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.