|By Kim Gingerich, long-term disaster project leader|
As a long-term volunteer project leader with the Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) Rebuilding program, I have had the privilege of experiencing this ministry from the “inside” for more than five years. I’ve been given the opportunity to see our denomination through different eyes: the eyes of service, compassion, and love. The one thing that keeps standing out to me is how we are united, as opposed to how we might be divided. The “we” are volunteers who come from different districts across the denomination to serve together each week. I often comment to them during our end-of-week debriefing that this ministry is the best-kept secret of our denomination.
Why do I say that? Because those who come to serve strive for a common goal that we fulfill together. What is that common goal? To glorify God as we serve with our hands, feet, and hearts to help restore hope in our clients and the communities in which we serve. Because we have that common goal, we are united. Despite our differences, we are united. We are united because we are motivated by love—God’s love for us and our love for Him—which in turn compels us to love our neighbor as ourselves. As Galatians 5:13-14 tells us: “Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is how we build the body and unite the church, week after week: through acts of service that provide opportunities to break down barriers and build relationships. Serving. United. Being the church.
Since BDM has combined its two project sites into one in Lumberton, N.C., we have received a lot of feedback from volunteers that illustrates this unity through service. Here are just a few:
• We are working with people for a common goal—an extraordinary goal.
• It’s the Holy Spirit taking human form, out of our hearts and into our hands.
• We’re so different but we have so much in common.
• Volunteers are like-minded people.
• We come as strangers but leave as friends or family.
• We are stronger together.
Together, across districts and denominations, we come. Different but the same, bound together by love, serving for a purpose, restoring hope, and being the church as we build homes and relationships. These are the real ministries the Rebuilding program of Brethren Disaster Ministries.
This reflection was originally featured in the summer issue of Bridges newsletter produced by Brethren Disaster Ministries. Learn more about the Rebuilding program at www.brethren.org/bdm/rebuild or support it today at www.brethren.org/bdm/givenow .
(Read this issue of eBrethren.)
n July, five workshops were held for children ages 10 to 17. Each workshop was held in a different town and included 10 girls and 10 boys. Most of the attendees were orphans; some lost their parents from natural deaths and others as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. Many children have been victims of trauma and care was taken to invite those who had experienced the most trauma. Some children were chosen from the Madagali area where continued attacks occur and the area is still volatile.
Many of the children’s stories are heartbreaking. Part of the healing process involves telling your story, learning the effects of trauma, and forgiving those who caused the trauma.
Here are excerpts from three stories:
Jadiwar (14) – I ran into the bush and lived on a rock near one of the Boko Haram hideouts with very little food or water. I narrowly escaped but whenever I remember the event, it breaks my heart. I thank God for this workshop which has helped me to remember my hardship without letting it tear me apart.
Hauwa (15) – I was shot by Boko Haram militants in our house during the attacks. My father left me in a pool of blood and ran for his life. My brother came back and rescued me. Even though my physical wound was healed, I couldn’t work well or go to school. Before the workshop I found it difficult to forgive my father because I thought he hated my but now I have forgiven him.
Happy (15) – I lost both my parents and I was living with my elderly brother who started selling hard drugs to get money for our survival. He was arrested and put in prison. Due to the trauma, I could not sleep. But coming to this workshop has helped me regain my confidence and hope in life and I am sleeping better.
In other Disaster news…
On August 18, the town of Kidlindila was attacked by the Boko Haram. Although no persons were killed, the insurgents burned eight houses and ten businesses. Everyone fled the area and for several days no one could get back to asses the damage. Just three weeks after the attack, EYN Disaster Ministry provided an emergency distribution with food and sleeping mats for those affected.
By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement,
In May, I was blessed to attend Young Adult Conference. The theme scripture this year was Ephesians 3:16-20 and invited us to “test the lengths” of Christ’s love for us and to “reach out and experience the breadth” of the Holy Spirit within us. We are called to empower others to go where we can’t go and reach out to those whom we can’t reach. We do this by giving to support this work of the church. When we give what we are able, we trust in Christ’s transformative power. If Jesus used five loaves and a couple fish to feed more than 5,000 people, can’t our gifts, no matter their size, be blessed and multiplied in the same way?
Growing up, I was taught to give 10% of my income to the work of the church. I haven’t always been able to do this, and it took some time and creative budget planning to get to this point. What helped me was creating a spreadsheet to track my monthly income and spending. There are certainly all kinds of apps and software out there to do this now, but it can still be very valuable to see all your money outlined in an old-fashioned spreadsheet. Doing this exercise helped me become more intentional about giving to ministries that are important to me.
Today, while I still use a spreadsheet, I also use www.brethren.org/give . Through the online giving form, I scheduled a monthly recurring gift to support the ministries of the Church of the Brethren that I am passionate about. (Voluntarily, each member of my team has done this, too.)
If you would like more information about how to give, the mission and ministry of the Church of the Brethren, or would like a copy of the budget spreadsheet I use, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
May you be blessed in your efforts to “test the lengths” of Christ’s love and to “reach out and experience the breadth” of the Holy Spirit.