When God gave me a vision and message to share with New Vision Fellowship one year ago, I shared wholeheartedly the significant point that our faith must be converted into action by finding ways to make a difference in our community. Our days of talking about how much the world needs God had to change to actions on our part that changed the world that needs God.
This began by looking at ways to help, and we pulled together very quickly and dug in to make a difference. As we moved through our first year, we found ways to express our faith through actions, helping at Saint Child, offering Thanksgiving meals to those in need, helping at Alder House, participating in a charity walk/run for ARMS, and dropping over $1000 at the Farmer’s Market in Beaverton to help our neighbors afford to pay for their fresh food.
This fall we decided to focus more specifically on helping at Saint Child one month and then Medical Teams International (MTI) the next month (while also continuing our involvement and service in other ways in the community). However, the decision to partner more specifically with two groups coincided to God’s call this fall on New Vision Fellowship to go deeper in our faith. As we collectively agreed to grow, I expected this to be an individual experience that would make a difference in the whole of the church body. However, the deeper growth is also becoming evident in the Actions to which God has called us.
We had our first day of helping at MTI two weeks ago. One of the first things new volunteers are required to do is go through is an experiential exhibit, illustrating the living conditions of those around the world that MTI helps. As we walked through the exhibit, we became quieter and more reflective. To stand before an exhibit that showed a 25-foot wave and read that the waves were 90 feet high in the Tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and that the earthquake shook their world for 30 minutes was hard to even comprehend. Moving further into the exhibit and seeing the shanties where families of 6-10 live on $2 a day was convicting. But, by far, the exhibit that hit me the hardest was the one displaying the children who suffered severe burns from the stoves that are used within these shanties to cook and heat the house. The medical care the kids were getting was to be bandaged and then lie on old, sometimes rusty screens so that their wounds could ooze through the screen and drip onto the floor. I looked at the photos of the babies in these exhibits and it was hard not to see my own grandchildren looking back at me.
“Who’s going to sleep tonight?” was a question a fellow volunteer asked me as we left the exhibit. Even now, the tears come to my eyes when I think of this happening in the world somewhere far away. This would never have touched my life had we not answered the call of God to make a difference with our faith.
Then, on Sunday, we heard from Rebecca Bloomfield, the executive director of Saint Child, about the problem of human trafficking. We have come to understand, through our helping at Saint Child over the last year, that at least 85% of the young women who live at Saint Child have come out of human trafficking. Yet, on Sunday, hearing Rebecca share about the problem and crime of human trafficking brought a reality of this problem to me in a way that I would have never experienced had I not been called to make a difference through taking action in my faith.
Growing deeper in our faith has become so much more to me than preparing sermons on Sunday to encourage momentum of individual growth. Of course, that is important. But, God has a way of expanding his call to become something tangible, something we can touch and feel and experience.
I have personally experienced a call over the past year to simple obedience, with God showing me a picture of myself kneeling before the cross with my head on the floor. He has let me know that in this stance He can lead His church where he wants it to go. Our simple, wide-eyed choice to become involved in our community is now being expanded into deeper, more meaningful experiences that not only make a difference in the world we serve, but in each one of our lives through a deeper growth of faith.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48b (NIV)