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This year, thousands of lives were transformed, millions of resources were distributed, and hundreds were given new hope—all because of the prayer and financial support of our partners. In this special blog series, we’ll share some of the core truths behind our mission to teach, reach, and rescue. To learn more about what we accomplished in 2013, click here.

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An expert in the Law of Moses once asked Jesus, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response (found in Luke 10:25-37) has become one of His most recognizable teachings. Today, we understand “good Samaritans” to be people who show mercy in response to another’s distress. They’re people who rescue others. We celebrate and commend such individuals; as Christians, we strive to be among them, and rightly so.

Perhaps, however, so many generations from the time of its telling, we have missed what would have been obvious about this story to Jesus’ original audience. We understand the divine directive into compassion, but when the word Samaritan has a positive connotation, we may easily miss the point Jesus was making.

The hero in Jesus’ story was a man known to be outside of covenant with God. I believe this was intended to seem absurd. The point was that it is just as preposterous to think that someone could know God and not love his fellow men as it is to believe that we could care for each other—sacrificially and inexhaustibly—without first experiencing the infinite love of the Most High.

The apostle John wrote:

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. …We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:10-11, 19 NLT)

Rescue is a big deal to us. This year we worked with on-site partners to rescue 223 women and children from slavery and arrest over 45 traffickers. Your prayers and financial support played a huge role in this work, and we will never have adequate words for the privilege of carrying God’s justice to the exploited and abused.

But in a generation tuned in to the idea of social justice, there’s something to keep in mind. God’s kind of justice—of compassion, of mercy—doesn’t flourish independently of the knowledge of His love. That idea, according to the logic of Luke 10, is absurd. So as people intent on bringing God’s justice to a world in desperate need of it, let’s make first things first.

There are millions of men, women, and children who need to be rescued, and it’s going to take real action and real involvement to see God’s will done on earth as in heaven. We won’t be passive bystanders who nod at the idea of justice and then let someone else do the heavy lifting. In the coming year, we will continue to rescue the oppressed, disempower darkness, and share the transforming truth of the gospel. But we can’t skip straight to the action and forget to know God’s love for ourselves. We can’t be so much about the doing for God that we neglect the knowing of Him.

As you consider the ways you can be part of rescue in 2014—whether by intervening in your immediate sphere or by partnering with us around the world—remember to get off on the right foot. You can start by saying this prayer:

Father, let my roots grow down into Your love and keep me strong. I ask for the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is. I want to experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully, so that I can be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from You. I want to be a carrier of Your justice, and I want that justice to be the fruit of the revelation of Your love. I want to know You better so that I can better partner with You in bringing Your love to those in need. (Adapted from Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

To learn more about Rescue, the work accomplished in 2013, and how you can get involved, click here.