Through the last several posts, I have been sharing insights from “Friendship at the Margins” by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl. One distinction made in the book that I found helpful was that of cause verses community. Most efforts to address the needs of those trapped in poverty are cause focused; hunger, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, etc. However friendship based ministry requires a community focus and the realization that in an impoverished community you are likely to address all of the issues or causes named above. Community focused ministries by their very nature are generalized around the many needs of a specific group of people verses specializing in one specific cause. In a world of specializations it is often difficult to be a generalist. The key to being a good community focused ministry is learning to connect to the specialist. The best connections are made in the context of friendships. This week several new friendships began.
Tag Archives: friendship
I spend many days alone on our property in rural Virginia. This cabin in the woods is my sanctuary. I shared earlier this week that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by all the need that surrounds me on a daily basis. I know when that begins to happen, it is time to get away. We know from scripture that Jesus often withdrew to a lonely place, and I think I understand why. In the midst of the noise of ministry, it is very hard to hear God’s voice clearly and even harder to discern the path in front of you.
I always begin these personal retreats with a walk around the property with my 150 pound Bernese Mountain Dog named Max. Today, I decided to take a path I have not traveled in a while through the woods and was sad to see that the trail was covered over with leaves and sticks and that in several places it was blocked by fallen trees and large limbs. Before I could continue my journey, I had to stop and clear away the debris from the road. As I sat to write this post, I realized that “clearing away the debris” is what a good theologian helps us do. They help us rediscover ancient pathways that may have been neglected or covered over with other things.
I was blessed to have two amazing women of faith, Joy Heaton and Pat Henfling, accompany me last night to Greenville Correctional facility to participate in the vigil for the execution of Teresa Lewis. All three of us were participating in this vigil primarily in support of Rev. Lynn Litchfield who has touched each of our lives in different yet powerful ways. As we entered the freeway, I noticed that the moon was a light shade of red amidst a clear dark sky which seemed rather fitting for this ominous occasion.
As we pulled into the field where the vigil was to be held, I was comforted by the large number of cars parked haphazardly between the trees. We took a few minutes to sit in silence in the dark to pray and it was with the same contemplative spirit that we made our way across the field to the site of the vigil. However, that peaceful quite spirit quickly vanished when we reached the crowd who had gathered. Protesters were urging people to take signs as camera crews shined bright lights in our faces and reporters thrust microphones toward us and began peppering us with questions. Something about this whole scene turned my stomach and I attempted to fade into the background. I realized that roughly half of the gathering consisted of media from all over the world.