Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reasons to Rejoice!

I was sitting here thinking of my father a few minutes ago when the thoughts made me smile. Dad is a hard man, fiercely to the right of almost everybody in the church (I remember him taking Ira Rice Jr. to task for being too loose on a couple of points!), but he lives what he believes. You will never be able to call him a hypocrite. At this moment --pray for him -- this 75 year old man is in Guyana doing mission work. I've tried to contact him but failed. He thinks he'll be back Stateside in a couple more weeks. While he and I might not agree on some things, I admire the force of his faith. I know that he will continue to give his time, life and health to the gospel. When he returns, he will not have luggage; he will have given away all his clothes, books, and toiletries.

He lives on Social Security and a tiny check from a tiny church (30 or 40 people, I believe) but he supports Guyanan ministers and orphans everywhere. He lives very, very simply along with my saintly mother and youngest sister (a Guyanan orphan they adopted).

I knew my path would be different from my father's but I always admired him and still do. When I think of that old fellow in the jungles I cannot help but smile and shake my head. Go get 'em, dad.

There is a report on my desk from the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Inc. out of Nashville, TN. In 2005 alone they gave (in goods and materials, not counting volunteers and their man-hours) ---

Mississippi $4.85 million (hurricane)
New York $80,000 (flood)
Ohio $78,000 (flood)
Tennessee $145,000 (hurricane and tornado)
Texas $1.7 million (hurricane)
Wyoming $75,000 (tornado)
Vermont $95,000 (flood)
Alabama $1 million (hurricane)
California $1000 (forest fires)
Florida $1.42 million (hurricane)
Georgia $115,000 (flood)
Indiana $486,000 (tornado)
Kentucky $70,000 (tornado)
Louisiana $6 million (Katrina, Rita)

Outstanding! Awesome! Excuse me if I am somewhat proud of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We might fight over this or that and our blogs might catch on fire from time to time, but when people are in need we step up like no one else... and we do it quietly. While the numbers above are impressive (and I rounded them. The official report has them to the penny) they are only a fraction of what the churches of Christ gave for most giving was not done through this agency. And how do you count the thousands of volunteers we have sent into the region? In one area of Mississippi no trucks where being allowed in except for National Guard and FEMA vehicles... and ours. We had already built such a reputation among the rescuers that they waved us through the barricades as soon as they saw the cardboard signs on our dashboard: Church of Christ. Cool!

Bashing your brethren, sneering at the older or younger generation, and attacking "names" has always been seen as a risky, but cheap, way to elevate oneself. Yet, in our brotherhood, at the same time that some publish diatribes attacking the motivations of this or that person; at the same time seminary students launch arrogant missives and blogs at anything in range, and at the same time older ministers bemoan the hopelessness of those same students.... we continue to shine God's light. He has continued to bless us and use us for His good.

My son might one day write a blog about me. I can almost see it now. "Dad and I don't agree on very much, and I think he's crazy to still be out there, but pray for him. He's out there somewhere still doing what he's always done...."

Yea, we might be crazy, but we are Christ's and he loves us. And that is reason to rejoice.

11 Comments:

At 1/31/2006 10:31:00 AM , Blogger DJG said...

Amen!

I do support Disaster Relief Fund. And when I was at the coast of Mississippi and saw the organized supplies that they sent by the TRAILERLOAD I was even more convinced of their goodness.

It is good to rejoice in a time when questions plague my heart to remember folks are good, just sometimes complacent.

 
At 1/31/2006 03:24:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

The Disaster Relief Fund may just be one the best things our fellowship has going. Thanks for paying honor to whom honor is due!


DU

 
At 1/31/2006 07:09:00 PM , Blogger That Girl said...

My daddy loves me and my Father loves me even more!

I better show them both how much I appreciate the love!

 
At 1/31/2006 07:51:00 PM , Blogger Jesse said...

Woooo! You made an awesome point! Go team Church of Christ's! The thing is, I didn't realize that we did that much good. That is pure awesome.

 
At 2/01/2006 03:03:00 AM , Anonymous iprayican said...

Actually, that's just one relief organization organized by the churches of Christ, not that we should boast in anything ourselves, we are just giving away the gifts we got from Him. It is all to the Glory of God!

 
At 2/01/2006 10:06:00 AM , Blogger Scott Gampp said...

Your father made a lasting impression on me. He was our minister during my pre-teen years in southern Ohio. I remember him as hard, stern and LOUD! He had an exuberating laugh and enthusiasm for God that just wouldn't stop.
Your mother's beautiful smile and engaging laughter are etched into my childhood memories.
One fall evening they were visiting at our home. All of the kids had raked a big pile of leaves beside the shed out back. I thought your mother would faint when Richard jumped off the shed roof into that pile of leaves!
A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to go with him to a revival meeting. We traveled two hours into the heartland of Kentucky, up a dirt lane that lead to an old barn that was converted into a meeting place. There was Bill and Kitty, preaching that Word, lifting hearts and spirits.
Fond memories of a Godly family.

 
At 2/01/2006 10:58:00 AM , Blogger Cheetah, the cheetah said...

Except for the "in Guyana" part, that first paragraph could have been written of my own father. I have always always respected how deeply he "contends for the faith" as he would put it.

Thanks for sharing what the Disaster Relief Fund has done. I had no idea and I am SO PROUD the people in the churches of Christ are my people!

 
At 2/01/2006 11:56:00 AM , Blogger KentF said...

Amen to the DRF - and their presentations are excellent as well! Can you do the work of Jesus, but have very little reflection of Jesus in your work and walk? I'm sorry I think you can. I know some people that have done good things for the kingdom, and generally made others around them fairly miserable all along the way. No reflection about anyone in particular here, just general observations. Conversely, I know people that have not done huge kingdom things, but have brought a smile and warmth to everyone they have touched along their fairly mundane journey.

 
At 2/01/2006 01:06:00 PM , Blogger Bill said...

As a coast resident in Gulfprt, I have been the beneficiary of some of these gifts. I have watched many people who have lost so much, cry tears of joy as we loaded their car with supplies or delievered them to their FEMA trailer. The sad truth, is we are just beginning to recover. There is so much work to be done. So many people still living in tents and trailers, while fighting with insurance companies to help them. The government has been a help here, but the church has far outshined them in both their generosity and their continued efforts. Thanks family!

bill

 
At 2/02/2006 12:44:00 AM , Blogger Joel Maners said...

Thanks for sharing about your Dad. Mission work brings us ALL together.

 
At 2/02/2006 12:30:00 PM , Blogger Lee Hodges said...

My brother preaches on the Gulf Coast and their congregation alone received over 200,000.00 in cash donations. I am sure they are not alone. DRF is for sure only one way in which the church helped those in need.

Thanks for sharing this.

 

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