Unexpected Service—Serving the Homeless (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, December 19, 2014

you are not alone

Unexpected Service—Serving the Homeless (Feature Friday!)

Posted outside of the church I attended, some years ago, was a sign by a small tree covered in blue ribbons: “While celebrating One homeless Family, these ribbons ask us to remember the homeless with us today.” I had never thought about the Holy Family in that way before.

Some people in the 21st century probably are so accustomed to the Christmas story that their idea of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night is somehow associated with Christmas cards. But it was life as usual for these working people. An everyday way of life in Palestine. What’s more, being a shepherd was not a particularly high class job. The lowly vocation of shepherd was on the outskirts of society. A possible comparison today is to think of a person selling “Streetwise,” the news sheet sold for $2.00 outside of grocery stores and coffee shops here around the Chicago area.

And suddenly, the angel of the Lord came to these shepherds—came to people in homeless shelters, people selling “Streetwise,” people down on their luck, people on the edge, on the outs of society. The angel of the Lord came to them with good news. Good news. With news of God’s birth announcement. We can see God again breaking through, in an unexpected way, to an unexpected group of people.

Are some of these people the “underclass?” Are these people undesirables? Untouchables? Not to God. And, not to the Night Ministry, either.

As their website says, “The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based organization that works to provide housing, health care and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness. With an open heart and an open mind, we accept people as they are and work to address their immediate physical, emotional and social needs while affirming their sense of humanity.”

The Night Ministry served over 138,000 individuals last year, including more than 12,000 young people (aged 14 to 21) who were homeless. Trying to live—to survive in Chicago on their own, without any family or guardian. The Night Ministry works to reach these teens, as well as adults and new moms who have nowhere else to go.

This vital ministry works in Chicago neighborhoods to build relationships and provide immediate, practical resources. They have a new Health Outreach Bus (replacing the old bus that had clocked over 90,000 miles), offering medical exams, treatment and HIV testing, as well as coffee, conversation and a sense of community. The Youth Outreach teams reach out to homeless and LGBT youth in the Lakeview neighborhood to offer non-judgmental support, guidance, food and self-care supplies.

So—especially during the holidays, at that time of the year when the thoughts of many turn to family and friends, this is an especially difficult time of the year. Think of these homeless people, far from family or friends. Send thoughts and prayers to them. Just as you think of that homeless (Holy) Family, two thousand years ago. I know God blessed that homeless (Holy) Family, as I pray God blesses the homeless in my own hometown, tonight.

@chaplaineliza

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Come and See—See Where I Can Help

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 20, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

Another day, another conference. Just before noon today, I went from the National Assembly of the Federation of Christian Minstries to the New Wilmington Mission Conference. A mission conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I’ve attended NWMC for a number of years—always before with at least one of my children in tow. Not this year. But, it’s great to see what is going on in outreach and misson, all around the world.

I especially wanted to see the mission fair on Sunday afternoon, where many different mission and outreach agencies (local, regional and international) come to share their message. Their story. Come and see. Come and see what these different outreaches are doing. How they are touching lives. What a difference they are making. Come and see.

Then, in evening meeting at the outdoor auditorium, I heard the call again. Come and see. The speaker for the evening (Rev. John McCall) gave an excellent message with some heart-touching illustrations from his time in Taiwan. As he repeated, come and see.

I take this to mean, “Come and see where I can serve. Where I can help. Where I can be kind.”

I may not be able to go to another area of the country, or overseas, to serve any time soon. But I can certainly go to where people are hurting, or lonely, or anxious. I can carry the good news of God to people in need. Or, to someone who is homebound and lonely. Or, to those who are anxious, and in need of prayer. In need of someone to come alongside of them, to journey with them. If I come and see where the needs are, then I can go out and serve. Help. Be kind.

As my friend Stuart mentioned to me over dinner tonight, he and several others from his church helped some refugees from the Middle East move into an apartment recently. He saw where the needs were, and he responded. He helped. He was kind to a family he didn’t even know. And this family has opened their hearts and their doors to my friend and the other couple from their church. The family from the Middle East considers these Americans to be part of their extended family now. Because my friend saw this family’s need for some used furniture and kitchen supplies, and helped them move into an apartment, this refugee family is now so grateful and thankful. They feel welcomed and encouraged. Such a small thing, and yet how needed.

Come and see where the needs are? Go and serve.

@chaplaineliza

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Example of Kindness and Caring

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 13, 2014

BK definition of kindness

Example of Kindness and Caring

Sometimes, people follow those who are good examples. Those whose lives exemplify some trait or quality they would like to have. Or, have more of.

When I was young (I’m talking grade school here), I attended a Lutheran church on the northwest side of Chicago. The church was about seven blocks from my house. I would willingly walk both ways, to and from the church. But occasionally—especially in inclement weather—I would appreciate a ride home after morning service. Mrs. Pabst would take me home. She was the parish visitor, a volunteer position in the church, but one that many of the members and friends appreciated so much. She would visit the homebound parishioners, those who were hospitalized, and those in retirement and rehab centers.

Mrs. Pabst was an active senior, a widow who lived just a few blocks from my house. She and my mother had been acquainted for some years, and my mother thought Mrs. Pabst was a very kind, very caring individual. Mrs. Pabst also talked kindly to me, on occasion.

I vividly remember this situation. I must have been about eleven. Going to church on my own, as I usually did. It was the winter, because people were all bundled up. I remember being shy and hesitant to say that I had done something. (I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it was . . . ) Mrs. Pabst took me home after church that morning and spoke to me in her kindly way. She told me it was all right for me to take pride in my accomplishments. It was okay for me to own up to being responsible for something. Take ownership of, or point to something I had done. In other words, I could blow my own horn! Really, it was the good and honorable thing to do, and even pleasurable for me to do this!

This advice came from one of the kindest and most caring women I had ever known. Instead of being shy and retiring, hesitant to own up to any worthwhile activity or action I did, Mrs. Pabst helped me to see that I could, indeed, proudly let people know that I was the one responsible. It was okay. Even more than okay, sometimes. Just great, in fact!

I happened to think of this very kind lady today, as I remembered the words I used in a recent conversation. I gave myself as an example. I was self-deprecating and apologetic in my conversation with my friend, but I did point to myself. Tell my friend that I try to follow the right, Godly thing to do. Even now, decades after the advice given to me by Mrs. Pabst, I still am somewhat hesitant to blow my own horn. But as the years pass, I am getting more and more self-confidence. I do know that I am a worthwhile person and God’s creation. So are you! You, and I, and every other person made is a much beloved creation of God, and of infinite value to God. This is good news! Correction: this is great news!

@chaplaineliza

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Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 30, 2014

BK wherever there is a human

Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

It’s hard to believe that the month of May is ending. And, another Feature Friday is at hand!

A good friend of mine—Alison—and I InstantMessaged each other several weeks ago. She had some good things to say about one of the Year of Being Kind posts, and I thanked her. She and her husband Ivan had been missionaries to Peru for some years, and now they are back in the Chicago area. While in conversation, I asked whether she knew of any ministries outside of the United States that really touched her heart. Her response? “Really good friend of ours, Rich and Elisa Brown founded IncaLink, which is in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.” Alison gave me their email, and I contacted them. Now, we’re connected! And once I found out about their work, I was really touched and impressed, too!

This multi-faceted ministry called IncaLink is not only a caring, helping hand offered to many of the poorest of the poor, it’s also a ministry for the 21st century. Using the tools of social media, Rich Brown (one of the founders) and others who work with him get the important, sharing, caring message of IncaLink out through YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter. IncaLink’s work also pulls at heartstrings, because much of their ministry involves bettering the lives of women, children, and families.

Rich sent me all kinds of information to start with. More than a dozen avenues of ministry, in three different countries. But I’d like to zero in on one particular ministry, one of the first places where IncaLink concentrated their efforts: a dump some distance north of Lima, in the outskirts of Trujillo, Peru. Some of the poorest of the poor live on the premises of the dump. They eat, sleep and work at the dump, and this place encompasses their whole lives.

Truly heartrending, the idea of people living, working and dying at the dump brought the three founding members of IncaLink to action in 2006. IncaLink has grown and diversified since, but the ministry at the dump remains a foundation for their work. They not only share the love of God with these loving people at the dump—God’s children, no matter where they may be found—but one of their specific ministries is to the children and youth at the dump. They provide a way out, getting the children out of the dump and into school and into jobs and workplaces to better the lives of them and their families. But perhaps most important? IncaLink offers them and their families the good news of the love of God.

Not only do full-time missionaries work with the good people in the dump (and in the other areas IncaLink serves), but they also have short-term teams and individuals who work in special projects and specific areas. What a wonderful way to get immersed in a culture and a worldview that can change your life. Literally.

For further information, check out this video about the dump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3O-jh81kDI&list=PL67F8C2BC59CCE665  (And, want to contact IncaLink? www.incalink.org )

@chaplaineliza

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Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 23, 2014

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo  (photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo
(photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)

 

Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

My friend Dan? Great guy! My friend Dan? Generous, kind, ready to be of service. My friend Dan? Always ready to lend a hand or lend an ear.

And—my friend Dan? Associate Director of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship for the Midwest United States. Pretty long title for a heckuva guy. He fills the shoes of that big title, to be sure. He started out studying to be in the diplomatic service in school. He was fascinated by this subject, for years. (Even as a child, he remembers.) But his life took a different turn, and he started his career in the business world. Until—God brought Dan to a realization: “similar to the apostle Matthew, in that, hearing the Good News, I got up from my agricultural trading desk . . . and decided to follow Jesus wherever He may lead me. The ride has been incredible ever since.”

Doing cross-cultural work immediately upon going to Costa Rica, Dan fell in love with mission work. Long story short, he attended seminary, became ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and started working as an associate pastor in the Chicago suburbs. With a focus on mission in his life and ministry, he helped people from this area experience cross-cultural missions.

After accepting a position with Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship in 1996, he has since been focused on helping connect people. Connecting people from the Midwest area of the United States with small groups of believers and newly-planted churches—in frontier areas, all around the world. These are small groups looking for a connection! And Dan is a marvelous connector. A diplomat for God. On behalf of the Gospel, he introduces fellow believers in Christ from halfway around the world to each other. For support, for friendship, for fellowship.

One area where Dan finds open doors is in making bridges. For a number of years, he has been leading trips to Egypt (supporting the Presbytery of Egypt). He has grown, too, in his support for Christian communities within the Arabic-speaking world. But through this work in the Middle East, he also has been drawn to building bridges to Islam and to Muslims in the Chicago area. Dan says, “In fact, I have recently started an Islam study group for the northern suburbs of Chicago. . . . I care deeply that the Muslim world gain access to the Good News of Jesus Christ through these kinds of dialogues and relationships.”

What a reconciling work, what an opportunity for service. Overcoming fears, anxieties, and separation in a number of areas. Building bridges. Being a diplomat for God. Yes, that’s my friend Dan!

@chaplaineliza

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Serving, Being Kind—Near or Far! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 8, 2014

make a dfference in someone's life www.sakks.org

Serving, Being Kind—Near or Far!

Faraway places! Exotic locales! Gosh, you might think I was talking about a South Sea island, or Darkest Africa, or a way station on the Silk Road. Frankly, I was thinking about London. Faraway? If we’re talking from Chicago, yes! Exotic? In terms of the cross-section of cultures, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and just about any other difference or variety anyone can think of? Yup.

London City Mission is positioned right in the heart of that urban, cross-section of cultures, reaching out in the name of Christ, yes! However, they reach out with “a cup of cold water,” too, especially in LCM’s ministry to the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, the immigrant population. Working with people from all over London? Yes, community outreach and prison ministry, too. Coming from places not many people are aware of, these dear, beloved, invisible individuals are exactly that: dear and beloved in God’s eyes, as well as in the eyes of the London City Mission.

The Director of London City Mission is now a “follower” of mine on Twitter! Me? I’ve “followed” Graham for several months on Twitter, so I “followed” first. For whatever that’s worth. <grin> I honestly appreciate what Graham (@WindyLondon) and LCM are trying to do. Each one is striving to live out the Great Commission, as well as living out social justice, in a variety of ways and methods. I’ve been reading about some vignettes in LCM’s quarterly magazine. (And a well-put-together magazine it is, too! I have some idea of what I speak, since my husband is a senior editor for a trade magazine.)

A specific niche in ministry at London City Mission, and one that resonates with me deeply, is chaplaincy. Some chaplains work at (for?) LCM. Transport? Busses? Yes, there are chaplains for fast-moving London. Other chaplains cover emergency services. Not only for the good people in trauma, grief and distress, but also the emergency responders. Doctors, nurses, police offiers, emergency workers. And then, there is ‘regular’ hospital chaplaincy. The LCM covers that, too.

I read in one of Graham’s blog posts (from Feb 28, 2014) that “we show Christian love, we share Christian hope, and we do so without conditions. We have a message of Good News and hope that the whole world needs to hear. Good News of sins forgiven, of grace to the undeserving, of love for the unlovely, freedom for the prisoner, hope of a new beginning for the addict.”

Sometimes, I have the sneaking wish I could jump in to ministry with LCM, using the faithful training in chaplaincy, recovery counseling, pastoral care—and preaching!—I received here in the Chicago area. Whatever, wherever God wants me to be of service, I pray that I may listen and respond. I pray for the same listening, responding hearts for my readers, too. God willing!

@chaplaineliza

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