My vision of the gospel has always been one that emphasizes care for the “other”, the “outsider” or the “strangers”. I have always believed that since Jesus came to bring shalom (for a definition of shalom see the first paragraphy: http:/.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom) to everyone, I should take this to heart and care for those who normally go unnoticed and uncared for.
I credit this conviction largely to my grandparents. Last weekend my wife and I went to visit them and my extended family in my town of origin Powell River. For as long as I can remember my grandparents have lived out a dynamic faith that is active in caring for the marginalized.
Two examples can be seen from my experience this past weekend. On Saturday morning my grandmother (who I have affectionately called “Mam” since I learned how to talk) and I made a trip to the extended care wing of the Powell River hospital. There we visited with the “shut-ins” who live their final days in what is a mostly depressing place. Many of them suffer from neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, many are heavily medicated and so are at the best of times only quasi-conscious. However there “mam” and I went to serve them their breakfast and visit with them—in the process I hope and believe we were able to restore to them a little of their dignity as human beings and provide a little bit of shalom in their life.
Later that day my wife and I helped “Mam” in her other main ministry—collecting returnable bottles to raise money for orphanages in the developing world. To an outsider this ministry may appear as nothing more than a creative way to keep a close-to-eighty-year-old occupied mentally and physically and to provide her with a sense of purpose—however this ministry has clearly been blessed by the hand of God. In less than two months in 2010 “Mam” has already raised $1,100. That is equivalent to 11,000 empty beer cans or 22,000 pop cans. Since 2007 “Mam” has raised $15,800–not bad for an old lady!
The point in sharing this is to say that making a difference is rarely glamorous. Bringing a little piece of shalom to shut-ins in a small, isolated community is draining and at times uncomfortable. Raising well-needed funds for orphanages in Sudan or elsewhere is often done one sticky, five cent pop can at a time. Nevertheless “Mam” soldiers on in her vocation that I believe God has called her to—it may not have the prestige but it’s good enough for her and it’s good enough for me…