SAN FRANCISCO – The head of the World Evangelical Alliance recently shared with graduating students some key principles on how to make a difference in the world.
First, impacting the world is first a “matter of the heart,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of WEA, during the commencement ceremony on Friday for Olivet University in San Francisco.
To illustrate his point, the evangelical leader used the story of the Good Samaritan who helped a man different than him. Tunnicliffe emphasized that the Samaritan came near to the man when others seeing the man’s broken image distanced themselves from him.
“The Samaritan comes near to the man that lays on the ground. He is in contact with the other man. This man comes close to the different,” Tunnicliffe said, before noting that all mankind is the creation of God.
“Who is not precious in the eyes of God? Who is the son He doesn’t love?” the WEA head asked.
Although individuals may be overwhelmed by reports of the more than 6.5 million children who die each year because of poverty and the over 33 million people who are currently living with AIDS, Tunnicliffe dispelled the idea that one individual is too small to make a difference in the world.
“When you think about those facts, you can just think they are facts,” said Tunnicliffe. “But we have got to open up our hearts.”
“If you want to make a difference in the world, then you need to come near. You must open up your heart,” he said. “You must have compassion. You don’t need to do everything, but there are specific things that you must help and you can do.”
Turning back to the story of the Samaritan, Tunnicliffe pointed out that the man who helped did only what he could do at the moment to assist the sick man.
“This Samaritan man … performed a few acts of love…. He didn’t perform brain surgery, he just bandaged him up; he didn’t even cancel his business trip, but he did what he could,” the WEA director explained.
He concluded by challenging the graduating students to make a decision.
“Which one do you want to be? The one who crosses the road or the one who stops and comes near?” asked Tunnicliffe. “Friends, this life is the one life you have. Which is it going to be? Are you going to make a difference for Jesus Christ? Then you need to come close, you need to have compassion and you have got to open your heart.
“I can’t do everything. I can’t fix everything, but when God helps then you can do something,” he concluded. “I encourage you to be men and women whom God can call good Samaritans.”
After giving the keynote speech at Olivet University’s 2007 commencement ceremony, Tunnicliffe was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from the college.
Olivet University, located in San Francisco, is a Presbyterian Christian college known for its distance-learning programs and its mission-oriented educational system. Founded by the Rev. Dr. David J. Jang, a member of the WEA’s North American Council, the school is also networked with several Christian ministries that encourage students to apply their theological knowledge and practical skills learned in the classroom to the Christian workplace.
Editor's Note: Eunice Or from The Gospel Herald contributed to this report from San Francisco.