By Judy Brandon: CNJ religion columnist
I read an article about people who live their lives to help others.
This article focused on people from all walks of life and all age groups. These people were of all ages and different ethnicity. They all had different jobs and occupations and lived all over the United States.
Yet, the one characteristic they had in common was that they lived to impact the world for good.
The article I read had to do with people who minister to others in the 21st century who are poor and needy and live in the streets. Specifically, one woman lives in a major metropolitan area in the U.S. and she organized a street ministry to feed, provide clothes for and get medial care for street people.
But the idea of street people or those who are very really poor and in need has been around for a long time.
One woman was recorded doing the same great work centuries ago. She was not chronicled in a national newspaper but her story is revealed in the Bible as probably the first recorded in biblical history to reach out to those who were in need.
This woman reached out to widows. In Biblical days, women who were widows were on their own unless they had a son to support them financially. So this woman, Dorcas of Joppa (Acts 9), saw the need of widows and ministered to them. Her Hebrew name was Tabitha and in Greek she was called “Dorcas.”
She was a believer in Christ and was associated with a group of believes who lived in Joppa.
Like Jesus, she loved the poor and needy and especially did she reach out to widows. She used her talents and resources to make them coats and other garments. She saw people in need and then tried to meet those needs. When people in the city of Joppa heard the name Dorcas, they knew her name meant kindness and compassion.
But one day Dorcas became seriously ill and suddenly died. Her friends attended her during her sickness and then during her death.
After her death they laid her in an upstairs room in her home. Peter had been preaching all over the country and was in a nearby town at that time. Because they had heard about all the wonderful miracles that Peter was performing, they sent two men immediately to find Peter.
These men led Peter to Dorcas’ house in Joppa. He went in, climbed the stairs and found Dorcas dead in a room crowed with widows in mourning for her.
Peter sent them all out of the room. When he was alone, he knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said “Tabitha arise!” She opened her eyes saw Pete and sat up. Peter took her by the hand and helped her stand up. He called her friends back into the room to show them all that Dorcas was alive and well.
The news spread all over Joppa that Peter had performed a miracle and brought this woman back to life. The people were all amazed and believed it, especially when they saw Dorcas on the street again, handing out clothes, doing for others and helping the widows. Once again she began to minister to the needy of Joppa.
In public service or private activity, people can make a difference. It might be helping many people at once or helping just one person at a time. The important thing is that lives are being touched. Are you making a difference in someone’s life today?