The Intersection of Faith and Action

I remember the night like it was yesterday.  Val and I had just started dating.  We were both in high school.  I drove her around in my mother’s green Mazda.  It was winter, bitterly cold, and we were stuck.

The area around our home town consisted of a railroad track that twisted and turned through the suburbs.  An urban legend existed of a park by the tracks that you did not want to visit at night.  Of course, I took us right through it. The road was snow-covered, sandwiched between the railroad tracks and a small creek.  The exit was a choice between a flat road and a steep incline. I took the incline as the car slid to the shoulder and stopped.

I tried spinning the tires, steering back and forth, anything I could do.  It wouldn’t move.  I called my dad and he said he would make his way over with a shovel to dig us out.  I rolled down the window and a dog started barking hysterically from somewhere in the distance.

Val and I looked at each other and prayed.

A minute later, headlights approached. A group of snowmobiles parked behind us.  I exited the car and one of the guys asked me if we were stuck.  I said yes. Three of them pushed the car back to the road.  They never removed their helmets or visors, returned to their snowmobiles, and drove away.

I turned the car around and started back the way we came. We stopped to get our bearings and I stepped out of the car again. There were no tracks on the ground, no sign of a snowmobile.  Two minutes before, I had watched them take that road to leave us.

The snow was fresh and untouched.

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Photo Credit: hodge via Compfight cc

I’ve spent the last eight months interviewing local charities, businesses, and community members, gathering story after story of God’s involvement in the lives around us.

When we seek, we will find.

In the whir of our lives, it is too easy to get caught up in the process. Kids, bills, jobs, starting a business, writing a book, keeping up a website, getting in shape. We tend to miss chances to make a difference.

I prayed, eight months ago, that my words would make a difference. I’d give the writing to God and tell the story that needed to be told.  I’d give voice to those on the front lines of the battle against poverty.  I’d work with faith-based businesses and charities.

My next e-book, coming out in April, will be about reclaiming Christian Arts and producing creations that have deep impact in the world. I have an article upcoming in RELEVANT magazine and will be starting work as a volunteer journalist for BCTV, a local nonprofit covering the Reading and Berks County area. We’re preparing a powerful series of stories on poverty and the efforts happening to reclaim the soul of the city.

Things happen when we decide to serve, when we give our talents back to the God, the Creator who gifted them in the first place. Now is the time to make your move, consider what you can give and ask how you can serve.

The intersection between faith and action is waiting for your arrival.

~Matt

Feel Good Saturday-11/22/2014

At the end of a long week, I thought it would be nice to add a positive note on things by hijacking a Feel Good Friday post and moving it to Saturday:

Jason Brown  was a center for the St. Louis Rams. Brown decided to leave football behind to chase something he had never done before.  He used his contract money to purchase a thousand acres of land and start a farm.

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Brown is self-taught, relying on local sources and internet research.  His first crop yielded over 100,000 lbs of sweet potatoes, which he donated to the needy in the St. Louis area.  He intends to continue this practice with each crop that he grows. He said this effort was inspired by his faith and a calling to live a life of service.

Imagine, spending your life preparing for a career in professional sports.  You make it, sign the big contract, and walk away to answer a higher calling.  Could you walk away from $37 million dollars? How about to start something you’ve never done? Brown is a hero and his food will made a huge difference for his neighbors dealing with hunger.

“My agent told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,’” Brown told CBS. “And I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No I’m not. No I’m not.’”

This time of year, remember to be thankful for what you have and to do what you can for those who have less. It doesn’t take a farm to make a difference.  You can do it on your block and in your city. Never forget what is important.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21

 

Soundtrack inspiration:

The House on Fire

Today I spent almost two hours at the Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center in the city of Reading.  Mercy is located directly across from the main branch of the Reading library system.  I’ve been in the library many times and never noticed the buildings across the street. They are set of old row homes and one of them is the entrance of Mercy.  I met with Sherry, the executive director, and had an amazing experience.

The building was the former residence of a doctor and has a place on the registry of historic homes. She took me on a tour of the floors, meeting rooms, and supply areas.  Mercy handles 1200 client visits a year and takes in no outside funding. They provide classes on life skills and parenting, clothes, supplies, and pregnancy tests. All of this with two full-time employees, a staff of volunteers, and money from donors.

Their focus is on helping the entire person, whether a young lady expecting her first child or a single father not knowing what to do. They present the Gospel, and a listening ear and their referrals are all by word of mouth.  They have generations of family members using their services to help get a solid foundation.  Sherry and her staff care for their clients like family.

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As I was sitting in the waiting room speaking with her, I felt an impression clear as day.  This is what I am supposed to be doing. These are stories I need to tell. These are people I need to help.  I’m not overly sensitive to the Spirit but, it was a Field of Dreams moment, the voice saying “if you write it, they will come.”

“I tell my volunteers, we are all comfortable with the front door gospel,” Sherry said, “Here we are the house on fire. We need to be like firemen, able to go through the basement windows and claw through the smoke and help put out the flames.”

As you go through this week, try to find the fires around you. They can be friends or family, coworkers or neighbors. When you move to serve, great things can happen.

~Matt