The Edmonton Journal published this a month or so ago...interesting that they changed the title to "Universal Generosity Holds Couple in Its Embrace"
*******Christians get a lot of bad press.
What mainstream media seldom reports, however, is that in times of crisis God's primary means of bringing aid is through the Body of Christ followers that comprise the church.
Onward Christian Soldiers type of people, working through organizations like World Vision, the Salvation Army and Samaritan's Purse are generally among the first to provide assistance in times and areas enduring major upheaval. They also stay the longest and offer the most concrete aid -- witness the most recent natural disasters, including Haiti's recent earthquake.
But it isn't only the big para-church organizations that mobilize the troops so efficiently through which God works. God uses more often the steady sweep of compassion, the unexpected individual kindnesses that flow inexorably outward from hearts brimming with Christ-like care for ordinary people enduring personal crises. God's church can and often does bring those people a tsunami of blessing. It's a wave that gently covers unprepared victims of circumstances, bracing and equipping them on life's most difficult journeys through loss of many kinds.
I should know. My husband, Rick, and I have experienced that blessed tsunami.
By the time blood tests determined that a mosquito was to blame for my husband's bizarre illness, he was paralyzed in both legs and his left arm. Struggling to remember his name. Calling me George.
When West Nile first struck in mid-August of 2007, Rick was the pastor of a small church. Its children painted pictures for his hospital-room walls. Its members and friends, often at great inconvenience, provided for and loved us in myriad ways. Though he was not able to return to that pulpit, several members continued to do so and do to this day, two and a half years later.
But Jesus founded a far broader church, with no doors and no walls. Its membership list includes Christ followers "of many stripes and tribes" around our community, province, country and world.
Those church members also sent flowers and gifts to help and cheer us. They extended encouragement to bolster us, knitted prayer shawls to warm us, provided food to nourish us. They wrote cards, e-mails and letters to remind us of God's healing power. Made countless phone calls to tell us they hadn't forgotten us. Sat and cried with us, held our hands, prayed with us and eventually helped us move -- two times.
Members of Christ's universal church, even from within their own crises, losses that make ours pale in comparison -- reached out to encourage us. Many skipped meals to pray for us instead. Drove for hours to visit us at the hospital and rehab centre. Helped with transportation when I was too distracted to drive. And planned a fundraising event so that others in our city who wished to help could do so.
That church includes Christ followers we know only barely, some not at all. Strangers reaching out in Jesus' name. The hospital receptionist who sent her prayers in a card. The elderly couple who tucked a well-worn (and crucial for their own needs) $5 bill into an envelope and sent it our way. The mere acquaintance who reached deeply into her own resources to share them with us, because she felt God nudge her.
In the midst of the maelstrom that the mosquito manufactured, and in its ongoing two-year aftermath, Rick and I have learned something we previously knew primarily from the other end: As Christians, we make an immense difference in the lives of people in crisis when we don't shun the small things we can do, because of the large things we can't.
What does that mean? It means we don't refuse to send a quick note or e-mail because we don't have time to write a long letter. It means we don't neglect sharing a wide smile just because we have nothing else to offer. Or forget about popping in for five minutes because we're too rushed to spend an hour.
It means we pick up the phone to say "I'm sorry you hurt," even though we don't know what else to say.
Christians who impact others most -- and they are many -- are those people: the ones who, when faced with need, do the wee (and big!) things God prompts even when they think they'll be barely noticed.
Folks like that don't make the news very often. And that's too bad ... because it happens so very often. And because that's the kind of genuinely newsworthy stuff for which our founder said we should be known.
Read the above online at the Edmonton Journal.
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