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Leading up to Easter, our church spent a few weeks reading the gospel of Luke together. I was reminded again of Luke’s focus on Jesus reaching out to the poor, the broken, the marginalised. If Matthew shows the God of the Jews, Mark the God of the Romans, and John the God of the whole world, then Luke definitely shows the God of the outcast. Take Luke chapter 6 for example - Jesus heals a man with leprosy, forgives and heals a paralysed man, calls Matthew the tax collector and eats with sinners. Or look in Luke chapter 18 - Jesus tells parables about a persistent widow, another one about a pharisee and a tax collector, he rebukes the disciples for not letting children come to him, and then he gives a blind beggar his sight.

Perhaps the central verse of Luke’s gospel is chapter 19 verse 10 where Jesus says about himself: ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’ As church leaders, it does us good to examine again and again the way that Jesus reached out to the last, the least and the lost. It reminds us of our mission, and should drive us to constantly search for ways that our churches can engage the lost world around us with the good news of Jesus.

As I write this blog, I’ve literally just returned from a church mission trip to Macedonia - we have been working with two church plants there for many years and the pastor of the church in the city of Stip has always sought the Lord for creative ways to reach out to lost people. Two examples on this trip are worth mentioning. A Roma Gypsy community has taken over as derelict hospital and families have been living there, with no electricity or running water, for several years. Nearby there is an orthodox church who have chosen to ignore the Roma families, but the church we partner with has made sure to engage with the families. Whenever we have a mission team visiting, always at Christmas or Easter, we are able to fund food and clothing parcels for each Roma family and we gather them together and share a simple gospel message as we give them the parcels as a token of God’s love, and our love, for them. On one of my earliest visits to Macedonia I can well remember standing on the banks of a river at the baptism of a Roma husband and wife.

My favourite example however, is that the church in Stip organises people to give blood to the local hospital. The pastor had been praying for guidance to reach into the community, and heard that blood supplies were dangerously low in the hospital - so now three times a year, church members, some of their families, friends, neighbours and work colleagues, all go together and give blood. When our mission team turns up, we invite each donor to a 'thank-you’ meal at our hotel, they receive a certificate from the hospital, and hear a gospel message after the meal. How easy to give a gospel message to a group of people who have given their blood to save others!

It might need plenty of prayer, some searching conversations, and some creativity to find them, but the last, the least, the lost are not too far away from your church. It’s not likely that you will be reaching out to Roma gypsies, or organising blood donations, but the Lord does have a unique role for your church in reaching out to the poor, the broken, the marginalised. If you are doing that already, and have some great stories to tell, then Waleswide would love to hear them!

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