Isaiah 61:1-3a (NIV)
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
Before beginning his public ministry Jesus read a portion of this Isaiah passage from the scroll in the temple. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” (NIV) This scripture was fulfilled in Jesus that day.
Just as Jesus was anointed to bring good news to the poor, the Spirit anoints us in ChildHope to do the same. To share the good news of Jesus and his salvation. The good news that includes freedom and comfort and joy.
I recently received an update from our ChildHope school in Caracas, Venezuela. Included in the update was a picture of some of the boys holding bottles of oil as though they were trophies. This peaked my interest so I asked for more information from the pastor. He shared with me that this school traditionally had a sport festival this time of year. They decided that in spite of the pandemic and the overall crisis in the country, they would still go forward with the festival.
The children had a wonderful time in the school’s open air gymnasium playing and having fun. Since the school was using the festival as an opportunity for outreach to the community and giving out food baskets, they had oil and corn flour on hand and decided to make those the prizes. The boys who won first place in the soccer tournament chose the oil as their trophies.
When I saw those boys with oil, I thought of the Isaiah passage and the “oil of joy” that the Spirit gives. Updates from Venezuela always touch my heart. Although the country is in a great crisis and filled with despair and mourning, I always get positive reports from Venezuela — filled with joy and hope.
That little church and that big school located in a poor barrio on a hillside in Caracas is a beacon of the good news for the poor. The Spirit has both anointed and empowered that faith community to declare to those living in despair that the Kingdom of God is present — good news for the poor, freedom for the captives, comfort for those who mourn … and the oil of joy.
Mary Kathleen Mahon, Ph.D.
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