Hope Restored


 

The Mind of the Maker:  Week 2 (Chapter 3 & 4)
If you’re not reading with us, that’s ok… Each post shares one idea found in the text. 

We live in a beautiful, broken world.  I’m amazed by watching folks who, rather than becoming cynical, work passionately to restore.  They make a difference.  They offer hope.

Lynne stepped into the lives of a Somali refugee family in Charlotte several years ago. They are not a project for her – they are her friends.  She has gathered a team of folks who invest significant time and boundless love in the everyday lives of each member of the family.  The destiny of this family, and of countless generations to come, is different because Lynne knew what she did (and did not) have to  offer.  Then she acted.  The children are thriving, and the mother became an American citizen a few weeks ago.  Hope restored.

Ruth responded to a phone call from the chaplain of the county jail. The women who end up in jail are frequently in their situation as a result of abusive histories.  The chaplain wanted a woman to step into their lives to listen, pray, and offer a different paradigm for life.  A weekly Bible study evolved into Changed Choices, a discipling-modeled ministry for incarcerated women and their families.  Their success rate is unparalleled, and families (as well as communities) are being transformed. Hope restored.

Dustin, has invested in the lives of children, teens, and communities all over the world. When he learned of the local refugee population in Charlotte, he developed a vision for the Charlotte community’s response.  As a result, Project 658 is actively engaged in bringing hope to the places in our city (as well as in Africa, Mexico, other areas of the world) where hope is most needed. Hope restored.

Sam had a dream to inspire, encourage, and foster a “holy imagination” in those who have children in their lives.  This week, he launched Story Warren, a site dedicated to breathing beauty into those who breathe into the lives of little ones.  We frequently hear of the woes of this generation. Story Warren is an ally in the fight for all that is good.  Hope restored.

Restoration is happening, through these people and countless others.  The folks on the giving end frequently receive more than they give. Hope flows both ways.  Impact, however, doesn’t start with programs, organizations, or projects.  What is the genesis? Take a few minutes and watch the following video.  Think about it.  Take notes.  Share it.  Watch it again.

(This is a link to a video embedded in a website.  Click on “The Next Christians” then scroll down to watch. Sorry for any confusion – the video is not on Youtube, so it was tricky to link.)

Video: The Next Christians

Gabe Lyons asks the questions, “What would happen if we showed up to the world’s problems as creators, rather than critics? . . . What would happen if we show up to create solutions to the systematic problems that could have caused the brokenness to start in the first place?”  Then he walks through the model of what form that might take:

1) Provoked – Hope stimulates vision/ a call to action
2) Creative –  Creativity makes vision a reality
3) Calling – Implementation translates into mission, and response is evoked

What correlation exists between Gabe Lyons’s charge to the “next Christians”of this generation and Dorothy Sayers’s message from the WWII generation?

In chapter 3 of The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers outlines her view of the creative trinity as follows: “For every work (or act) of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly.” (p.37) In a nutshell:

1) Creative Idea – The guiding, unseen image (reflective of God)
2) Creative Energy – The idea worked out into activity (image of the Word)
3) Creative Power –  Meaning of the work and the response evoked (image of the indwelling Spirit)

See the similarity?

Idea. . .  begets activity. . . begets impact. . .brings hope

The creative process extends well beyond art, writing, and music.  We are given limitless opportunities to engage with the world around us – to bring hope.

~ Where have you seen the creative process result in bringing hope to others?

~ What stirs in you heart as you see “systematic brokenness” in the world?  Remember – it all starts with being provoked/ the “idea.”

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It’s not too late to join us as we read through The Mind of the Maker this summer.  We’d love to have you.

Thoughts from week 1 found here

 



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Micah 6:8



“May I bring a new friend over with me when I come for coffee?”


A simple question that changed a family.  My family.  Forever.

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We live in South Charlotte.  Some have referred to our dear city as an “Atlanta wannabe.”  I’m not offended by that description.  It’s actually not too far from accurate.  We like to think that we have the best of both worlds – small town feel while still having access to great art galleries, Broadway shows, professional sports, and the ripples from Wall Street’s economic power generators radiating throughout uptown.  Yes, for those of you unfamiliar with Charlotte, it is uptown, not downtown.  I’ve enjoyed the benefits of this energetic town, including a fulfilling career housed in its tallest building.  We’ve birthed three and raised five children here.  We have a church we love and amazing friends. It is home.

Yet with all that Charlotte has to offer, its strength is also one of its great weaknesses.  I’ve worried about my children’s perspective on life while growing up among such affluence. Given this soccer-mom, banking-hub, Bible-on-every-corner culture, how could we possible raise children who see beyond their comfortable bubble?  Children who are other-centered, compassionate, and have a healthy humility and curiosity with which they approach other cultures – and other people.  Particularly while their parents struggle with the same issues.

Then one hot summer morning seven years ago, a dear friend called.  She and I had planned on catching up at my house over coffee while the children played.  A few hours prior to her coming, she gave me a quick call to ask if she could bring a little boy along with her. “Of course”, I responded.  The more the merrier.  She arrived later that afternoon with her new friend – our new friend – Yusuf, who just happened to be from Somalia.  Yusuf was 6 years old, and had arrived in America just weeks prior to our meeting.  Three little bodies darted around the backyard, two with blond hair and blue eyes, and one as dark as coal.  The boys ran and played in the water from our  hose while my friend recounted their unfathomable story.  They had fled Somalia through the dark of night, lived in a Cambodian refugee camp, and had finally been transported, compliments of the UN, to Charlotte.  More on their remarkable journey another time…


Later that afternoon, we embarked on our weekly pilgrimage to the library.  Like a good homeschool-mom-to-be, I searched out as many age-appropriate books on Africa as I could find.  When I showed them to the boys, I instructed, “This is the country where Yusuf used to live.  The people there speak the same languages as he does.”  Will, my inquisitive, observant, detail-oriented 5 year old who had just spent several hours playing with his new buddy responded, “Do you mean that Yusuf doesn’t speak English?”  


My earnest hope had been that my children would engage with someone who was different than their friends.  That they would develop compassion for other cultures, and that they would choose to build bridges over differences.  But to my surprise, they taught me a greater lesson.   The commonalities of little boys playing in the water instantly bridged the 10,000 mile divide between them.  They enjoyed what they had in common, rather than trying to overcome the ways in which they were different.  They hadn’t met a refugee whose family had fled the dangers of Somalia.  They had met a new friend.


Seven years ago on a humid July morning, the seed of love for our refugee friends was planted in the heart of our family.  The great Gardener has continued to provide fertile soil of opportunity, drench us in the water of the Word, and supply power through the Son.  As a result of His tender care and pruning, that small seed has grown.  We’ve come to love the refugee community in Charlotte, and opportunities to serve them continues to be a significant gift to our family.


I’m consistently humbled by my shallow attempts to give, arrogantly believing that I have something to offer.  Yet each time we show up, our family becomes richer for the time spent with these beautiful people.  People who have fled great danger and had the courage to build new lives from scratch.  People who have farmed for generations, yet now consider fresh fruit and vegetables an occasional delicacy. People who are now strangers in a strange land.


As we were pulling out of the apartment complex last week, I was surprised to note that a small yet significant shift had taken place in my heart.  Walking down the sidewalk was a young man from Nepal.  I had been introduced to him the prior week while he was shopping at the “Clothing Closet.” Shortly after our meeting,  he had labored to help me understand what he was trying to say.  The scene resembled a somewhat comical game of charades, and I wasn’t doing very well interpreting his animated gestures.  Eventually, we finally deciphered that he was asking for a baby swing for his little one.  When I saw him weeks later this second time, my perspective had changed.  He was no longer one of the many faces who visited the Clothing Closet each month.  He has a name.  He has a baby.  His story has become a part of my story.


In the chronic business of life, I wonder how many remarkable stories I pass and dismiss – from the checkout clerk at the grocery store to the neighbor walking her dog.  Everyday, we’re given opportunities to discover a bit more about the Creator through those he has created, and we’re given the great honor of sneaking a glimpse of another human soul. Too oftenwe miss out on the miracle and settle for the mundane.


  People who laugh like we do, who cry like we do, who pray for their children’s safety… just like we do.  And along the way, I’ve gotten a taste of what it means to be fully human.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”    C.S. Lewis

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For the past few years, a highlight, perhaps the highlight, of the Christmas season for us has been spending a Saturday celebrating Christmas with the folks from Project 658 (check them out here – you can join us!) and our refugee friends.  The objections raised by my selfish nature (we don’t have time… too much to do… we’re already tired) quickly dissipate when we drive into the apartment complex across town.  I love the beautiful faces representing the farthest corners of the map.  The content children who are generous with their smiles and hugs.  The adults who delight at the rare opportunity for their children to be photographed with Santa.  And I was lucky enough to catch him under the mistletoe.


That is one cute elf
Project 658.  Yes, they are rock stars.


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

 



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