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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Restored

I have had the privilege of connecting with dozens of congregations in at least five mission centres. In eight of those congregations, I was a member, three I served as a pastor, while with several others I shared as a guest minister for varying periods of time.

Of all of those encounters, three stand head and shoulders above the others in my memory. Those three were the Chattanooga Community of Christ in Tennessee, Highland Manor Ministries in Independence, MO, and Victor Valley congregation in the High Desert of California. The reason these three stand out is because these are the congregations that I saw really making a difference in people’s lives. These congregations knew what their mission was, and they were about it. They became communities of hope for people who previously had very little to be hopeful about. Some of these people were the extreme, inner-city poor. A second group were kids and teens who had wretched family lives. They came to church seeking a source of meaning and order. Still others were people who needed help escaping drugs or other addictive behaviours. All of these found hope within the fellowship of those three communities. Lives were and are transformed and changed by the loving acceptance of people who really cared.

Of all the congregations I have known, these three give me hope that all the work we do to support the church really can make a difference. These demonstrate that it really is possible for a congregation to make a difference in the community and in the lives of people who live there. The members in these churches show me what it means to live out D. & C. 163:2b: “The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.” When I feel discouraged because of the apparent absence of missional focus in many congregations, the memory of lives changed in these locations keeps me going.

Last week I saw the same kind of hope finding expression in the lives of several campers at Sr. High camp. In this community which gathers for only one week per year, lives were touched and encouraged. Here, people knew they were loved. In this environment they came to believe it was safe to expose their hearts, even for a brief moment, and trust that they would not be hurt. Here, perhaps for the first time, some found people who would love and accept them in the name and spirit of Jesus. For a while at least, they were, indeed, restored. It is amazing thing to see, and awesome to be a part of.

And so, in addition to the three congregations mentioned above, I can add a fourth fellowship to the list that gives me hope; our own Senior Hi Camp. It is a community that lives love and makes it real in the lives of people. Thank God for such a place, and for the incredible lives it blesses.

What gives you hope?

Posted by Carman

2 comments:

  1. I fully agree with the power of the Sr High camp which is held at Monetville every August. This summer marked a very special occassion in my life. It had been 31 years since I last worshipped with my fellow youth at Monetville. My daughter was able to follow my path as she participated in her first Sr High camp. In the days since her return from this amazing time, we (her and I ) have had a number of opportunities to share about her experiences and I have shared with her my experiences that still seem as fresh as they were 31 years ago. I can say that those memories have gotten me though some very difficult times in my life. My prayer and hope is that the experiences and memories that my daughter has, and will continue to build upon, will uplift her and sustain her during the difficult times that she will experience in her life. Thank God that the Commununity of Christ Church has, and continues to have, such strong tradition of amazing camp ministries. May God bless all the people who have such an impact on the lives of so many.

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  2. Kathy, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. It is good to hear that camp opened the way for this level of sharing between the two of you.

    I am so glad camp was such a positive experience for you 31 years ago, and for your daughter this year. Hopefully she will have the opportunity to go again, perhaps several times over the next few years, which will further help to inform her relationship with God. Further, we always look for Sr. High graduates to become young adult leaders, both in the camping program and elsewhere. No pressure of course, but we work at providing those opportunities to grow for those who are willing.

    Blessings to you both,

    Carman

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