At Home with Suffering

At Home with suffering-lonely,struggles,overwhelming,tears,burden,losing hope,carrying cross

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…” Philippians 1:29

Two weeks ago was devastating for my friend. She had lost her wallet and all her credit cards. The weight of the world was on her shoulders as she dealt with the police and made the calls to cancel her life and identity.

With her feet kicked out from under her, the rest of the world took on the form of a growing burden that overwhelmed her.

Fortunately, she had taught her son about Jesus and the truth he gives us. That son confronted her, told her to smarten up and deal with her attitude of getting stuck in an attitude that refused to change and acknowledge God’s control in all she had been through.

My friend had been born in a Christian home and gone to Christian schools in Pakistan. She had been taught the Bible from her earliest days. She was thoroughly marinated in Christianity but sitting across from me she declares “it was not enough.” She knew that life wasn’t meant to be a bed of roses and things have been hard. She knew it didn’t take faith to love God and follow him if the road was smooth. Now she declared again to me. “Every person needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and they need to keep walking in that commitment. It’s not enough to say a prayer or live on what you’re taught.”

My friend had always been in control of things. She was confident in her work with children. She was used to being independent. She was taught to be sure as a leader so children could look to her for their strength.

Now she felt helpless.

Previously, she had looked down on others who acted helpless. She didn’t understand the attitude. Now, in her own moment of emotional paralysis over a lost wallet, she began to empathize. She changed from within.

Every morning my friend takes out the Daily Bread and reads. Every morning it says exactly what she needs for that day. On this day it says the glory of life is to love – not so you are loved, to give – not so you get, to save – not so you are saved. This reading and all the ones before this rekindle hope to face another day in personal weakness and godly strength.

My friend says that “faith and life, if they’re smooth, are not functional and they’re not real.” She says “the closer I want to get to God the greater the challenges – the more challenges now the more blessed I feel.”

She know God is in control. She provides an insight when she says “God uses those close to us to probe the areas of our weakness. Because they are close we can’t walk away from them. God loves us and he wants the best for us.”

Her son hit her hard with this statement. “Mom, Jesus gave you a cross to carry. If you’re going to carry it then do it happily.”

What hits you hardest about my friend’s story? Can you relate at all? How do you live your life like Jesus is living in you? Do you think others who see you living are convinced that you serve a risen Savior who is in the world today?

Save the Planet

I watched three young teens race their bikes down an alley and hurl their left over snack packs onto the ground as they sped away. Plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, chicken-bone wings, fries, paper napkins, half-used plastic cups with dipping sauce – abandoned. Things like that aren’t hard to clean up despite the negligence of these boys.

Our oceans are another matter. 80,000 tonnes of floating plastic has been photographed swirling around the Pacific – making up a mass larger than France, German and Spain. And it likely isn’t only our youth contributing to this mess which now drifts in five large masses – one stretching to 1.6 million square kilometres.

Youth may be part of our hope as they become passionately engaged in environmental concerns. An 18-year-old Dutchman named Boyan Slat started a group called Ocean Cleanup several years ago to deal with this catastrophe labeled the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. His organization estimates that eight million (out of the 322 million tonnes produced annually) end up in the oceans every year.

Most of us might ignore this out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue until we realize that some of that plastic is being swallowed by the fish we eat. Large tangles of lost fishing net are caught up in this mass, trapping passing sea life like turtles.

Saving the planet is something Christians tend to think is something Jesus did some 2000 years ago. We genuflect to the cross and empty tomb. We say a prayer of gratitude for the eternal life we gained but we don’t necessarily connect that our role may go beyond loving God and loving our neighbour.

Jesus reduced all commands down to the one of loving each other “as I have loved you.” The New Testament is an application and commentary on how we do that. A key piece we may miss is that demonstrating love for you may be demonstrating respect and honour for the place you live and grow – this planet.

As we move into spring and summer the beauty of the world is taking shape all around us with little help from us. What are you doing to keep that beauty from diminishing? What are you doing to help with saving our planet? Yes, the people, but also the place where all these people live.

Volunteers spring the success of our community

vancouver lower mainland blessed neighborhoods people

I  am quite IN AGREEMENT with that statement .It is my passion to help and I am so thankful for this opportunity.

The lower mainland is blessed with mixed neighborhoods and is comprised of people from all walks of life – Somewhat like the United Nations as individuals who have immigrated to Canada for a better life for themselves and their children. Just like the early settlers who came to various regions in the 1600’s, 1700’s and 1800’s because they were looking for a place to live and raise their family.

 

WHY VOLUNTEER?

Volunteering is a Canadian tradition and is an extension of being a good neighbor and there are many reasons why I make time to volunteer.

We have many new immigrants settled in our community, raising their families and experiencing new life in Canada.

It is truly a privilege for me to be able to welcome and help our new neighbours.  

A great way to use my talents and experience acquired through Public service.

We can do this by:

  •  Not letting an opportunity pass by to say a kind word to people we meet.
  • Be genuinely interested in others. The people we meet feel that we regard them as a person of importance.
  • We can keep an open mind on all controversial questions and discuss without arguing. It is possible to disagree and be friendly.
  • Not to be anxious about our rights and having favours repaid. Let the satisfaction of helping others serve as its own reward.
  • It supports the cause I believe in which I stated earlier.
  • Gives me an opportunity to make a contribution to society.
  • As a retired Federal Public servant I know that experience matters and it provides an opportunity to use valuable skills, to give back to the community, to mentor others and it creates and maintains relationship.
  • We can play a vital role in a society and it helps in delivering services and programs that improve and enhance the life of our communities.
  • One can experience learning and satisfaction.
  • I enjoy social interaction – Meeting new people.
  • It gives an opportunity to learn about people, country or community.
  • Gives fulfillment and a sense of empathy, connection with a “cause”
  • It gives an opportunity to be part of the community where I live.
  • It also instills a value of giving and caring.

I ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN TO STAY ACTIVE IN MIND AND BODY, MAKE CONNECTIONS AND CONTINUE TO LEARN.

By:

Vince Prasad

VALUE: Cross-Cultural Servanthood

Our staff are reading an interesting book called Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer. Faith Fellowship heralds three values: Faith, multi-generational and multi-national community, plus servanthood. This book blends the last two values for us.

The way this value looks for us includes the following definition:

Servanthood – This means that, in our ministries and individual lives: we will grow toward

  • Putting the best interests of others ahead of our own
  • Utilizing our gifts, resources and abilities to the benefit of building up the body and the individuals in it
  • Choosing humility, graciousness, gentleness and compassion as our first response to others inside and outside our immediate fellowship

This is far harder than it sounds when reading words on paper. Everything within us seems to fight against acting like Jesus in Philippians 2 where it says he emptied himself and became a bond-servant.

Elmer’s point in his book (p. 17) is that in a cross-cultural situation it is natural for North Americans to act from a point of superiority even without realizing it. He says that our superiority “appears in disguises that pretend to be virtues – virtues such as

  • I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, a corner on truth)
  • My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me do most of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).
  • I am here to help you (so do as I say).
  • I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).
  • Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as “let me make you into a clone of myself).

The author summarizes that “superiority cloaked in the desire to serve is still superiority. It’s not our words that count but the perceptions of the local people who watch our lives and sense our attitudes.”

There is no question then but that servanthood begins from a deep sense of humility as to who I am and a deep sense of respect and honor as to who God has made you to be. Your culture, faith, experience, background, personality and understanding of God as filtered through the Scriptures all are facets of life that I pay attention to.

Our perception of servanthood is filtered through our cultural lens. What we think of as service is easily interpreted as superiority or ignorance by another. This is never so obvious as in the different ways we greet each other and show respect.

Our perception of servanthood is also filtered through our generational lens. We were all raised with what we were told was the “right” way to show respect to others – to those older, to men, to women, to relatives, to strangers, to those in authority, etc.

Being mixed in the soup of multi-culturalism and multi-generationalism can easily leave one feeling like there may no longer be any right way to do much of anything. Servanthood is a value we are still learning. What have you learned about servanthood in your context, culture and circumstances? Bless you as you put Biblical servanthood into practice.

 

Helping or Hurting?

Can you imagine going to a doctor and getting a diagnosis which says you have an infection when in reality you have a brain tumour? One of the families we helped with some grocery gift cards recently faced this experience. How do you help someone who can’t get enough to eat because they have serious physical set backs (the family also has an autistic son, a three year old daughter and other complications which keeps the mom from being able to work much)?

Poverty is a complicated reality because every story of an impoverished person is different. We are designed for relationship with God, with others, with creation and with ourselves but these seem to get fractured as we get caught in the web of poverty. The solution isn’t simply giving material handouts. You can’t buy love at the grocery store.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, in their book Helping Without Hurting, state that “When these relationships [listed above] are functioning in the way God designed them to function, humans experience the fullness of life that God intended: we experience deep communion with a loving God; we understand our inherent dignity and worth as image-bearers; we live in positive, giving relationships with others; and we actively steward God’s creation, both caring for it and being able to work and to support ourselves as  result of that work. Indeed, when these relationships are working properly, the results bubble up in all aspects of our lives: families are nurturing, communities are flourishing, work is meaningful, and we are bringing glory to God in all that we do.”

Perhaps we are more impoverished than we realized. Our own addictive behaviors, our abuse or exploitation at the hands of others, our living under oppressive systems and our vulnerability to demonic forces can leave us emotionally, psychologically, mentally, socially or spiritually weakened.

The need for a vital, caring, prayerful, dignified, compassionate community in our church is vital but it is the need for rich relationships and opportunities which seem to be the best counter to personal poverty in whatever forms it appears. Since the fall, every one of us is broken, hurting or needy in some way.

What do you think? Are there signs of poverty in your own life which show you need community? Are there practices or efforts in our church family which need to be adjusted to truly deal with the poverty in our neighbourhood and in our own fellowship? Be rich to one another.