He donned a tea shirt and jeans and sat in an upstairs office building with the window open in 40 degree weather. Not necessarily my picture of a flaming evangelist.
I met Dave Russell in the late 1990’s. He was a burly man with long hair, a gruff beard, and a bulky build to match. Winter comes early to Burlington, Vermont, and this year was no different. Flakes of snow were already beginning to fall, and the temperatures were dropping rapidly. This meant nothing to Russell. He was accustomed to hard living. He had once lived on the streets. Simply having a roof was a luxury.
At some point in Dave’s journey through homelessness, someone told him about Jesus. He eagerly grasped the good news, and his life changed. Now he wanted to revolutionize the lives of the homeless who littered Burlington’s streets. And he has. Since initiating Burlington Street Ministries in 1995, he and others who have helped him have ministered to the physical needs of the homeless. More importantly, they have watched hundreds trust Jesus as their personal Savior.
Russell believes what James wrote. So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:17 NLT)
Faith—pure and unadulterated, is what saved me, but the only way I can exhibit my faith is through actions. Faith is the proof in the pudding that I believe what I claim to believe. It’s what demonstrates to others that Jesus is not merely an icon inserted into my head but a real person who changes my actions, attitudes, and outlook on life. He is the reason Dave Russell cares about the homeless, and he is the reason I gaze at others with compassion and act in their behalf when God gives me opportunity.
What difference is your faith making in your life?
Prayer: Savior Divine, may our words and actions reflect the reality of our faith.
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