The word itself is a picture, an out-stretched set of arms with a hand ready to help a person in need. In the summer of 2005 we took a group of students and adults to Kingston, Jamaica, where we had previously lived/served in 2000-2001. It was wonderful to be back, renew friendships, help a local pastor, and eat jerk chicken. On a day off we traveled to the north coast to climb Dunn’s River Falls, a gorgeous place that should be one of the wonders of the world.
We lapped the lines of cruise-ship tourists holding hands on our dash to the top, fighting rushing water and moss as slick as ice. I kept an eye on my two oldest boys, one in front, the other next to me. At a particularly tricky spot, my son next to me lost footing and starting sliding down toward wet rocks below. Instinct shot my arm out to grab his wrist. I had one chance. Either my attempt would work, and my watery grip would hold, or he was going down hard. Thank God it held, and we had one of those heart-pounding moments of fear realizing something bad almost happened.
We see this image in the story of Jesus. We, his sons and daughters, going down, and in desperate need of a hand. His hand was actually his entire life. It was an amazing gift of love, that he gave himself for us.
So what should outreach look like now? How should we give ourselves for the people all around that God desperately loves and wants to experience his abundant life?