Ephesians tells us that we receive the grace of God through faith—not works (Eph. 2:8-9). But according to James, our faith must have corresponding actions (James 2:17-18). What are those actions? They are the works of grace.
For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:13, International Standard Version
God’s heart beats for people. But what is the most effective way to share His grace with others? Is it with words or through works? First Peter tells us to "live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us" (1 Peter 2:12, New International Version).
On a recent missions trip to India, Charis Bible College student Jon Hay discovered the truth of that verse when a group of Indian Christians planned a conference on the eve of a major pagan holiday. “On the day of the conference, the entire country shut down to honor Shiva, their god of destruction. There was a lot of opposition to our meeting, and it was unclear whether it would be safe for us to hold it. But I knew that God was with us and that He would open the doors for us to do what He’d called us there to do.”
The first session of the conference was well-attended and finished without incident. At least 100 people responded to the love of God demonstrated by the team. But Jon was unprepared for what transpired during the evening session. “When we returned in the evening, the Hindu holiday was in full force. The streets were packed with revelers! God did amazing things during the meeting. We saw demons cast out, people healed, and children blessed. Toward the end of the meeting, the pastor of the church approached my teammate Teresa and me for assistance. He led us out of the meeting and told us someone needed prayer.”
Directed to the neighboring house of a major councilor in the Hyderabad government, Jon and Teresa met the woman responsible for the opposition to their meeting. The house was full of idols, but what Jon and Teresa noticed first was the stress in the woman’s eyes. “The Hindu woman told us of some major decisions she had to make for her job and the number of people pressuring her for counsel. She explained some of the physical complications she was experiencing (like diabetes and high blood pressure) because of her high-stress job and asked us if we would pray for her. Teresa and I laid hands on her and began to pray. Immediately, the peace of God overflowed in that room! We spoke life, healing, and peace over her and her family.”
The woman expressed her gratitude to Jon and Teresa for extending love to her without force or demands. And though she did not acknowledge Christ as Lord that day, the seed of His Word was planted in her heart because of their works of grace. Jon is fully expecting God to “use that time to do great things throughout India!”