B. M. Ruguri, Executive Secretary, East-Central Africa Division

Summary: Every time we invest in human lives, every time we invest in the kingdom of heaven, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. That’s what Jesus tells us.

An investment in human life. In 1937 Charles Dickens described the plight of orphans in Victorian England in his novel, Oliver Twist. Not long after that a German immigrant in Bristol, England, named George Muller decided to do something about it. He resolved to create an orphan house where children could have their physical needs met and also receive loving, spiritual nurture.

Mr. Muller had no connections and money for such a grand enterprise. But he had an extraordinary faith in God. Therefore, he asked his Lord to provide 1,000 pounds to start this ministry to the poor. He took the words of James seriously: ?Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world? (Jm 1:27).

As word got around, a few shillings began to come in, along with some plates, basins, and blankets. But no large donations arrived. Muller was tempted to doubt that the project would ever get off the ground.

Then he received the first breakthrough gift—a note for one hundred pounds. However, when he found out who sent it, Muller was reluctant to accept the money. The donor was a woman who earned only about three and half shillings a week doing needlework. Mr. Muller, a man of uncompromising integrity, wondered if this poor woman had made a spontaneous donation without really considering the cost. So he paid her a visit to see whether he could change her mind.

The woman told him that she’d been left some money after the death of her father. The hundred pounds she sent to Muller had come from that small legacy her father had left. Seeing how modestly the woman lived, Muller asked her if she still wanted to reconsider.

This was her reply: ?The Lord Jesus has given His last drop of blood for me. Should I not give all the money I have? I will give all the money I possess, rather than the orphan house not be established.? This unnamed believer made an investment in the kingdom of Christ, an investment in human life.

Muller not only established his orphanage, but went on to build several others. Funds kept coming in—without him ever begging for money. During his 63-year career, Muller cared for some ten thousand children. Many lives were touched. His faith in God’s provision paid off handsomely. No child ever went without a meal, and no orphanage bill ever went unpaid.

That woman’s initial investment of one hundred pounds expanded incredibly. It was a good venture. Investing in God’s kingdom always is the best. It’s the sure bet that turns losers into winners

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Everybody wins. Do you know what the main problem with gambling is? Almost everybody must lose. There has to be an overwhelming number of losers in order for there to be a few winners, maybe even one winner. A Washington Post reporter recently figured out that you’re seven times more likely to get hit by lighting than become a millionaire through the lottery. Gambling can only thrive if there are enough losers.

Investing in the kingdom of God, however, is a different matter. Everyone who turns in a bid to advance the kingdom of God wins. There are no losers. Listen to this promise Jesus shared in Luke 6:38: ?Give and it will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.?

Every time we invest in human lives, every time we invest in the kingdom of heaven, we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. That’s what Jesus tells us. Now it’s important to make sure that we are investing in God’s kingdom. We have a responsibility to invest as wisely as we can.

There are many faithful stewards who are clearly helping the needy and plainly expanding God’s work in this world. Jesus’ promise is that when we give, we receive in the same measure. Everyone who invests in God’s work comes out a winner. And that’s true however much or however little we have to give.

Even when we give two mites like the poor widow, as long as it is given from a full heart, we shall not lose our reward. Jesus said that if we give a glass of water to someone in His name, we shall never lose our reward. And when we invest in heaven, our investment will grow abundantly. It is for this reason Paul could declare when he came to the end of his impressive apostolic career: ?Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.? (2Tm 1:12)

Beloved, when we invest in heaven our God will guard that which we have entrusted to Him, and we will enjoy the gains and the interest when our God establishes His everlasting kingdom that will never end. No one who invests in heaven and lays the treasure therein will face bankruptcy.

An extraordinary story. Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place, tells a wonderful story about her mother’s final years of life. The elderly Mrs. ten Boom suffered a massive stroke that left her paralyzed and virtually speechless. The only words she could speak were ?Yes? and ?No,? and the name ?Corrie.?

Each morning Mrs. ten Boom would sit by the window of their home which overlooked a busy street. People she had known for years would pass by that window; people she had tended when sick or encouraged when in trouble. As Corrie wrote, ?Mama’s love had always been the kind that acted itself out with a soup pot and sewing basket.?

After a few hours Corrie would hear her name spoken. She would look into her mother’s face, realizing that she had seen someone she could not name. So Corrie played a game of twenty questions with her mother. Was it someone from church? Mrs. ten Boom would answer ?Yes? or ?No.? Was it a neighbor? Finally, Corrie would narrow it down, and then began calling out names until she heard her mother’s delighted ?Yes!? And then she would realize—?Oh, it is her birthday? or ?Oh, his wife is sick!?

Corrie would then write that person a note, telling them that Mrs. ten Boom was thinking about them, and wishing them well. At the close of the letter, Corrie would place the pen in her mother’s stiffened fingers to help her sign her name. That angular scrawl was soon recognized and loved all over the town of Haarlem.

Mrs. ten Boom sat at that window day after day, unable to move, her worn hands folded helplessly on her lap. But still, she poured out her love to the people walking by on the street below. She was still giving. She shared her life. That is how she had lived, and that is how she wanted to die.

We have an important decision to make about what we are going to invest in and where we are going to invest. Are we going to invest in human lives, in the kingdom of God, or are we going to take a long shot at that pot of gold? The pot of gold may make us rich, but we will only be living for ourselves. It is Jesus who warned that when we try to save our lives through self-preservation, we only lose them. The only way to truly save our life is by investing it in His kingdom—guided and motivated by the values of Jesus that are enthroned at the very center of our heart.

It is then we will become winners—by sharing ourselves and our re-sources—?pressed down, shaken together, and running over? into kingdom business. This is the good life.

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January–March, 2004

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