what does your jerusalem look like?
by Norma Jackson Goldman
Find out more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Home Missions at www.homemissions.net.
I recently challenged my adult Bible study class to take a fresh look at a familiar passage of Scripture—Jesus’ marching orders for believers everywhere. “But ye shall receive power [ability, efficiency, and might] after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part [the very bounds] of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Retirement years provide unique opportunities for redefining priorities, including the one spelled out in the Acts passage. So, what does your “Jerusalem” look like? While on a recent missions trip to South Africa, I confided to one of my teammates that many believers would prefer to go around the world to witness rather than go across the street to an unsaved neighbor!
My Jerusalem is a cul-de-sac with two gay couples, one lesbian couple, a family that claims Christ but does not participate in a local body of believers, and a Muslim family. My Jerusalem includes a local body of believers where I worship, give, serve, and invest my life in the Great Commission. Jerusalem for me is the city of Nashville and surrounding areas where thousands of people need Christ.
What does your Jerusalem look like, and how are you living out His command to be His witness there?
While life in 2008 provides communication tools that would have completely astonished first-century believers, the methods they used remain effective. They told what God in Christ had done for them. They shared their stories as they met needs. They demonstrated the love of Christ as they took care of those in need and encouraged one another as they experienced rejection and contempt.
As they went, they ministered to the sick, interceded in prayer, took in the homeless, and provided for the poor. As they went, they exhibited the marks of a changed life, the evidence of forgiveness and of servant leadership.
Your Jerusalem might require helping in Vacation Bible School or holding a backyard Bible club for neighborhood children. We might see you taking cookies to a new mother with a word of encouragement. Perhaps you will take a “prayer-walk” through your neighborhood, asking God for opportunities to share the gospel with specific individuals. You might be seen tutoring children in reading or math, or changing exterior light bulbs for an elderly neighbor.
The believers who made up the early church were neither Bible scholars nor theologians. They simply shared what Christ had done for them. No one “dozes off” when another person is sharing how Christ changed his or her life. Every human loves to hear the personal experiences of another (that’s why word-of-mouth marketing is such a powerful tool in today’s business environment). And so it will be with you, in your Jerusalem.
The best news is that everyone can be a witness in his or her own Jerusalem—no one is excluded! Perhaps you are a retiree suffering from health problems and unable to get out much. You can still pray, send notes of encouragement, and minister to those who come to your door. Surprise your plumber or electrician by asking how you can pray for them, and then give a word of testimony about how He is meeting your needs. Give a new believer the gift of daily prayer during the first six weeks of his new life in Christ.
State specifically what you will pray for (time and a desire to read a few verses from the Bible every day, opportunities to share his new faith, and faithfulness in worship, praise, and service). So let me ask again: what does your Jerusalem look like? n
About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma Goldman enjoys a freelance writing career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN. If you have a retirement-related question for Norma, email email@example.com.