In His Steps, a Christian novel by Charles M. Shelton, was published in 1896 and the book has sold more than 30,000,000 copies. The full title of Shelton’s book is In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?
The main character, Reverend Henry Maxwell, is the pastor of First Church of Raymond. The story begins when Jack Manning visits Henry Maxwell on a Friday morning. Rev. Maxwell is diligently working on his sermon for the coming Sunday. Manning is out of work and seeking help. Rev. Maxwell listens to Manning’s desperate plea for help and then encourages him on his way as he is anxious to get back to writing his sermon. To Rev. Maxwell’s surprise, Manning attends church on Sunday. At the end of the service, Manning makes his way to the front of the church where he quietly, but directly, confronts the congregation. Manning shares with the congregation how he lost his job and that his wife had recently died.
He questions their compassion and love for others in the town of Raymond, especially for people like him. “I’m not complaining; just stating facts,” Manning says to them. He asked the congregation what it means to follow in the steps of Christ. At the conclusion of his speech, Manning collapses in the aisle. Rev. Maxwell takes Manning to his home where Manning dies a week later. Rev. Maxwell is so impacted by the experience that it changes his life. After retreating in prayer and reflection, He presents a challenge to himself and the members in his congregation. He asks them to join him in making a pledge for one year. He challenges them: “Do not do anything without first asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’”
The rest of the book shares the stories of those who chose to live out the challenge presented by Rev. Maxwell. Their lives were forever changed. The community of Raymond was forever changed. A movement began.
You will remember, this same message was shared by young people all across our country: “What would Jesus do?” There were bracelets, bumper stickers, images of WWJD to remind us to ask the question. But, what if today we went farther and asked ourselves: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a child who is hungry and thirsty, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a single mom who has no place to live, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a child who has been beaten and discarded, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a child whose mother has died and he has no other family to turn to for help, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a child who has been the victim of sex trafficking, we asked: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a child who has been failing in school because of his dire circumstances, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a developmentally disabled adult who needs a place to live where she can be a part of a family and be all God intended, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with a senior adult trapped in their home needing a wheel chair ramp, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
When faced with an aging adult who is lonely, needing a hug and a listening ear of someone who cares, we ask: “What would Jesus have me do?”
Scripture gives clear direction. The answer is in Matthew 25:35-40:
35 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, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Will you take the challenge? Will you share Jesus to a dark and hurting world?
Chief Arwen and Chief Charis, counselors and caregivers for girls at Camp Duncan in Aberdeen, took the challenge when God called them to this ministry. Just a week before I wrote this column, these extraordinary women helped lead two of our Camp Duncan girls, Jada and Chanel, to the Lord as each asked Jesus into their hearts. This is happening at all of BCH’s locations and at our affiliated orphanage in Guatemala.
This is what happens when you answer the question, “What would Jesus have me do?” Become involved in this life-changing ministry and see how God touches lives.
Learn how you can make a difference. Call me at 336-689-4442 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.