some of our best dreams have a root in the past
We were church planting years back...dreaming about what could be and should be and wrestling with what was...when a young lady joined our ensemble of believers. Amanda fit the crowd perfectly - early twenties and hungry to figure out what it meant to walk out her faith.
One Sunday about six weeks after she started attending, I greeted her at the bagel table during the break between worship and teaching (I miss that break...) and asked how she'd spent her week. She told me that she'd been giving people blankets and helping them fill out insurance paperwork. It turns out the apartment building near her had suffered a tremendous fire....some apartments were gone, and many, many more were destroyed by water damage, etc. She raced over and started helping with relief work - not as a part of an agency, but as a human being with a heart breaking for these poor young couples who had lost everything. I barely remembered hearing about the fire on the radio as I drove to study my sermon at the coffee shop. ouch.
Amanda's compassion and accompanying action stirred my thoughts. Kelsey and I began to dream about what it would be like for the church to beat the 'authorities' to these sorts of situations and be able to care for people who were victims of disasters - fires, floods, hurricanes, etc. As it turns out, that was not the time for it, but the genesis of the dream lies in Amanda's proactivity.
I think it's time. It's time to revive this idea....time to find a bus. Time to tear out 2/3 of the seats and rig it out with shelves and cabinets. Time to stock it with supplies. Time to gather a team who will take their turn on call. Time to race into the eye of a hurricane.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think this is the most cost effective way to do disaster relief. The most financially responsible thing would be to send a check to a local charity who would administer the funds. I don't want to administer funds. I want to minister funds. I want trained relief workers with a prophetic gifting. I want an emergency bus driver who is trained in praying for healing. I want a team cook who will put down the spatula for a minute because they have a word for the family standing in line...a family who just lost their house and doesn't have a hope in the world. I want a crew of go-anywhere, do-anything crazies who will race into the face of disaster, not out of a hunger for adventure but out of compassionate hearts. Compassion ministry teamed with supernatural, God infused encounters would offer not only momentary relief but a very real and present hope.
My sense of urgency is growing. I believe with all my heart that we are in a much higher risk for terrorist attack between now and the presidential election than we have been in a long time, maybe ever. Spain recently showed the world that you could influence a powerful nation's election and foreign policy with a few well placed, devastating backpack bombs. The list of lunatics who would like to sway the momentum of US public opinion is endless...and the idea of homeland security is more of a concept than reality. We have some of the most porous borders in the world - and I don't know that there's any answer for that which our society would or should accept. As a result, it's a prime time for some of these groups to take a swipe at us.
September 11, 2001 was not a day that changed everything. It was the day that the US realized that everything had changed. We got a taste - a bitter, strong taste - of what much of the world's people live with every day...questions like "If I take the bus home, will it blow up?". Now that there is this universal reality, the American church has got to prepare to respond in a manner that is more powerful than changing the church marque to "God Bless America".
If you've read this far, you're either very kind or I have your attention. Something in you knows this is true...and the church's response is important. What if, on September 12, 2002, CNN had reported that the freeways in NYC were jammed with believers going in to help care for the firemen or comfort the thousands wandering the streets? Yes, I know many groups did go...but far more cowered in fear at events cleverly masked as 'prayer vigils'. All the candle-lighting and patriotic songs in the world were nothing more than personal coping tools. Important, to be sure...but not much in the way of hope for those who suffered.
I need a school bus...or a crew cab pickup and a gooseneck trailer. I need supplies. I need some ideas from people who've done this sort of thing. Kelsey and I feel an urgency to get rolling on this. Waiting for the next storm - man made or otherwise - will not do. If you have a lead on one that someone might be willing to contribute, let me know. A tax receipt can be issued for giving credit, although in most cases, I'm guessing that won't be the big motivator. The real motivation is that we must prepare to act on our faith and compassion at a time when it's most needed.