April 4, 2016
For Immediate Release
|Dr. Albert Reyes shares stories and experiences of restoring life to the poor from all across the globe. (Campbellsville University Photo by Rachel DeCoursey)
By Jesse Harp, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.— Stories and experiences of restoring life to the poor from all across the globe were shared recently by Dr. Albert Reyes, president and CEO of Buckner International, at Campbellsville University’s chapel service.
Reyes message was based on the concept of partners in ministry, referencing Paul, who talks about the partnership that’s vital to ministry. Reyes related this to Christ, who calls us to follow Him by reaching out to the poor and helpless. By doing this, we become what Reyes calls, “agents of redemption.”
Luke 4, one of the passages that Reyes speaks of, describes what he calls “Jesus’s inaugural speech.” Jesus goes to Nazareth, the place where he was from and well known. Nazareth was an unlikely place for this message, due to the common belief that nothing good could come from there.
In addition to the unlikely setting, Jesus was delivering this message to a group of people who were unaware that he was the Son of God. Reyes draws a connection from this message to our lives, as there are some instances when the presence of God is pervasively real, but we may be completely unaware.
“You may have felt at some point that maybe God has forgotten you,” Reyes said. “I just want you to know that he hasn’t lost your address. He knows where you are. And maybe he’s showing up; you just don’t recognize him.”
Jesus showed up in an unlikely place with an unanticipated agenda, aware that the spirit of God was anointing him for a specific task. The agenda played out within his 36-month ministry.
“I came to preach good news to the poor,” Reyes said, quoting Jesus from Isaiah 61:1.
Reyes talked about the spiritual sensitivity of the poor, saying that Jesus had this in mind when He preached of ministering to the poor. Along with being more vulnerable to the Holy Spirit, Reyes said that the poor are open, humble and ready to hear the gospel.
“Salvation can reach the whole person, not just the spiritual part,” he said.
Reyes described his own grandmother, who he never had the opportunity to meet, as being poverty-stricken. His grandparents raised nine children in Texas, making a living by picking cotton with nothing more than beans and tortillas to live on. Their lives were changed when a missionary invited all of the cotton pickers to worship, where Reyes grandmother first heard that Jesus could forgive sins. She came to know the Lord and, over time, the rest of the family did as well.
“I’ve never been poor,” Reyes said. “But I can sense and I can see what poverty is like.”
Reyes describes the severe poverty that he witnessed in the slums of Africa in places like Ethiopia and Kenya. Many people rely on the trash dumps to find food, reselling the bags that they used to collect the food. On a good day, these people make a dollar by doing this.
According to Reyes, being poor changes the human spirit. However, Jesus has good new for the poor, bringing freedom to the captives, sight to the blind, liberty for victims of injustice and proclaims the gospel.
Instead to taking part in social activism, Reyes said that Jesus was more concerned with changing the heart. Social reformation is a result of the regeneration of the heart, as opposed to social change creating spiritual change.
In addition to the unanticipated setting and agenda, Jesus brought an unanticipated message. The people of the synagogue fastened their attention on Jesus, and the first word that Jesus says, which Reyes emphasizes, is “today.” Jesus used this word to highlight the fact that the reality of salvation was existent in the present moment that he was speaking. Prophecy was turning into fulfillment before their eyes.
The surprise of the people listening in the synagogue was a feeling Reyes said that he related to when he was he once helped a poor woman and her family when she asked him to pray for him. She asked him to pray for three things: that she could learn how to read so she could read the scripture for herself, her bad housing situation, and for her husband who was controlled by alcoholism and was assaulting their daughters.
Reyes and his team ended up building a home for Maria and her family, sending her husband to rehab and helping him to receive salvation.
Reyes reminded students, faculty and staff that their ultimate purpose is to glorify God, and invited them to join him in reaching out to the poor and neglected children of the world.
“Part of the reason that I agreed to come is to invite you to come with us to serve children who have nothing - to get on your knees and put shoes on someone,” Reyes said. “We go to several countries outside of the U.S. and we’d love for you to join us.”
Buckner International is a ministry devoted to transforming the lives of orphans, vulnerable children, families and elders in the United States and around the world. The 136-year-old ministry reaches about 400,000 people each year.
Dr. Twyla Hernandez, associate professor of Christian missions, introduced Reyes.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering over 80 programs of study including 24 master’s degrees, seven postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
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