Today’s post is by Calleigh McRaith, who encourages us to think creatively about missions. Calleigh started coming to Church of the Redeemer a little over two years ago after moving back to the Twin Cities from Virginia, where she had been attending law school. She went to Wheaton, lives in St. Paul and works as an immigration attorney.
One thing I’ve been reminded of since moving back to Minnesota a few years ago is that Minnesotans tend to hate asking for help. Midwestern niceness is deeply ingrained in most of us, and we hate to impose or be a burden to anyone else. This can make ministering in a community difficult, as even needs that are strongly felt might be hidden under layers of politeness and deference. Breaking through those layers to get to a place where needs can be seen often means not only praying for the Lord to open our eyes, but also putting time into relationships and building trust. A result of this dynamic is that the people most equipped to recognize needs in other individuals or in communities won’t be the planning committee of a government program or some global nonprofit, it will be the people in that community. It will be you—the friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members of the people in need. I believe that each of us has been placed in the circles that we are in for that very reason. We are called to look at the places we’re in through the eyes of the Spirit and, when the Lord reveals a need to us, to tailor our ministry to that need in a way that reflects the beauty and goodness of how uniquely and specifically the Lord loves and cares for each of us.
The Go Forth proposals are a chance for us to ask for help in meeting the needs we’ve identified in our communities. I have loved getting to know many of you at Church of the Redeemer, and I have been amazed at the diversity of gifts the Lord has blessed our church body with and how eager your hearts seem to use these gifts. Go Forth is our chance to ask big—it’s our chance to take on the projects that seemed overwhelming to us on our own, to get support and encouragement in ministries that we have grown weary in, and to connect those in need with others in our church who have gifts that the person who first saw the need may not have. It’s our chance to bless people with more than their Minnesota politeness would let them ask for and to be living parables of how boundless and extravagant God’s love is for us.
Two examples from my own family have impressed on me the ways that the Lord can use our engagement in a community to meet unique needs. A few years ago my aunt and uncle, who also happen to live next door to my parents, answered a need presented through their church to foster three elementary-aged girls from our community. The mother’s parental rights had been terminated and she was afraid the girls would be split up or lost in the foster care system. My aunt and uncle ended up adopting all three girls and have made arrangements for the mother to visit them and be a part of their lives in a way that I’m sure seemed impossible to the mother at the time she lost custody. It has also been a blessing to watch the girls flourish as they learn to trust that they are loved and safe and that their needs will be met. I’m also reminded of my parents, who noticed that their community’s affordable housing primarily consisted of small apartments and that many families with young children were crammed into these tiny spaces. My parents fixed up a foreclosed house with a large yard and rented it to families with children, charging a rent for the whole house that was about equivalent to the cost of a modest one-bedroom apartment here in the Twin Cities. Although not financially profitable for my parents, that house was a blessing to the children who lived there, many of whom had never lived in a place where they could have their own room or the space to run and play.
So I encourage you to use the Go Forth proposals as a chance to examine your own communities—to step into the lives of others and when a need is revealed, consider how we as the Body of Christ might meet it. I, for one, am extremely excited to see what the Lord calls us into!