Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: The Least of These – Scott Linebrink

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.”Matthew 25:34-40

One day, believers will all stand in judgment before our Lord and give an account of how we used that which was entrusted to us in this life. When we stand before the throne on that day, this discourse might just be the same one our Father has with us. At that point, it’s not only a question of, “How I will be able to answer for myself?” but rather, “Who will stand up behind me and testify?” Will it be those people who were direct beneficiaries of my faithful stewardship?

When we serve others, we are doing so because of the grace, mercy, and service that Jesus Christ has poured out on us. We’ve each been given a unique life to live—one full of talent, resources, and gifts that God is calling us to steward. I often ask myself, what am I doing to be a good steward of the blessings God has given me?

This is not an issue of salvation, but one of sanctification. It’s not as if our works will give us an “in” to the Kingdom of God, but our understanding of grace is evident in the ways we use our time, treasures, and talents to steward what He has given us. Scripture tells us that those who are faithful stewards will receive heavenly rewards accordingly. See the parable Jesus tells in Luke 19:11-26.

The Bible also talks repeatedly about caring for the orphans and widows in our world—two people groups that particularly tug at my heartstrings. At Water Mission, we see a lot of women and children who are alone, suffering, and in need. They truly are the “least of these” whom Jesus talks about. These individuals may have no hope or opportunity to lift themselves up, but they give us the chance to live out our faith by sharing God’s blessings.

Recently, we have been responding to a need in Tanzania where a refugee camp, situated on only three square miles of land, has recently gone from a population of 30,000 to 180,000 and counting. Nyragusu Refugee Camp has been supporting refugees from the Republic of Congo for over 20 years now, but recently has exploded in numbers due to an influx of people fleeing from the African country of Burundi, where political unrest has led to civil wars and violence that has recurred throughout their history.

Nyragusu had been supplied with bottled water by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), but soon realized they needed help once the population of the camp grew. Because of Water Mission’s existing partnership with UNICEF, we immediately developed a plan to address the crisis. Before funding was in place, we sent ten safe water treatment systems to be installed within the camp. Less than three weeks after the equipment arrived, we had assembled the treatment system, providing enough clean water for 25,000 people in the child-friendly areas of the camp. But we knew that wouldn’t be enough.

Soon many of our partners heard of this project and began to support the mission. One of our donors, with whom we had a deep relationship, decided to outfit the entire camp with enough infrastructure to serve 250,000 people. Seeing the need and catching the vision for a permanent solution, this donor simply said, “We will provide the resources so that Water Mission can design and implement the long-term solution for this entire area.”

Through this project we are supplying basic and necessary resources for the refugees, but there is another need we are meeting – that of the donor. You see, people need a place where they can give to the “least of these.” They wish to be good stewards by being assured their gift is being used to help others in the name of Christ, and we honor their expectations by using their gifts exactly as they intended. Personally, I know this is one way I can accomplish what God has sent me out to do. This mission, and others like it, gives people an outlet for their stewardship to go forward into the world, make a difference, and leave a legacy of compassion and generosity for their children and others to observe and follow.

People may have a wrong or distorted view of non-profits. Many think they are always trying to ask for money because they need funds for their agendas, but the opposite is true! These organizations are providing opportunities for donors to be responsible and responsive with the gifts they’ve been given. My joy comes from connecting people who have a lack of means with those who seek meaning.

Jesus makes it personal. He doesn’t encourage us to give to others only when we feel like it, because it will make us feel good about ourselves, or out of compulsion, He commands us to serve others as He has served us. He calls us to respond to the needs of others as if we are serving Jesus Himself. I want to encourage you to discover the joy that God has waiting for those who are faithful stewards of His blessings.

When you look in the eyes of these children, can you see Jesus?

—Scott Linebrink

Scott Linebrink was a pitcher in the Majors from 2000-2011. He is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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