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“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but YOU {emphasis bjb} do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2: 14- 17

Hans Brinker

A Parable of Faith Activation

“The dam is breaking! The dam is breaking! Emergency!!!” The screams of the people of Borderville frantically scurrying to get out of harm’s way echoed from the hillsides surrounding the town. Chaos everywhere! People watched in horror from hilltops and housetops as a wall of water rushed down the ravine sweeping over everything in its path. Thousands of homes gone in a moment. Families swept away. Utter and complete devastation in the wake with more tragedy ahead in its path.

Warnings had been given prior, but no one listened. There was a lot of talk, several plans were put forth, money had even been allocated, but nothing was done. Now, it was too late.

Emergency broadcasts flooded the airways urgently notifying people to seek higher ground. There was a cry, too, for volunteers to help tend the wounded and homeless.

It wasn’t long before the government issued a “warning” to local residents, and they began to organize shelters and supplies for the many victims. The Governor sought Federal assistance asking it be declared an “EMERGENCY!” Thousands of homes had already been destroyed. Many lives had been lost, and still the enormity of this tragedy was only beginning.

The water surged downhill wiping out everything in its path. Homes, schools, churches … businesses. It was ruthless.

Within a half hour of the breach, three or four helicopters peppered the sky. Whether journalists reporting the story or government agencies looking at the devastation was unclear. News bulletins resounded across the nation.

The hours began to roll by. The path of tragedy grew. The cry for help continued. Checks began to pour in from the American public. Emergency “#800” phones were organized. Government agencies brought supplies to nearby make shift shelters. Piles of blankets and cases of water grew.

The following weekend, pleas issued from pulpits in churches, tabernacles, mosques, as well as community outreach programs. Tons of building and survival supplies were quickly being gathered at points from coast to coast.

Hollywood celebrities and politicians issued calls for help from their walled-in mansions and executive offices. Photos flashed across TV screens and computer screens of the gorgeous celebs at fundraisers supporting the victims relief effort.

Hours and days passed. The flood continued to demolish town after town, home after home. Politicians chose sides: some pleaded for more money and supplies to tend the victims, and others wanted, first, to repair the dam.

“Oh no, we must let the water go and take care of the people first! That is the compassionate thing. To repair the dam is taking food out of the childrens’ mouths!” they said.

A handful of volunteers gathered at the local Red Cross. The size or their task was immeasurable. Money was plentiful. Supplies from the government were available, but volunteers were scarce. Seems everyone had a reason not to lend a physical hand to help the distraught and displaced survivors.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

There is a children’s story I recall – The Little Dutch Boy, by Mary Mapes Dodge. Peter Miller writes this synopsis of the tale:

    “Dutch legend has it that there was once a small boy who upon passing a dyke (or dam) on his way to school noticed a slight leak as the sea trickled in through a small hole. Knowing that he would be in trouble if he were to be late for school, the boy poked his finger into the hole and so stemmed the flow of water. Some time later a passerby saw him and went to get help. This came in the form of other men who were able to effect repairs on the dyke and seal up the leak.

    “This story is told to children to teach them that if they act quickly and in time, even they with their limited strength and resources can avert disasters. The fact that the Little Dutch Boy used his finger to stop the flow of water, is used as an illustration of self-sacrifice. The physical lesson is also taught: a small trickle of water soon becomes a stream and the stream a torrent and the torrent a flood sweeping all before it, Dyke material, roadways and cars, and even railway tracks and bridges and whole trains.”

The Bible teaches God is a personal God. He is interested in our individual growth and character. In America, and in our world today, there are several “dams breaking.” We have agency upon agency duplicating tasks and spending obscene amounts of money, and accomplishing little. President Johnson back in the 60’s declared a “War on Poverty,” establishing “Social Security (creating medicare & medicaid) and “Food Stamp Act.”

As noble as the “War on Poverty” idea is, we have MORE poverty today, not less. We’ve lost the “War on Poverty!” Look around! If these programs actually worked, wouldn’t the percentages decrease and the numbers of thriving Americans increase? Service programs abound, but people willing to volunteer their time and talents are few. Government not equipped to tend the needs of individual families or communities. Government cannot empathize or feel compassion. We can!


See, only we, as individuals and neighbors know the specific needs of one another and have the ability to feel compassion. The thing about helping others … not only does serving one another help them, the victims, but it activates us! There is something reciprocal that happens when we reach out to “care” for another human being. I’ve heard it from missionaries to go with the warm intention of helping others, but they return feeling more a recipient than a giver.

It’s about people, a “People Connection” that opens our hearts and drowns the fears we have of people, of strangers. We are free to serve, yes, but only in doing does the reverse become true – our service frees us! Only in service to our neighbors does our faith become activated. Regardless of whether our religion is Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism … it is our personal service to others that confirms, affirms, and activates our Faith.