It is a vast front, stretching from the most impoverished reaches of the developing world to the hectic struggle to preserve caring values in our own towns and cities. I have never been able to reach these front lines without finding Christian volunteers already in the thick of it, mobilizing congregations that care, and being a faithful witness to truth the primary light in the darkness, and so often the only light.
Now this is something the media and government officials rarely acknowledge, for religion confuses many and anyway, we all like to blow our own horns. So front line efforts of Christianity do not usually produce headlines, and unfortunately this feeds the myth that the church just follows along, to do its modest bit.
Let me repeat, I've never reached a war zone, or famine group or crisis anywhere where some church organization was not there long before me sturdy, remarkable souls, usually too kind to ask 'What took you so long?'
I don't slight any of the hard work done by other religions or those wonderful secular NGOs I've dealt with so much over the years. They work closely with church efforts, they are noble allies. But no, so often in desperate areas it is Christian groups there first, that labour heroically during the crisis and continue on long after all the media and the visiting celebrities have left.
Now I came to this admiring view slowly and reluctantly. At the start of my career, I'd largely abandoned religion for I, too, regarded the church as a rather tiresome irrelevance. What ultimately persuaded me otherwise and I took a lot of persuading was the reality of Christianity's mission, physically and in spirit, before my very eyes. It wasn't the attraction of great moments of grandeur although I admit covering this Pope on six of his early trips abroad, including his first one to Mexico and then epic returns to Poland, certainly shook any assumptions I had of Christianity as a fading force.
No, the millions upon millions gathered was impressive; but I was more moved by quiet individual moments of character, and courage that seems to anchored to some deep core within Christianity." 
Courage and Godspeed,
1. Brian Stewart, Christians are on the Front Lines of Compassion; I originally heard this quote in a presentation by Dr. Paul Copan.