Wednesday 8 October 2014

Love sacrificially

Students at Smithville Christian High School were challenged to "love sacrificially" in order to demonstrate God's heart for the poor and vulnerable.

Alumnus Devon VanHoffen (Class of 2012) was this week's chapel speaker, sharing an account of his experiences living and volunteering in Zambia for the past year with Hands at Work in Africa — a Christian non-profit organization that helps local churches care for the neediest people in their communities.

"Inside each one of us, God us calling us to care for the poor," Devon said, sharing some of the 300 passages from Scripture that speak of God's compassion for the poor. "Trust in him and give of yourself, just as he gave to you."

Devon said he was profoundly moved by the suffering of the people he met, many of whom were sick or orphaned by HIV, and who were struggling in the midst of great adversity to care for those around them. He joined other volunteers from local churches to help feed and care for sick people, sometimes able to only "listen to their stories and pray with them," but other times called to do things "that you are not comfortable with."

Devon said he was inspired by his colleague, Reuben, another volunteer, who worked tirelessly feeding and caring for the sick in his community.

"We do this, not because we want to earn salvation, but because we have received salvation," Devon said.

Referring to this year's spiritual emphasis theme, "Going Deeper," Devon urged students to "go deeper" in their relationships with God and with each other.

"Love above all," Devon said. "Love sacrificially, as I have seen people love like this, in ways that both break my heart and give me hope."

Here is a video of images from Devon's work.

Devon first visited Africa in 2012, when he travelled to South Africa as part of a team from Smithville Christian High School. It was on his first visit there that "God grabbed his heart," said spiritual life director Gord Park, who said he had the privilege of being part of Devon's team.

Devon will be returning to Zambia, but is currently raising money to fund his work there. You can support his efforts by attending a praise and worship event October 18 at Rose City Kids in Welland.

To support Devon financially, download a giving form.

To read more about Hands at Work in Africa visit

To read more about what God has to say about caring for the poor, here are some of the Scripture passages cited by Devon:
  • Psalm 68:5
  • Leviticus 19:9-10
  • Isaiah 1:17
  • Ezekiel 16:44
  • Job 29:11-16
  • Job 31:16-23
  • Luke 3:9
  • James 1:27
  • James 2:14-18
  • 1 John 3:16
A student praise team led in worship with Desert Song, Mountaintop and I Will Follow.

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