There is a story about a little girl that had been tucked into bed by her mom and dad. Lovingly, Mom and Dad had prayed for her and kissed her goodnight. Soon she fell into a peaceful sleep. Hours later there was a thunderstorm that had rolled in and a bolt of lightning struck a mile from the little girl’s home. Of course, a huge clap of thunder followed. The little girl leaped out of her bed and sprinted to her parents’ room with tears rolling down her cheeks. She jumped into bed between her mother and father and as they consoled her, her father said, “Honey, God will always protect you.” Her response was, “Daddy I know God will protect me but right now I need someone with skin on them.”

God loves this world. There is not a person living today that God does not love. God the Father has a desire for each and every person to enter into relationship with Him by accepting the enormous sacrifice that was given on the cross of Calvary. Though God’s love is a reality, people in our neighborhoods, at our workplaces and in our schools and stores need someone with “skin on them” to represent God and His intense love for them.

In China, suicide is the leading cause of death for people 18 to 34 years old. In Nanjing, China, the way many people were taking their lives was to jump off the Nanjing River Bridge. The bridge was so high that stepping off the bridge ended a person’s life instantly.

A young man, Chen Si, had walked with Jesus for years and read his Bible. He realized that he was a “sent” person, someone who was to represent Jesus in the world around him. He was to be Jesus with skin on him. He began to go to the Nanjing River Bridge in the evening hours looking for people who were intent on ending their lives.

Obviously he did this at great expense to himself. He gave time, energy and resources to following after the ministry he believed God had given to him. Over the course of the next year he saved 42 people and helped them find hope for their lives; he would spend time with these people and help them change their life circumstances. He would pray for them and welcome Jesus to heal their hurt and pain.

Soon people who were desperate to gain hope heard about Chen Si. They began to call him on the phone, desperate for hope. As they found hope for living through Chen Si’s message about Jesus Christ they began to offer their time to help people struggling through pain. Today Chen Si, who once was a foundry worker, is serving his city full time with a staff and leadership team whose sole purpose is to help people find hope in Jesus Christ.

The church needs to view itself as Jesus does. Jesus sees the church as the agents of God’s mission. We are sent out to bring hope and healing to a lost and dying world. We don’t simply write checks to “missions.” We are missionaries. Mission by its nature is incarnational, that is, Jesus with skin on them. A mission may take various forms depending on the situation, but missions always require SENT ONES.

People need to know that God loves them and the way that happens is people with skin on them go to them demonstrating the love of God to the least, the last and the lost.

Could I encourage many of you to pray about getting involved this year in Celebrate Recovery, a ministry with the mission of helping people who are suffering from habits, hurts and hang-ups? You might consider connecting with DivorceCare or Living Waters. If you are really adventuresome, join our Street Ministry team that goes out every Thursday evening to spread the message of Christ’s love into the Cedar Valley.

Or, as God leads you, you might just want to bake a cake for a neighbor who has gone through a difficult event in their lives and are stinging with pain. Small acts of kindness are powerful in showing wounded people that God truly loves them.