During the 1990s, Jan and I were based in Berlin, Germany with an assignment to serve the nations of Eastern Europe, nations that were previously under the rule of the old Soviet Union. Those nations were recovering from decades of dominance under the hard fist of Communism. Goods and services from the West were not readily available.
When I traveled into those nations, many times I would take two suitcases. I bought the suitcases with a mission in mind. I wanted a smaller suitcase that was able to fit inside the larger one. Before departing on a trip, I would fill the larger suitcase with gifts and food not available in Eastern Europe. I especially enjoyed filling the larger suitcase with toys for the children of the pastors. One family said, “Santa Claus has arrived!” It was a joy to open the suitcase and see the faces of the families who would receive the gifts. On the way back to Berlin the smaller suitcase that was filled with my clothing fit neatly inside the larger one now empty of its gifts.
Many years ago, the Lord revealed to me the power of anticipating the needs of others. When I would speak to a team of new ushers in the churches where I pastored, I would tell them, “Your primary task is to anticipate the needs of people and serve those need before they have to ask.” The principle can be applied to every area of our ministry.
The same principle applies to all aspects of life. To serve and give before someone is compelled to ask tells the recipient that we see and understand what they are going through. The pastors and the families Jan and I served in Eastern Europe would never ask for food or gifts for their kids. Neither do most of the people currently in our lives. My extra suitcase revealed the heart of God. Its arrival was an announcement that joy had arrived. There are few experiences that can exceed that kind of blessing, both for the giver, and the ones who received an unexpected blessing from the Lord. If we could live that way every day, we would change the world, one person, one family, and one city at a time.