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Topic: Hope
Scripture: Mark 16:15; Isaiah 61:1; 1 Timothy 2:5
Author: Illustration Exchange

Despite owning a home perched atop a high cliff with a scenic ocean view in Sydney, Australia, Don and Moya Ritchie live on a plot of real estate that can best be described as something out of a bad dream. The rocky cliff is known as The Gap–the most notorious suicide destination in the country.

While most people would surely move away, the Ritchies have stayed for almost 50 years, saving an estimated 160 people from taking the leap.

Every morning Mr. Ritchie wakes up and looks out the window to see if anyone is “standing alone too close to the precipice.” If he senses someone may be contemplating suicide, he approaches them and asks if they’d like to talk over a cup of tea. “I’m offering them an alternative,” he says.

The retired life insurance salesman says he’s not “burdened” by the reality of what happens in close proximity to his house. Instead, he and his wife of 58 years have learned to look at it as a calling. He says it’s wonderful to have saved so many, to have “sold them” on life.

“I think,” says Moya, “isn’t it wonderful that we live here and we can help people?”

In recognition of their efforts, the Ritchies were named 2010’s Citizens of the Year. In 2006, the government recognized Don’s efforts with a Medal of the Order of Australia, among the nation’s highest civilian honors.

Although Ritchie claims to have seen more saved than lost as a result of his reaching out to them, too many have perished. One teenager ignored his invitation and suddenly jumped as the wind blew the boy’s hat back into Ritchie’s outstretched hand.

He later found out the teen had lived next door years earlier. His mother brought Ritchie flowers and thanked him for trying. “If you couldn’t have talked him out of it,” she told him, “no one could.”

At 84, Ritchie has spent the last year battling cancer. But he remains optimistic that his efforts to save lives will continue even after his passing: “I imagine somebody else will come along and do what I’ve been doing.”

As Mr. Ritchie awaits his replacement, there hangs in his living room a painting of a [sunrise] which someone left in his mailbox. On it is a message thanking him for being “an angel that walks amongst us.”

Application:

Where do you live and who is it that needs your help? Like the Ritchies, most of us don’t have to go searching for people in need; they’re right outside our door. They may not be treading the precipice of a literal cliff, but they do walk precariously close to the edge of eternity.

The word angel means messenger. God has given every believer a message to share with a lost and dying world. It’s a message of hope that promises eternal life to all who believe.

Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15). Paul added, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Wherever you are, no matter how grim the need, say with Moya, “Isn’t it wonderful to live here so I can help people.”

Then there will be angels who walk among us!

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” (Isaiah 61:1).

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