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February 2016

Your Neighbor

“…So he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” These words, taken from Luke 10:29, make up the question from the “expert in the law” who “wanted to justify himself” before Jesus, the Bible says.  You know the rest of the story. Jesus goes on to describe the account of a man in a very unfortunate situation, and the responses of three different individuals who came face to face with his need. The first two individuals that Jesus mentions are involved in ministry to one degree or another, yet when confronted with an opportunity to help someone in real need, they refuse to get involved. “It’s too inconvenient,” they might have thought. There was risk involved, for sure. The man was bloody, beaten, and left for dead. It would cost money and time, not to mention the complete deviation from their predetermined schedules for the day! Maybe they convinced themselves that their “real ministry” was in the temple; that somehow, they were exempt from paying attention to this need. God couldn’t have expected them to think that their encounter with this man was HIS doing, could he? IMG_3149

And then Jesus goes on to describe the compassionate, beautiful response of a somewhat unlikely candidate for ministry—a Samaritan—who sees the man in need and immediately takes pity on him. He was just an ordinary guy, as far as we can ascertain from the parable, making his way through another day. But not only are his eyes open to the needs around him, so is his heart! He doesn’t make excuses. He spends his money and resources and time, he rearranges his schedule, and he inconveniences himself to the degree necessary to see to it that this man receives what he needs.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus asked after telling the parable.

“The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (verses 36 and 37)

What do WE do with this Scripture passage? Isn’t Jesus talking directly to you and to me when He says to “go and do likewise”?  Isn’t God clueing us in here that ministry He deems as valuable comes through some very ordinary, inconvenient, costly, and not-so-pretty opportunities? We are told in another Scripture that Jesus was moved with compassion. Compassion is defined as “…concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

JulioJulio—a 15-year-old boy—has suffered. His misfortunes began when he was orphaned at three years old. As a small boy, he found some refuge in a religious institute that housed him. As a teenager, however, he was released and spent two years in the streets, exposed to danger, facing hunger, and without a single relative to whom he could turn. You could say that life had all but beaten Julio and left him for dead. Thankfully, though, God had a “Samaritan” lined up for Julio’s story, too. The orphanage in Peru rescued Julio, and through the monthly support that Home of Refuge gives each month, Julio and others are eating well, learning about God, healing from their broken and painful pasts, and moving into bright futures full of hope they would never have otherwise had. Sure, you might not have had to rearrange your schedule to affect Julio or others, but if you have eyes to see how God has crossed your path with the needy, you can see that your offerings and your compassionate response to the sufferings of others creates for you a chance at real “ministry”, a chance to “go and do likewise”, just as Jesus commanded.

I just came from Peru and all of the children are doing well. I am very pleased to see how well the directors are doing in the home, also. They have heeded advice from our past conversations, and it is producing beautiful results in the orphanage. Praise God!

The animals that they are raising for food are doing great. I was pleased to see how Juan is overseeing that project, which includes pigs, ducks, and hen layers.

It is summer vacation currently in Peru, and the children are benefiting greatly from the efforts of an American couple from Idaho. This lovely couple is providing reinforcement in some of the weaker subjects that the children have struggled with: English and math. They have also thrown in some arts and crafts, just for fun!

IMG_3156As I close this month’s newsletter, I leave you with this exhortation. YOU, just like in the parable of Jesus, have been handed an opportunity to do ministry. There are needy people God has brought across your path. Some of them live in your very own community…and others of them live across the world.  Wherever they live, wherever God shows them to you, don’t “pass by on the other side” while you excuse yourself of responsibility. Jesus said we are to “go and do likewise.” Will you be a Samaritan to the ones Jesus says are your “neighbors”?

Grace and peace,

Tony and Rosa Rivera

Home of Refuge International, Inc.


Tony and Rosa are very faithful, reliable, honest people.  They are the hardest workers we have ever seen; their leadership qualities have encouraged many people to help others.  Whatever Tony and Rosa decide to do, they do with excellence and perseverance. They are great people and we are privileged to know them.

Ed and Mona Shirley
Mountain High Christian Center
Conifer, Co.