October 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Jesus, Matthew 5:7
I recently had the privilege of visiting with the Senior Vice President of World Relief’s North American operation. World Relief is a global non-profit organization, based in Baltimore, and committed to caring for the weak and needy around the world, whether for orphans, for immigrants, for victims of natural disaster, or those lost in the horrors and brutality of human trafficking. Years ago, when our church in Miami planted a church in ‘Little Havana,’ the ‘landing place’ for many immigrants from Latin America, World Relief had an office where we started the work. That office remains today, and as you can imagine, has processed innumerable refugees through the years, offering legal advice, guidance for green cards, citizenship, etc.
At the heart of World Relief’s mission is the gospel’s call to the Church with the singular thrust that the strong have been made – by God – stewards of the weak. I am convinced that if the Church fails, all is lost. Every other system that attempts to care for the poor, the weak and the underprivileged has some underlining political agenda that eventually fails the very people they attempt to serve, and often lines the pockets and reputations of those who champion these causes.
World Relief’s Vision Statement is Stand/For The Vulnerable.
Last night Katherine and I shared a meal with a young couple that is committed to mentoring young people from Baltimore’s Inner City whose lives are racked with heartache, brokenness and poverty. They give what they can: safe harbor, school clothing and supplies – and love. They stand for the vulnerable.
This morning I ran into one of our Members (okay it was at Dunkin Donuts – what can I say?). He leads a team that regularly meets with folks at New Song Church in Sandtown, the neighborhood ravaged by fire and riots earlier this year. New Song drives the agenda, but together they are working through ideas to generate commerce in the neighborhood so that the dollar will remain there, and hopefully begin to break the pattern of violence, hopelessness and sorrow that most of us in the burbs can’t fathom possible. They stand for the vulnerable.
We have a friend in Miami who, when she and her family attended a downtown church, for years, drove an hour away from her home, to the slums of Little Haiti, to bring children to church and later that week to Youth Group. In between she and her husband kept in touch, provided for needs and loved well. They stood for the vulnerable.
‘Blessed are the Merciful,’ was Jesus version of, ‘Blessed are they who stand for the vulnerable.’ Every word, action and encounter exemplified this during His ministry, all the way to the Cross, where He died for us – the vulnerable.
Who more than Christians, know the relief of being forgiven a debt one could never repay?
We have been given much – in order to be to the world what Christ has been to us. It really is that simple. And when those we serve feel our touch, it will be as though they have encountered Jesus Himself.
What good, hopeful news…
September 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
“Encountering God’s grace is a formative, creative moment as a result of which a person is not only graced by God’s love but also becomes gracious because of God’s love.” Scott Hoezee, The Riddle of Grace
You have to know that I’m a creature of habit. Rarely does a week pass when I don’t do the same thing – the exact same thing, on particular days. On Thursday and Friday, unless something wildly spectacular beckons, you will find me in my little, peaceful Dunkin Donuts, in line to get my extra large coffee (with an occasional donut). Friday afternoon and Saturday mornings are reserved for Starbucks, but Dunkin Donuts sustains me through the week. This week was no exception.
But on Friday, at the counter in front of a long line, was a woman who commanded a huge order. We’re talking boxes and boxes of donuts, bags of bagels, etc. It took forever, and somewhere in the course of the transaction, the volume on her voice began to rise. Those of us in line took note, observing the woman while wondering how the staff would respond. In spite of their patience and attentiveness, she became even louder, and we, more uncomfortable.
Unfortunately this led another younger woman to pass by her and offer some exchange – I have no idea what was said or done, but this only intensified the moment. The two women dropped the ‘f-bomb’ on one another, and we stood in shock. One of our church Members, a football coach, was there as well. Men, women, children – all there to witness this surreal moment.
And I thought about it all morning. What was that all about?
A bad day?
A hard heart?
A misunderstood person?
A misinterpreted gesture?
A hurt, wounded human under pressure?
Every instinct within me wanted to presume motives, rush to judgment and ascribe blame. In the moment, the Clark Kent in me wanted to turn into Superman to rescue the situation – but that would have been like throwing gasoline on a campfire.
No, it was one of those instances when the façade of a neatly packaged day came unglued and exposed at the seams by the ever-present ugliness of the curse.
I thought it was ‘them.’
Didn’t see that coming.
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jesus, John 8:7
Thank you, Jesus – You are our good news…