A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Church is a Sleeping Giant

Last night our church hosted the Children of the World Choir. I can hardly describe in words what a blessing it was for us to have them. Our Family Life Center was filled with church members and people from the community, who received quite a blessing listening to these young voices praising God in song and dance. The children range in age from approximately eight to ten years and they come from countries all over the world. They are children who have experienced some very difficult times in their native land; they travel the United States for ten months at a time, singing and raising money for special mission projects. Last night we took a love offering that will help build children's shelters in Northern Uganda. What is happening there right now is beyond description: children leaving their villages at night, some traveling as far as eight miles on foot, in order to take refuge in cities away from rebel militias forcing them into sex slavery, into murdering their families, and conscripting them into the army.

In some ways it is difficult to imagine how these children can sing such songs of joy and have such happiness in their lives, but such is the transforming way of Christ. Our family hosted two girls, both eight years old, from India, the past couple of nights (pictured). What a blessing they were to us. The house will seem very different this evening without their presence.

As I have been reflecting over the situation in Uganda and Darfur and the many other places in the world, I am convinced more than ever that the church in the United States is a sleeping giant. I know that the church is a force for good in this world and continues to do much good, but how much more could be accomplished, how much additional suffering could be alleviated, how many more children could be rescued from such evil that takes place in the world, if individual Christians would be willing to sacrifice some of their lifestyle in order to give more to such worthy causes? So many churches have such tight budgets, yet in the midst of its seeming financial constraints, the church in America can have access to incredible resources if individual Christians would see their mission in this world as being more important than their own personal way of life.

When Carol and I were first married, we were committed to living a simpler lifestyle because we believed the Gospel required it. Of course, it is rather easy to live simply when one has no money. Over the years, as our income improved, so has our lifestyle. To be sure, we do not live in luxury, at least as compared with others in our country, but neither are we hurting financially. Over the past year, I have been convicted once again of the need to live more simply and divest myself of some material baggage that keeps me from giving more to those who do not have even their basic daily needs.

Of course, I am not recommending that we deprive our children of their necessities and neither am I suggesting that we fail to make investments for their future after we parents are gone. What I am saying is that most of us in the United States, who are followers of Jesus Christ, can do better when it comes to charity. Christians in America continue to be very generous; that does not mean, however, there can be no improvement.

The cost of building a children's shelter in northern Uganda is $29,000. We can hardly build one room in the United States with that amount, let alone an entire building. World Help hopes to build twenty shelters in all. How true it is that churches in America could raise $29,000 times 20 in one day if they put their minds to it and their money toward it; but it will take longer, because the church does not have more because we its members, I am afraid, are often more dedicated to our own comfort than we are to the least, the last, and the lost, whom Jesus commands us to care for.

I do not pretend to have all the answers as to how Christians should simplify their way of life; I do know that we should seek to do so. I do not have the magical blueprint on what to do for all the suffering children of this world; but I do know that the followers of Jesus must do something for those whom he loves.

Last night the children's choir ended by singing, "I am a promise; I am a possibility." Yes, they are, as are all the children of the world. How many children will not get the opportunity to fulfill God's promises and possibilities in their lives because of the situations they are in through no fault of their own?

In United Methodism, it is the custom to open every Annual Conference with the hymn, "And Are We Yet Alive?" That's a good question.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Allan. Good thoughts and challenge. I wish we were more in thought and activity about this. How much more good we surely would do in this world. Hopefully we can really grow in this, as a top priority of those in God's kingdom in Jesus.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks. I have truly become convicted over these kinds of things of late. I believe that God is dealing with me in reference to these matters in a mighty way. What he is calling me to, I am not quite sure, but I know that more needs to be done.