The signs of hope are everywhere. Do you see them? Last Wednesday evening a four-year-old girl was hit by a line drive foul ball at a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. The batter, Albert Almora Jr., knew right away what happened and fell to his knees crying. “Just praying. I’m speechless. I’m at loss of words. Being a father, two boys,” Almora said.
The little girl was immediately rushed to the hospital. After a few minutes, Almora went up into the stands to check on the girl and was consoled by a security guard. He said later that when the child is feeling well enough, he wants to meet with her. “God willing, I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now. That’s all I really could control,” Almora said. The little girl is expected to be okay. As for Almora, he is not only a professional baseball player. He is a difference maker. Of that I am certain.
Are you helping God’s hope to be made real? Difference makers are all around us, if only we have eyes to see. I recently learned about one of our ordained deacons, Rev. Helen Parks, who is a part-time youth pastor at Christ Church in Davenport along with her husband, James, who is the lead pastor.
After the Parks arrived at Christ Church in 2018, Helen decided to become involved at Buchanan Elementary School because of the church’s partnership there. She joined Americorps so that she could work in the school, with a focus on attendance. When the position of Family Involvement Liaison became open, Helen applied because of her elementary education undergrad degree and the church’s connection. Now she serves part-time at the church and part-time as the school’s Family Involvement Liaison.
As a result of Helen’s ministry, Title 1 events for which Helen is responsible have increased from 60 to about 300 participants per month. Christ Church provides food for these events and at least half of the volunteers. She also works with the food pantry that Christ Church operates at the school.
How can we be God’s hope made real at a time of such division and partisanship in our church, country, and world? Difference makers are all around us, if only we have eyes to see.
- I see hope made real when men, women, and children arise each morning and pray, “God, help me to be a difference maker today.”
- I see hope made real when we listen deeply to one another without judgment.
- I see hope made real when we remember our Wesleyan DNA of evangelism and make conscious efforts to create a welcoming atmosphere in our local churches.
- I see hope made real when congregations take the time to assess the needs of their communities and then develop ministries that address those needs.
- I see hope made real when we deliberately attempt to become more inclusive in our decision-making at each level of the church.
- I see hope made real when prayer undergirds everything that we do.
- I see hope made real when communities come together after floods and tornadoes to help each other in recovery efforts. That hope extends to Rev. Catie Newman, our Iowa Annual Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, who works tirelessly to communicate the needs of our churches and communities.
I had the opportunity to spend a few days with my father and other family members in Pennsylvania over the Memorial Day weekend. I am the only one in our extended family who has left the area. Since I can only get home a few times a year, I am always surprised to see how fast things change. My 92-year-old father’s health continues to deteriorate, and he no longer recognizes me, but I am astounded at the love and tender care that he receives in his care facility. Because my two grandmothers and my mother were also residents in this facility until their deaths, everyone knows my dad, Gerry.
He is no longer able to speak in sentences and only occasionally makes sense, but he still has a great smile! Nor is my father able to read, so he can’t sing the words to the hymns. However, as a life-long member of the church choir at Zion Mennonite Church, he knows all the tunes. Every single one.
On Sunday, we went to church in the care facility, with my father in a wheelchair on one side of me and my two brothers on the other side. My father hummed every hymn perfectly, alternating tenor and bass. He has such a wide range to his voice that he has always been able to sing whatever part needs the most help. A choir director’s dream!
Of course, he could not read the words, but the tunes have been indelibly imprinted on his heart, and his pitch was spot on. Even as my father’s life winds down, he is still able to be hope made real.
How can you and I in Iowa be hope made real? Please pray for our Iowa Annual Conference, which begins with the clergy and laity sessions on Friday night. Pray that God will be glorified, that we will make wise, Spirit-led decisions, and that we will make a difference by how we treat one another and reach out to a hurting world
How can you be hope made real? Bring cash cards and gas cards to annual conference, where they will be blessed on Saturday, and then hand them out to those in need in Des Moines and in your local area. Our Conference theme is Creating Difference Makers in Ministry with the Poor. If you are not a delegate, please purchase and hand out restaurant, supermarket, gas, and cash cards to those in need in your community
How can we be God’s hope made real? Invite your congregation to take the time to see where hope is needed in your community and then allow the Holy Spirit to get to work through you.
Faith. Fruit Fire. That’s our vision.
Inspire. Equip. Connect. That’s our mission.
Together, we can be hope made real and make a difference!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith
so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
See you at annual conference. Or join us by livestream by…
P.S. Because of annual conference, Leading from the Heart will be published next week on Wednesday, June 12. That will be my last blog before the summer break.