Monthly Archives: October 2016

Blessings through crossed paths: Are we not all children by the same Father?

Throughout my life, I’ve had some incredible opportunities to be blessed and to bless others. Truthfully, I get way more satisfaction in being a blessing to others. I’m not just writing this because it seems like the right answer of two choices. We are called to have a servant’s heart. Anyone who has served from a pure heart knows what I’m talking about.

Those who bless others will be abundantly blessed themselves;
those who help others are helped.
Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)

DSCN0191.JPGAs I write this*, I am traveling solo in the Dominican Republic building relationships and seeking worthwhile organizations to partner with for service projects with the college students participating in the Southwestern Advantage summer sales and leadership program. It’s 1:00 am. I usually have a travel partner. (Hi Tabitha Taylor, if you are reading this!). We seek out people and places where Christ leads us so the students can make the biggest impact. We want to help those that need the most help. They are generally not helpless, they just need a helping hand. But this time… this time, it’s different.

Being alone with my thoughts is quite a different range of emotions for me. There’s no one with whom to process what I’ve seen. There’s no one to share an experience of both baby-and-barsheartache and resiliency, of poverty and happiness, of pain and pride. I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone in my prayers. I miss my family. I wish my wife and daughters were with me to further expose them to the good, bad, and ugly this world consists of – and how there is always a light that shines through the darkness. 

As I drift to sleep each night, I try to keep those I meet in my prayers – whether I know their names or not, I see their faces. With some, I recall their smile. With others, I recall their anguish. Some images haunt me, while others bring a tear of joy. From the innocent and tragic little victims found in imprisoning orphanages, victims of mutilation, sex trafficking, extreme poverty and hunger to the heroes of their community who start trs-2schools, save lives by teaching a vocation, provide medicine, dig wells, and start Bible groups – each image has a place in my memory and heart. Each face has a story. Each one has a past. Each one has a future. No matter the nation I find myself, the human condition is the same – the haves, the have-nots, and the never-will-haves. I often reflect on the dichotomy between the scenes played out before my very eyes.

There’s this:

  • The time when school children stole black paint from a work project to paint theirpaint-shoes shoes so they looked new
  • The time orphans had been locked behind bars most of their lives; a baby was locked and housed in a closet who could not crawl and was not used to the light
  • The time when an orphanage I wanted to visit was closed down because they had been harvesting organs

But then, they are balanced by this:

  • The time a toddler ran up to me and grabbed my leg asking in Spanish if I was there to take him home (melted-heart moment)
  • The time I carried an injured little girl up a mountainside to her village in Africa and the villagers said “God bless you” – the only English they probably knew (seems to be a universal language)
  • The three times God put people in our paths years before we would be back to be able to help them and their cause by showing his masterful plan three, three, and six years in advance of the open opportunity

Having been fortunate enough to travel with work and participate and lead in missions, I’m never let down by the lessons of compassion God teaches me through the experiences I encounter and the people I meet. I’ve had people tell me before they don’t buy into missions or service projects because they are “temporary relief” or “false hope.” Well, I’m not buying what they are selling. trs-1I know for a fact the people who receive help, receive hope. It’s real easy: the outcome of your mission is determined by the scope of your project and the intentions of your heart.

Yet again, I am reminded why God puts me in the places where I find myself. He will do that for you, too! It may not be International missions, but it may be an elderly neighbor, a widowed coworker, a single mom, a sick relative, or a local group you find delight in helping. Blessing others really should be a daily practice, not a random or singular occurrence.

On this particular journey in the DR, I was led to a partial verse that has echoed in my head from Malachi 2:10. I believe I have found my inspirational self-talk in the form of two questions with obvious answers to me – whether in a remote village, destitute barrio, or down the street from my house.

Are we not all children of the same Father?
Are we not all created by the same God?

Yes! With this being so, should we not show mercy in the face of misery? Should we not bring peace to the poor? Should we not give bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty? Should we not show up where we are called to be? Should we not just show? Should we not be a blessing to others?

As I read a book I brought, Mark Batterson says it best in Primal:

“Don’t let what you cannot do keep you from doing what you can.”

Words to live by. And that, I shall do.

Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com
*Posted after I returned with access to wifi.

Coming Together for the Community Through Unity

Just about everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.

While this is true, I would like to add that most important theological truths I really needed to know I learned in the children’s songs I sang in Sunday school.

I can still vividly see my Sunday school teacher holding up a hand puppet with different color yarn on each finger. She would wiggle each finger as she sang:

color-puppetsJesus loves the little children
ALL the children of the world
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!*

I remember how loved I felt. The warmth that engulfed me as the truth of God’s love entered my ears, traveled through my brain, and floated down to my heart where a lasting impression was made.

I grew up in a very small church in a rural town. The hard truth is, I was not surrounded by the very diversity I sang about. While I may have not been surrounded by diversity, I was taught to LOVE.

With our country seemingly becoming more divided, the Christian community should be working to point to the true source of the divide. It has been said, “this is not a race issue, it is a sin issue.”  From the beginning, sin has been the ultimate cause of every great divide.

When we focus on the true source of an issue, we will find a true solution.

We know the source… sin.

So, now what?

Phil Wilson, Lead Pastor at The Bridge Fellowship in Lebanon, TN, heard God loud and clear telling him to do something about that very question. When you’re listening, the Holy Spirit will usually lay it out for you. In this case, it was: If sin is dividing, then the answer is in uniting.

Knowing a triple-braided rope is not easily broken, Pastor Phil brought around 30 church leaders and staff members together. This was a group coming together that crosses denominational lines.

The idea?

He wanted to find a way to help community members of assorted local churches engage outside of church walls. He wanted to see interaction in the community, and that interaction lead to action. How do we help others reach across any barrier and come together for prayer with the end goal being unity? In most towns, neighborhoods, and cul-de-sacs, the problem of division is being talked about, but not acted on. In some parts of our nation, there is a boiling point where those who find themselves on opposite sides of an issue are separated and split by an event of violence, racism, or emotion.

The idea was to find a way to engage each other in the community to come together fortbf-oneinchrist prayer and unity.

The result so far has been that 16 churches have handed out bracelets for members to wear. If you see someone else in the community wearing the bracelet, they can be approached and  engaged to join in prayer.

bracelets-oneinchristWhat makes this unique? The bracelet consist of the colors red, yellow, black, and white fading into each other. The idea planted with Pastor Phil by the Spirit is taken from the children’s Bible song referred to above, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” A hashtag has also been paired with the community campaign, #OneInChrist, which is also imprinted on the bracelet.

Community members wearing the bracelets have been seen in grocery stores, hardware stores, at schools, and gas stations. While it may not instantly solve the turmoil caused by division, it does start to break walls that divide us. According to Pastor Phil, the bracelet idea “allows one to seek out churches and Christ-followers, regardless of race or denomination, to connect and pray for the healing of our fractured communities and nation.” And as he further noted, “We are one chosen race. We are not defined by the skin color, zip code, or church we attend. Instead, we are defined by the saving, life-giving love of Jesus Christ.”

Other churches have jumped on board as well, promoting the idea to connect past the borders we all have in our heads. Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee posted on their website:

prov-quote

Who knew a simple, rubber bracelet could bring about unity and conversation. Rather than building walls, it can build relationships. Rather than bringing about unrest, it can bring unity. The colors of the bracelet run together and make a circle. This representation of cohesiveness and unending union serves as a reminder to all who wear it that there is a connection we share in common: unity in the love Christ has for all of us and we should, therefore, have for each other.

Growing up in a small church in a rural town kept me from diversity, but it taught me to love and respect everyone. From different colors of yarn based on children’s song lyrics, to a multi-colored bracelets – Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children of the world, Red and Yellow, Black and White.  It’s not the channel, but rather, the message. We were all made in His image… and that makes us more alike than different.

This post co-written by:
Erica Pearson, ericalovesbooks@gmail.com
Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

*words by C. Herbert Woolston, music by George F. Root