What is right with the Church?
I’ve cancelled my television service. I’m tired of being asked to buy the latest pharmaceutical product while being interrupted from the seemingly unending news feed of fear and scarcity. I suspect I’m not the only one worn out and hungry for some Good News.
Spending less time in front of the television has given me the chance to read up on some exciting stories about people who are going the extra mile to help their neighbors in need during these tough economic times. I’m learning about folks from all over the world, who without fanfare or celebrity recognition, are dwelling on and acting on God’s abundance by finding ways to demonstrate God’s Kingdom right here on earth. They are taking serious Jesus’s teachings found in Matthew 25:34-40!
That’s why I’m so excited about our new Faith Builders program and the innovations we are making to encourage and support congregations by commissioning them to go out into their own neighborhoods to repair and renovate homes.
Sitting at the Café Campesino coffee shop, Rev. Allan Purtill asked David, Ryan and me an interesting question, “Does a church have to work through a Fuller Center Covenant Partner organization to do Greater Blessing repairs?” We said if there is a local Covenant Partner, we want churches to partner with them, but if there is no Fuller Center organization, we couldn’t think of any good reason they couldn’t be out there helping their neighbors, shut-ins and elderly homeowners. Allan’s simple question was the catalyst for a mission program adjustment. Through our Faith Builders program we will now encourage and commission church teams, providing them basic technical support to take on small repair projects, building wheel chair ramps, fixing leaky roofs and rescuing homes for homeowners who are unable to afford to make the repairs.
It is our hope and prayer that these projects will rapidly expand the footprint and awareness of The Fuller Center and that the efforts started in one church will inspire other churches to get involved and thus become the catalyst for launching an ecumenical Fuller Center Covenant Partner.
Sharon Waltner, moderator of Mennonite Church USA spoke about the Church in uncertain and challenging times. “As a church—we have unparalleled opportunities for God’s healing and hope to flow through us into the world.”
Indeed, we have many things to celebrate, even in hard economic times. No matter how bad the recession gets, we know that God cannot go bankrupt. According to Rev. Waltner, celebrating God’s abundance and what is right about the Church "can empower us and unleash our energy and creativity."
We celebrate the ecumenical and economic diversity we see when a congregation embraces what Millard Fuller called "The Theology of the Hammer." Churches may disagree on all kinds of issues like baptism, ordinations and communion, but they are willing and eager to partner with each other to build and repair homes for neighbors in need.
It is with urgency and exuberance that we are putting out the call for your church to join with us and do service projects locally and through our domestic and international Global Builders program. We have seen how such mission efforts can create vibrancy for church members who can tell the story about what good they are doing.
For almost a dozen years, I had the pleasure of hosting a work team from the Middleburg Heights United Church of Christ near Cleveland, Ohio. Under the leadership of George and Sandy Uhl, their intergenerational church family “vacationed” together doing service projects in Appalachia. The skilled members took pride in teaching the unskilled and many young students were inspired to take career paths that would lead to community service and ministry.
We were also privileged to see our local Cornerstone Church here in Americus sign up for Faith In Action-Be the Church. Rev. Derek Vreeland is giving a series of sermons on service and then on Sunday, October 25th their church doors will be locked as the entire congregation will be working on Fuller Center projects. One of the recipients of their efforts is Julia Tyner and her three sons.
Several years ago, Julia Tyner and her husband purchased a fixer-upper in Americus, Ga., with dreams of the house becoming a nice place for them and their three sons. Unfortunately, Julia’s husband left before any work was done on the house. Suddenly a single mother with minimal income, Julia found it impossible to acquire a loan for home improvements. During the winter, Julia and her sons, ages 15, 12 and 10, slept together in one bedroom to stay warm because their drafty house was too expensive to heat.
Julia takes classes at a local college and is working toward a degree in business administration, which she hopes to put to use helping other families pull themselves out of poverty and into homeownership. Julia is also training to adopt a local foster-care child who she says gets along with her sons and is in desperate need of a positive environment. As Julia extends a mother’s love to a child currently without it, the local Fuller Center covenant partner is doing about $10,000 – $15,000 worth of renovations to fix the roof, ceiling and windows and to install insulation as part of the Greater Blessing program. Julia will repay the no-interest loan with a monthly donation to The Fuller Center. The amount will be worked out based on her available income and will go toward helping another family have safe housing.
How many families like Julia’s live in your community?
Is there anything holding you back from sharing with those in need what is right with the Church?
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