|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.)
This is a phrase I will be taking home from this place. I have heard it a couple of times, and then got into a couple of good conversations around it yesterday, as we considered the concept of peace among the peoples, and how that plays out in our global community of nations.
For so long, the ecumenical movement has been about making manifest the unity we find in Christ. We have been about unity for, well, unity’s sake. But the question was raised here, what exactly are we seeking to live out our given unity for? And the reminder that we have been given is that it is so that the world will know.
We are called to be one in Christ, to seek our given unity as a Christian community, to offer a different example of life to the world, a different model of community and living with one another. We are called to seek unity for peace’s sake. That we can show to the world what it means like to live “God’s Security Strategy”. That is what is truly at the heart of the ecumenical movement. To be a body seeking to live out our unity so that we are a witness to the world of the vision God has.
And this gets made manifest in a number of different ways that we heard here yesterday. It is made manifest in the church serving as an early warning mechanism in places where violence is beginning – being connected to the community in ways the government just isn’t. It is made manifest through delegations of church leaders speaking to our governments, and laying out the alternative vision of security that we find in Christ.
But it is also in being willing to ask tough questions, like the one I am going to leave you with here. What does relying on the ability to kill millions of others for our security do to our souls?
Lets seek to live out our unity for the sake of peace in our world.