Chicago: Moody Press, 2017
God knows what we need in life, as well when we need it. He knew I needed to read The Yes Effect just at the time in my life when I was moving from paid ministry to volunteer ministry. This powerful little book has inspired me to look for where God is working and join Him by saying, “YES!” Most of us want to do great things, but sometimes the needs in the world seem insurmountable. That’s why a book like this is helpful. It’s full of stories about people, some very ordinary, who stepped out in faith to be greatly used of God.
The author of The Yes Effect is veteran mission mobilizer, Luis Bush. Dr. Bush was the originator of the 10/40 Window concept which has helped Christians to focus on a geographic region located 10 to 40 degrees north latitude where there are large, dense populations of people suffering from severe poverty, as well as limited access to the gospel.
More recently Bush has championed the 4/14 Window which seeks to protect, nurture and empower children worldwide to embrace their inheritance in Christ. He has rightly noted that the great majority of believers everywhere in the world accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord between the ages of four and fourteen. He also correctly observes that there are hundreds of thousands of children this age around the world who lack access to their basic human needs: healthcare, water, food and education.
In THE YES EFFECT: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You Bush motivates his readers by recounting numerous stories of God moving through the “yes” of His people. From communist China to the slums of Cairo, these accounts show that when God works in us, we join His work around us. True transformation is sparked when we reorient our hearts, get in sync with God’s tenderness toward the oppressed, and regain compassion for the lost in one part of the world or the needy suffering from a particular critical need.
Don’t try to do everything. Focus! Here’s a great suggestion by Bush, “Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of flitting from one thing to another and becoming desensitized to the most dire needs around us, we would stop and attend to the pain of one person or place.”
Blogger and author Christie Purifey writes, “When we say yes to God, even in small things, our hearts and then our communities can be transformed to an extent we might never have imagined. THE YES EFFECT revealed my own place in a much larger story of God’s goodness and faithfulness and inspired me to go on, every day, saying yes.”
I challenge you to read this 199 page, fast-moving book when you can carve out the time, but you can start right now by reading the following excerpts. Seek to determine what need in the world or in your community ignites your heart and drives you to prayer. Talk about it with your Christian friends and family one-on-one, as well as in groups large and small. As you read, pray that God would motivate you, change you, and ultimately transform others around you as you follow Him in new and exciting ways in your neighborhood, city, country, and world.
STORY OF YUE YUE IN CHINA (pp 39-42)
Working away at tasks in their shop, the little girl’s parents had their backs turned. They didn’t notice, but their two-year old, Yue Yue, had toddled into the alley that cut through the middle of the hardware market in Guangdong Province, China. The tiny girl stood in the open space for a few moments, wide-eyed with curiosity, turning her head toward the big bright sale signs hanging over the entrances. Then she turned to look toward a stack of parcels of fabric bundled on the ground. While taking in the sights of the alley, she didn’t see the danger coming for her.
A white van speeding down the lane hit Yue Yue head-on, knocking her to the concrete and rolling over her with one of the front tires. Inexplicably, the driver hit the brakes, put the van into reverse, and moved back a few inches before shifting into drive. He hit the gas to move forward, sadly rolling over the little girl’s body again, before finally driving away.
In the minutes that followed, a middle-aged man began walking toward Yue Yue. Somehow she was still breathing. Yet he stepped around, keeping his eyes from meeting those of the crumpled girl on the ground. From the other direction, a man on a motor scooter zipped across the alley, changing his course to avoid the severely wounded toddler. Seemingly invisible, she lay there as yet another pedestrian passed her by, not looking, not stopping, not daring even to move her out of the middle of the street.
Then further harm came. This time around, it took on the form of a truck. Without slowing or swerving, the driver rolled his tires right over the little girl. Yue Yue moved her arms as if to wave for help. She needed someone to see her, to care, to come. Instead her fellow citizens passed by her, hardly giving a second glance.
There was a man in a motorized rickshaw, another driving a bicycle cart, another on a scooter, another steering a rickshaw loaded with cardboard scraps, another on a motorcycle. All who approached drove right on by, leaving the little wounded person sprawled on the street like worthless garbage. A second motorcyclist, this one wearing a cape, passed between the crumpled girl and a child holding hands with her mother. The caped man, another could-be hero, came back again to look at the crushed child – three times. But he failed to reach out to the girl, to look for her parents, or to call for help. Hope, was fading – fast. If not a hero with a cape, then who?
After yet another man walked by, the long awaited hero walked onto the scene. But this hero wasn’t wearing a cape. This hero didn’t have an insignia popping out on top of superhuman muscles. In fact, this hero didn’t seem to have many muscles at all. This hero was just an old woman, a trash collector walking into the alley to do her job. She was unlikely hero perhaps, but a hero nonetheless. When it came down to it, she was the only who could tell the difference between Yue Yue and the trash.
The woman stopped in the middle of the now-quiet street, a bag of garbage still in hand, and she stared at Yue Yue from some distance. Almost in slow motion, she placed the bag of garbage into her pile and looked around, seemingly puzzled and dismayed that no one else had seen this wounded child on the road and had come to her aid. With her hands now freed, the trash lady walked over to the girl and stood over her with shocked urgency. Yue Yue, somehow still alive, turned her body with what little motion she had left, desperately grasped at her head, and looked up at the woman.
“I was picking up trash in the hardware market when I saw a child lying in the road,” Chen Zianmel, said in an interview with “China Daily”. … Finally, Chen decided to carefully drag Yue Yue out of harm’s way, and place her next to the parcels on the side of the road so she could go find help. Yue Yue made it to the Guangdong Military Hospital, but after a week in a coma, her tiny heart stopped.
Each of the eighteen people who passed by Yue Yue either denied seeing her or confessed to being too afraid to step in to help. Yue Yue may have had a chance of surviving if one of the earlier passersby had cared enough to do what Chen had done. From the time the surveillance footage first made rounds through Chinese social media and then circled the globe there has been much scrutiny from citizens of the world, and soul searching in China itself, about what kind of society China has become that at least eighteen witnesses would turn a blind eye to an injured dying child.
Most of us would say we would never walk by a wounded child, but we neglect the wounded in smaller ways. Maybe because we know our consciences are still sensitive enough to feel that punch in the gut when we come across sad situations, we instead try to insulate ourselves, to keep ourselves from seeing or knowing. We subconsciously keep ourselves from coming near so we don’t have to wrestle with the discomfort of helping. The busyness of daily routines at home; the unrelenting schedules of school, work, and even church; overstimulation from too much media; the overwhelming need in far-off places, and feeling like there is no practical way to help – all of these can numb us to the plight of others. Psalm 138:6 tells us, “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.”
STORY OF IBRAHIM HADDAD IN SWITZERLAND (pp 81-83)
As the bus driver pulled the lever to seal the door shut, my friend Ibrahim Haddad and a few of his fellow passengers lamented that they hadn’t thought to pick up a bottle of water as they raced to catch their ride. The team had rushed through the sweltering streets of Geneva to make it to the busses for our drive to France where we would be for the remainder of our Transform World 2020 Global Leadership Summit in 2014. Onboard, a cool rush from the air conditioning served as a refreshing prize. Soon, Ibrahim and friends were rolling along the highway, gazing at the beauty of the lush French countryside from the comfort of their chartered bus seats.
But then, a strange sound came from the dashboard of the bus, the sound of sprockets and gears whirring to a stop. The wheels on the bus continued to propel them forward. The engine was still working, but with the sudden thud from the console came a quick interruption to the passengers’ comfort. Air was no longer flowing through the vents. Almost immediately, the 90 degree outdoor temperatures and the heat of the engine began to bake the interior of the bus. Riders’ cheeks turned a warm color of red. The fabric on the seats soaked up sweat. It became difficult to get a full breath of oxygen. Passengers began to check on the elderly participants and young children sitting near. As those on board worked to find some air, the agitation brought on by their discomfort only increased the temperature level. One friend spoke to the driver in French and fiddled with the controls at the front of the bus. Others looked at the large windows and sighed at the fact that there was no way to open them. Ibrahim looked up at the ceiling, at the escape hatch screwed shut. He and a friend did what they could to pry it open, they stuck an orange in as a placeholder to create a small trickle of airflow. One of our house prayer advocates began to pray aloud for an answer to the problem. As the conditions continued to worsen, the passengers consulted with the driver and decided to pull into a rest stop so everyone could get out of the bus, sip some water from a drinking fountain, and cool down.
As Ibrahim, a brawny fellow much affected by the heat, left the bus, he did so not only without complaining about the sweat on his skin or the change of plans, but also with a sense of expectancy. He trusted the Lord and ascribed to what C. S. Lewis wrote in THE FOUR LOVES, “But, for a Christian, there are strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work.”
Ibrahim came out of the restroom, blotting his forehead with a cloth, and soon noticed a truck driver taking a break. This was a man who looked like he might speak Ibrahim’s own language. Ibrahim greeted him in Arabic, the man answered back, and the two talked for nearly thirty minutes while the crew waited for a new bus. In the course of their conversation, Ibrahim handed this Muslim refugee a New Testament, and the two talked about Isa, Jesus. An hour later, when Ibrahim boarded the replacement bus with working air conditioning, he walked up the steps with excitement, explaining to all onboard that their plans for a smooth ride had been thwarted for a reason. Ibrahim trusted that God sometimes allows unpleasant situations so we will step out for the divine appointments He has prepared for us. God gets us uncomfortable to get us moving.
Discomfort can turn our lives upside down, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The question is what you will do with it. When your plans are overturned, will you accept God’s invitation to turn over your life to Him? Saying yes to a chain reaction life with God often starts with letting go of our previous plans. World changers cast aside business as usual to take on a higher calling.
STORY OF REFUGEES IN THE US (pp 95-98)
Stepping out doesn’t have to mean stepping into a different socioeconomic class. Neither does it have to mean crossing national borders or oceans. Sometimes moving our feet in sync with the Holy Spirit means stepping out to welcome others who have shown up in our neighborhoods. And perhaps no other area of the world has welcomed more newcomers in recent days than those Middle Eastern countries receiving Syrians and Iraqis who have fled their war-ravaged nations. For my friend Nabil Salib, stepping out means driving the roads of his country in search of unregistered refugees, those who aren’t listed to receive aid from the United Nations. Nabil estimates that only 10 percent of refugees in his nation are actually registered. In January 2016, Doctors without Borders reported, “An astonishing 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced, with an additional 4.1 million having fled to Egypt Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey – the countries bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis since the start of the Syria’s civil war in 2011. Combined, this is more than half of the country’s 23 million people.” A refugee woman with a scar like a zipper across her neck, a family with a bombed-out apartment and missing relatives, a toddler in the water – people like these call us to step out and do something.
The refugee crisis became a hot-button topic in the United States in late 2015 as terrorist attacks in Paris, and then an attack in San Bernardino, California, raise questions about the process of vetting those, especially refugees, seeking residency in the United States. In times like this, citizens in more stable countries can be tempted not only to stay inside the safety of their well-tended communities, but even to build higher walls, seeking to protect residents from those who are “other.”
This is not a simple issue. The fear that many citizens have expressed should not be dismissed without consideration. As Paul points out in 1 Timothy 2:1-3, we should pray so that we can “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” No matter our political affiliation, we should pray for our leaders to be wise in cultivating and protecting this place of relative peace, both for ourselves and the weary ones we welcome. What a tragedy it would be to allow in the very terrorists that refugees now in our midst had once escaped, to allow this place of intended safety to become the war zone so many had fled. At the same time, we must work to avoid the tragedy of closing our hearts to those hurled from their homelands into the mountains and sea, those who are searching for the same peaceful, quiet lives for themselves. The United States has historically been one of the most charitable countries in the world. We must find a way to step out and engage with the huddled masses before us now. The crisis, in all its complexity, is an invitation for us to treat the outsider as God has treated us – with love, with compassion, with mercy.
Some of us are called to work in the places closest to the crisis. Others are called to do their part by helping to relocate the world’s displaced peoples to new environments where they can flourish, or by working out kinks in the vetting process to ensure that both our land and those war-ravaged innocents entering in are kept safe. … We are called to step out of our comfort zone to welcome those coming into our communities, those seeking peace and quiet, and a way to feed their families.
When we struggle to connect with those suffering as a result of such complicated situations, it helps to remember times of need in our own lives. When have you felt abused, abandoned, overlooked, tired, and hungry? Remembering our difficulties, even those that seem small or insignificant in comparison, can help us feel for and act on behalf of those experiencing difficulty now. God Himself urges His people to work from a place of empathy. He encourages His people to think back on their own history and treat others as they themselves wanted to be treated. “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34.)
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What feelings do stories like these evoke for you?
- What are some of the excuses or justifications that you tend to use to convince yourself not to say yes to the opportunities God presents you?
- Is it difficult to know when God is calling you to something? How do you know?
- Read Matthew 25:31-46. What does Jesus’ admonishment in this passage speak to you? Do you have any specific thoughts as to what God may be calling you to today?