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How Love Transformed a Neighbourhood
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22, 23
The Power in the Fruit of the Spirit
One of the things I love about the fruits of the spirit, is that they transcend cultural, economic and racial lines. Love has the same impact in Vancouver, as in Hong Kong, or Australia. Joy will yield the same effect whether you are living in a penthouse, a studio suite or a basement suite. Peace will hold the same power for you whether your Caucasian, African, or Asian. It makes no difference! Whoever you are, wherever you may be, when you allow the Fruit of the Spirit to flow from you, it will the same result, causing people to ask “what makes you so different?” And you will be able to point them to Jesus.
And you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to force the Fruit of Spirit to grow in your life. Does an apple tree need to force apples out of its branches? Not at all. What matters is that it is planted in the right environment, and has access to the sun, and it will produce apples. In much the same way, when you are planted in the right environment, the Fruit of the Spirit will increasingly grow in your life. Prayer, regular Bible reading and communing with other believers are practical, yet powerful ways to ensure you are positioned to produce the Fruit of the Spirit.
The Fruit of the Spirit Change a Neighbourhood
Never underestimate the power of the Fruit of the Spirit. I have literally seen them transform a neighbourhood that wanted nothing to do with Jesus. I grew up in a country in Africa that was divided by racism. When my parents, young ministers, moved into a poor neighbourhood with a mission to share the lifechanging message of the gospel, no one wanted to hear what they had to say. Generations of tribalism had bred a mistrust of any type of leadership, especially pastors, who, in their eyes, did not practice what they preached. My parents knew that if they were to reach these people who hearts were hardened by years of racism, it could only take the Fruit of the Spirit, and more particularly, love.
Mother Theresa once said, “if you would change the world, go home and love your family.” So my father made it a point to love his wife in a way that was counter-cultural. In a time and country where gender roles were defined in a way that favored the man, my father made it a point to challenge it. Their modest home was void of the luxury of a modern stove, and Alphonse would help Thacienne draw water from the local well and bring it in their backyard, where they would cook their meals over an open fire. Their open-air kitchen allowed ample exposure to their perplexed neighbours, who could not fathom why the man was taking part in the duties that clearly belonged to the woman! In wonderment of how fond Alphonse was of his wife, a woman asked Thacienne one day, “What do you do for your man that makes him treat you so well?”
The Fruit Remains
The small Bible Study they had started began to attract people who would not normally set foot inside a church. Before long, their home was bursting with up to 200 people eager and excited to hear about Jesus. It grew so big that they literally had to knock down walls in the living room to accommodate the mini revival that was taking place! People’s lives were changed, miracles were abundant, that neighbourhood was completely transformed and was never the same. Today, decades later, you can visit that old house in Rwanda. Right beside it is a church building that still holds some of the same people whose lives were changed because a man employed the gifts of the spirit, and loved his wife
God has set you up in your neighbourhood, in your office tower, in your networks and in your family to bring the lifechanging message of Jesus. All He requires from you is to allow the Fruits of the Spirit to come out of your life until people can’t help but ask what makes you so different.