This weekend, many Americans will express thanks for their freedom as they celebrate Independence Day. The idea of freedom means different things to different people: freedom from want, freedom from oppression, freedom to succeed, freedom to say and do as we please.
As Christians, we understand freedom in a very exciting way. Ephesians 3:12 says, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” That means God allows us to come to him directly through prayer—we are free to talk to him, share our lives with him, and worship him with not fear, but joy.
Sadly, many people in our world aren’t free in this sense. About 78 million people don’t have access to the Bible in their native language, and about 1.2 billion people have never heard the gospel. What are we as Christians to do about this? Can we do anything at all?
Here’s a story that can help us take heart: In the Tete Cathedral Parish in northern Mozambique, orphans and vulnerable children often have no choice but to beg in the streets, hoping for a meal. Elisa, who lives in Tete, lost her father as a child, and her mother often couldn’t provide enough food for her and her five siblings.
“Our suffering started,” Elisa said. “Some days we had nothing to eat. Sometimes our mother went to her family to ask for food. Other days we went to our friends’ house. To silence the stomach we drank water and slept without food.”
Thankfully, someone came to her aid: the Tete Center, a day center supported by Cross International Catholic Outreach that provides orphans and vulnerable children with meals, clothing, school supplies, and help with medical expenses. A sister from the Tete Center saw the need in Elisa’s family and invited her and her younger sisters to attend the center. Life has improved greatly since enrolling at the center, she says. In a letter she wrote to Cross Catholic, she described the hope she found at the Tete Center: “Our life changed, and we are not suffering so much anymore. We study and hope for a better future.”
God calls us to use our freedom to give in his name, to offer of ourselves when no one else will. Thanks to gifts from caring American Catholics, children like Prince and Princess experience God’s love through us. Galatians 5:13 says, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” God calls us to use our freedom for good, for serving each other in his name. He reminds us that we can’t understand freedom only in the sense of what we aren’t forced to do; he asks us to think of freedom in terms of what we are at liberty to do for others.
Click here to read about how you can serve others in God’s name through orphanages and other programs supported by Cross International Catholic Outreach.