The first Note appeared on January 1, 2001. I thought it was a dumb idea. But a Note has gone out every week since then: 1,046 Notes, 62 writers from 5 countries, 20 years…so far.
I wasn’t wrong, just not as right as I normally am. It’s been amazing what God has done with all the Notes He has sent to 186 countries, several who do not welcome Christians.
All of us in Ciloa, now and in the past, have been incredibly blessed in all of this, especially by those who let us know what God is telling them through the Notes and those who simply want to encourage us.
My hope is they will see Jesus through me.
We’re never sure how a Note will do. Liked? Hated? We only know that God chooses a Note for a certain week, but often not why. Then a response arrives making it all clear…and why Ciloa is so important.
Last week we shared a Note I wrote 20 years ago comparing my cat Newly to broken people.1 The following response to the original Note is one of the most powerful and haunting we have ever received:
I try to keep my heart open. Because I never know when God will send “stray cats” to my doorstep. My hope is they will see Jesus through me and know there is a God…who loves them and who rescues the lost and the hurting. This I know for a fact because…I am the cat in your story.
Each year I begin with just one resolution.
As certain as the world will revolve,
armed with wishes, we boldly resolve.
Then the bright morning star will shine truth from afar,
and the way “we” have made will completely dissolve.
We make our lists one day, then scratch them off the next.
Our memory seems far too brief to even grasp the text.
But I will draw closer to God and He will draw closer to me.
I will love Him more, encourage others more,
and become more the person He has called me to be.2
Following Jesus…loving and encouraging each other…caring for others…reaching out to the stray cats of the world. This is the life Jesus calls us to live. This is what should be important. But can anyone tell?
May people walk up to you and say, “You believe in Jesus, don’t you?” May your actions shout back, “I know the man!” And may your days be ever blessed by the stray cats in your story.
This Note is dedicated to the memory of Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev, who in 2000 gave his belongings to his church and began daily begging on the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria, giving all he collected to churches, orphanages, monasteries and charities. He died Feb. 13, 2018 at the age of 103.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) All the Broken People. (2) A New Year Resolution by Chuck Graham (2005).
Pictures: Banner Shot: The Hand of God, a painting by Yongsung Kim. 1st Photo: Encouraging Note by Chuck Graham. 2nd Photo: Poor Man by Mike/Unsplash. 3rd Photo: Dobri Dobrev, the Saint of Bailova, by Vlado Trifonov.