A challenge for many Christians is working out how to put their faith into practice in a world that is often at odds with the practice of Christian discipleship.
Key Text: Luke 19:1-10
What do you consider to be the purpose of being a disciple? Why do we think it is important to live out the Christian life?
He entered Jericho and was passing through it.
A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
USPG is working with the Church of Malawi to tackle poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS, as well as managing the environment to tackle the impact of climate change.
Malawi faces many challenges. It is ranked 173 out of 188 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2015). With a high density population of 16.8 million, farmland is being depleted of nutrients and forest land is being decimated for fuel.
People have limited access to economic opportunities, education and transport. A recent survey conducted by USPG and the Church of Malawi in four rural parishes found that 22 per cent of respondents had never attended school (80 per cent women); income stood at 50p per day or less; and 82 per cent of families had no toilets or washing facilities.
In response, a church programme is promoting literacy for girls, supporting income generation schemes, managing the environment, addressing sanitation practices, and improving access to HIV care.
Girls in St Joseph’s Parish, Chintheche, are benefiting from the programme. Judith, aged 14, told us about an ingenious initiative: ‘The school has installed new toilets for girls [funded by the church], which are very important. Previously, girls had to go to a borehole and use toilets that were also used by the whole community. The water was often dirty and there were no doors. But now the school has these new toilets, we have privacy, so this encourages more girls to come to school.’
Judith added: ‘Girls also receive counselling on why we should keep coming to school because lots of girls drop out. Also, boys want us to be their girlfriends, but we are told to be careful so we can avoid HIV, other illnesses and pregnancy.’
Fr Hannex Kamenya, of St Joseph’s Church in Chintheche, said: ‘The Anglican Church is very important. We visit people wherever they live, even over the mountains. We know all the people in our parishes, which means we can have an impact.’
Holy God, in whose presence Zacchaeus was transformed,
enable us to respond ever more fully to your love,
that you might become a priority in our lives,
and we might share your transforming love with others.
In the light of this study, what learning might you adopt to help you grow in your discipleship?