It should break our hearts to see Syrian refugees fleeing from cities of rubble. It should break our hearts when we hear revelations of yet another case of child abuse. It should break our hearts when we see homeless people and when families break apart. Because we have so much access to news these days, we are painfully aware of the effects of sin in our broken world. But too much information can lead to paralysis because there are so many who need help. We might pray and we might give. But a lot of the time we just move on to the next news story on the next day to protect ourselves from drowning in a sea of hopelessness. As Christians we do have hope that the battle has been won, and that one day we will see an end to suffering. And while we are here there are certainly big ways and small ways that we can be God’s hands and feet to a suffering world. But if we allow ourselves to get too caught up in working for, buying and decorating a comfortable life, then we are really ignoring God and missing out on opportunities to let Him be God. It’s not all too hard and it’s not all up to us. We just have to say yes.
“I can see clearly that I’ve become like my culture, living for myself, my family. Wasting a lot of time and money on things that simply don’t matter to me anymore. Choosing ignorance over truth. Pretending poverty isn’t my problem or my responsibility. I’ve asked God to reveal a new normal, to take this personal revelation and my everyday life and mix them together, creating something entirely different. And I’ve given Him the heavy burden that comes with such a revelation. His burden is easy and His yoke is light, so it’s a pretty good exchange for me.”
I don’t know what you make of this extract from one of Kristen Welch’s blog posts that she wrote in the weeks after she returned from Africa. I am hoping that if you are reading these reviews and that if you read her book then you too will find what I found. A challenge for Christians in the West to wake up from their sleep. I first read Rhinestone Jesus two years ago. I had been reading Kristen’s blog and wondering about how I might say yes to God. When your husband is starting out in full time ministry, you have kind of already said a very big yes to giving over your life to serving God. That was affirming. But I also needed to hear some truths that we all need to be reminded of often. That I have the human bias that always turns me back to looking after me and ignores the needs of others. That great poverty and inequity exist in the world. That buying things will never satisfy me. That I need to be content with what I have. That I can do something about the suffering of others. That God uses us to help in big ways and in small ways.
In the second half of the book Kristen goes on to outline how saying yes to God in Kenya changed her family and how hard that journey has been. She is at pains to stress that she isn’t an extraordinary woman and she doesn’t have the perfect family. Living a God-sized dream is really scary, even when you know God’s got it covered. She talks about how to get your family serving, all rowing together and seeing beyond your own schedule and wants and busyness to serve God. And she talks about how to tackle the guilt, loneliness and doubt which will beset you at times when you are trying to say yes. She talks about practical ways that people who are transformed by Jesus can change the lives of others – buy Fair Trade, give money and goods to those you know who are in need, sponsor a child, adopt an orphan. One person can make a difference in the life of another. Start small, give and be faithful.
“He continues to show me how He can take a small yes and make it enough. My faith has been forged in fire. It may not be as sparkly as a Rhinestone pin. But it is real. And it shines”
About this month's contributor, Rachael Collins
Rachael Collins is a Jane Austen fan who often finds it amusing that she is married to Mr Collins who is indeed a minister. She is an English/ History teacher who has taken a break from teaching in order to devote more time to reading children's literature. Her three children are the happy beneficiaries of this decision. Rachael enjoys gardening, drinking tea, baking and sorting her wardrobe according to colour. She endeavours to read her old books before she buys new ones, but occassionally she loses that battle.