By the Rev. RJ Jun, Associate Director of Serving
In the span of a week, my Twitter feed was lighting up with the news with Haiti, Afghanistan, wildfire in California, and then the flood in Tennessee. Sometimes it feels like an unending cycle of ‘tragic news’ when we are in an unprecedented pandemic. We have the heart to help, but some might feel lost when there are so many tragedies to attend to when my backyard is on fire.
From the standpoint of Serving Ministries, I started to get worried that we might be sending out too many calls to respond, which might overwhelm the churches. We already have the call to contribute to the Annual Conference Offering, which will support the effort of the seven food banks in Virginia, and continue our international impact through Partnerships of Hope ending on August 31, 2021. While we are asking churches to contribute to the AC offering, we called for a special relief fund to assist the work of Haiti Methodist Church (EMH) to support the effort to assist the earthquake victims, and then a call to help the Afghanistan refugees. We have not heard it yet, but there might be a call to help the flood victims in Tennessee. And if you are overwhelmed, I want to say I’m sorry. However, I would like to ask that you not shut us down.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
While I was reflecting on what God is calling us to do in this world of crisis, I’ve learned that I’m not trusting in God wholeheartedly. I’m not trusting God, who is the provider of all things. I might be doubting that God is calling God’s people to be part of God’s mission. Knowing that even if we don’t respond to God’s call God will still carry out God’s mission. I’m not trusting in the faithful leaders and disciples of the 1,100 churches in the Virginia Conference, who are willing to hear and act on God’s call. I’m not trusting that God has already placed gifted leaders in this conference who can carry out God’s mission. Maybe I’m trusting more in my ability, rather than trusting in God’s ability that makes everything possible.
In the time of being overwhelmed by the needs, I trust that our churches and leaders will come to God and ask this question in prayers, ‘Lord, out of all the needs, where are you calling us to be?’ Through prayer, I trust that God will call your church to commit to one of the many calls we send out. There will be some churches who are able to respond to all the calls. At the same time, there will be churches that will only be able to respond to one. Don’t worry, that is why we have each other! If one church decided to commit to the Annual Conference offering, there will be another church that will commit to Haiti. In connection, we will be able to respond to all the needs God presents to us.
I’ve been reading ‘A Time to Heal’ written by J.R. Briggs, who is a guest speaker for our October Relaunch Webinar. In his book, he talks about how the churches took the mantle of being a healing agent of the world, right after the Spanish Flu in 1918. He says,
[The church’s] willingness to serve and suffer on the front lines and extend radical hospitality in the midst of great need was their most effective form of evangelism. – J. R. Briggs, A Time To Heal
The call to serve in the time of crisis in our backyard can be burdensome. Especially when there is a crisis after another. However, remember that in the time of tragedy it is essential that we are sharing the message of healing and hope to this world. That is our call, and that is what we do best, with our Lord and with one another!