Making a Difference
This past week I saw a program on MN Public TV where they simply allowed people to tell their stories. One story in particular, caught my attention and cut me to the quick. It was a mother in the Twin Cities talking about her son who had been recruited by ISIS. "He had always been a good boy who wanted to make a difference in the world," she said. By the time he realized what the ISIS agenda entailed, he was sent to Syria and died on the battlefield...for the "wrong side."
Too often our society (and sometimes even our congregations) do a grave disservice to our young people by assuming that "they" don't care about the world. What young people care about - and passionately so - is making a difference in the world. Isn't that what we as Christ-followers are called to do? Isn't that the mission of every congregation no matter the context they are located in?
I wonder. How is it that this mother's son did not know that there are believers in God who individually and collectively i.e. congregations, synods/conferences and for us, as the ELCA, can and do make a difference in the world? Through lives of compassionate service and caring for one another as well as caring for "the other", we bring good news of hope, we build relationships, we share our resources to provide housing, clean water, quilts, food and education to those in need. Is that word getting out? Are we sharing this news with our congregations and communities of the wonderful work we accomplish by working together?
Every community is touched by stories similar to that grieving mother's. We are called to listen to their stories and to care for them. Those wanting to make a difference in the world are not all drawn in by terrorist recruiters. But some are lured in by sex traffickers, drug dealers, making poor choices because they have not heard or experienced that God loves them. They have not witnessed first hand the Body of Christ in action - or perhaps they have but no one has helped them understand who Jesus is and why he matters and why we are church together for the sake of the world. Sometimes they have been hurt by the very church that is called to nurture them in faith. May we truly be the Body of Christ that reaches out to all people in love.
Please take the time to read through the synopsis of the 2016 Synod Assembly on the website to learn more about these wonderful stories and the amazing ways in which your congregation (and you!) are working to make a difference in the world...and then, please share that good news with someone!
Brenda Tibbetts, AiM
Assistant to the Bishop