a friendly voice have their basic needs met, but I believe it doesn’t stop there.
When the man in John 9 went home, his neighbours saw the difference and asked him who healed him. He of course answered that it was Jesus. The healing was investigated by the Pharisees, who questioned his parents and him.
Here we see a progression of this man’s faith. The Pharisees called Jesus a sinner, but the man replied: ‘I do not know if he is a sinner or not… One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see’ (v25 GNB). After more questions and insults, the man continued: ‘We know that God does not listen to sinners; he does listen to people who respect him and do what he wants them to do. Since the beginning of the world nobody has ever heard of anyone giving sight to a person born blind. Unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do a thing’ (vv31–33 GNB).
What a progression! This man had recognised that God was at work in his life.
It was after four weeks of receiving food parcels that Evelyn asked whether I had anything religious she could read. She was an older lady who was isolating in a block of flats and needed support. I gave her a little book, and the next time I went I found that she had read it and passed it on to two other ladies in her block. The journey had started.
The young man’s declaration of faith in John 9 was rewarded by an encounter with Jesus. Jesus instigated the meeting and revealed himself as the Son of Man, causing the man to reply, ‘I believe, Lord!’ (v38 GNB), and kneel down before him.
My prayer is that Jesus reveals his true self to all those to whom we have ministered in his name, including Evelyn, and that we will look back on this time and see his power at work.
MAJOR WYLES IS CORPS OFFICER, RUTHERGLEN