3 Christians who embraced interruptions

Real life and unexpected opportunities for the Kingdom

September 23, 2019

One of the most challenging and convicting quotes I’ve ever read comes from a letter C.S. Lewis wrote:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”[1]

A daily challenge we each face is to determine what to do with these “interruptions.” Those decisions will be based in large part on how we view those whose lives intersect with our own. It’s one thing to believe that all people have dignity, but how does that influence our actions? Or, as Daniel Darling has written in his book, The Dignity Revolution, “God is calling all of us not just to see that people have dignity, but to act accordingly. Not just to know, but to do.”

When we look at history, much of this “doing” comes from what we might deem interruptions. When we see them as “real life,” a foundation of knowledge turns those interruptions into opportunities to act. Here are three stories of Christians who embraced such opportunities and changed many lives as a result:

George Müller

After growing up in the kingdom of Prussia, George Müller moved to Bristol, England, in 1832 to pastor a church. Realizing there was a great deal of poverty in Bristol, he and a fellow pastor looked for ways to serve and provide for those who had great needs. Müller also established schools to provide biblical education to the community. 

One day, Müller heard about the sadness of an orphaned boy who had been attending one of the day schools until he was taken to a poorhouse outside the city. This one child’s plight was a springboard to Müller’s life’s work—providing homes for orphaned children in Bristol. 

What he could have seen as a sad isolated story, Müller instead viewed as an opportunity for prayer and thought. Not only did he decide to open an orphan house, he used it to demonstrate the faithfulness and sufficiency of God to the people of Bristol by determining never to ask for money for the great needs of the orphan ministry. As a result, more than 17,000 orphans were given homes through his ministry, and God provided over a million pounds to meet their needs (equivalent to more than $100 million in today’s American currency).[2]

Esther Ahn Kim

Ei Sook (more famously known by her married name, Esther Ahn Kim) was born in Korea in 1908, when her country was occupied by Japan. Post-college, Ei Sook took a job teaching music at a Christian school. When Japanese officials rounded up everyone in her town, forcing them to worship at a Japanese shrine, Ei Sook was the only one who refused. Strengthened by the words of Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” Ei Sook prepared herself for the punishment to come. 

After hiding for a while in the country, Ei Sook ended up in Pyongyang, where she met a man named Elder Park who believed God was calling the two of them to go to Japan to deliver a warning to the Japanese officials. Embracing this call, they went, delivered their message, and were immediately arrested. From 1939 to 1945, Ei Sook lived in a Japanese prison, where she learned to see each prisoner as a woman loved by Christ.

One freezing night, Ei Sook heard what she described as an “eerie, moaning sound.” She was informed by a jailer that it was a 20-year-old Chinese convict who was scheduled to be put to death for killing her husband. She was locked up alone with her hands tied behind her back. Unable to get the woman out of her mind, Ei Sook asked that this dangerous prisoner could be brought to her cell. The jailer warned Ei Sook, saying, “She’s crazy. She bites everybody.” But Ei Sook was persistent. 

The following days demanded much from Ei Sook, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. One fellow prisoner remarked, “I didn’t know it was this hard to be a Christian.” Ei Sook came to a realization, saying, “Here I was, holding a woman who was unspeakably dirty. Only Jesus’ mercy could cause me to do it.” Over time, she was able to share Christ’s love with her new friend, and their fellow prisoners were amazed by the transformation they witnessed. 

When this young woman walked to her death, Ei Sook wiped the tears falling down her face, watching her walk “as though hurrying to meet Jesus Christ.” When Ei Sook decided to embrace this woman whom many called “crazy” and “dangerous,” she opened her arms to an interruption sent by God for his great glory.[3]

Granville Sharp

In 1765, Granville Sharp was employed as a clerk in the civil service in London when he had an unexpected encounter. Sharp’s brother was a doctor who treated London’s poor for free. While visiting his practice, Sharp noticed a young black man waiting for treatment. He had been badly beaten by his master, David Lisle. The Sharp brothers took the young man, named Jonathan Strong, under their care and nursed him back to health over the course of two years. When Lisle happened to see Strong, he realized he could still earn money off him, so he sold him to be sent to Jamaica. Granville Sharp, seeing the injustice of this, brought the case before the Lord Mayor of London, who sided with Sharp. Strong’s new and old masters both tried to fight the outcome, but Strong, greatly weakened from his beating, died in 1770 at the age of 25. 

Sharp was not done fighting, though. Two years later, he took up the case of James Somerset, the slave of a customs officer from Boston. In 1769, his master had brought Somerset to England, and in 1771, Somerset escaped. Upon being recaptured, Somerset was forced aboard a ship bound for Jamaica, a British colony. Granville Sharp became involved, and the captain of the ship was ordered to bring Somerset before the British court, where his case would be heard by Lord Chief Justice Mansfield. The gist of Sharp’s case was that colonial slavery laws did not apply in England. The judge ruled in Somerset’s favor, and this ”Mansfield ruling” set a precedent that led to the freedom of other slaves brought from America to England, such as poet Phillis Wheatley.

After the Mansfield decision, Sharp continued to fight for abolition of the British slave trade, working with Olaudah Equiano, Thomas Clarkson, and William Wilberforce. Seen as “the father of the [abolition] movement,” Sharp’s life had taken a trajectory he would never have predicted before that momentary meeting with Jonathan Strong. Due to a deep faith in God, Sharp immediately recognized injustice and was ready to act when the moment for action arose.[4]

What are the interruptions God might be using in your life to point you to a place where you can act on behalf of God’s image-bearers, loving and serving them with the love and strength of Christ?


  1. ^ From a 1943 letter from C.S. Lewis, included in Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis
  2. ^ George Müller, The Autobiography of George Müller (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1985).
  3. ^ Esther Ahn Ki, If I Perish (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2001).
  4. ^ Vincent Carretta, Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia Press, 2011).

Catherine Parks

Catherine Parks writes and lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two children, and a cute dog named Ollie. She's the author of Empowered and Strong, collections of biographies for middle-grade readers. You can find more of her writing at cathparks.com Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24