HOME: a message from Pastor Shawn

There is a song that pretty much every Hoosier knows.  The chorus goes like this:

Back home again in Indiana

And it seems that I can see

The gleaming candlelight, still burning bright

Through the sycamores for me

The new-mowed hay sends all its fragrance

Through the fields I used to roam

When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash

How I long for my Indiana home.

Though I only lived in Indiana for 17 years, and I always considered myself a “California girl,” I had a little sense of this feeling of being “back home in Indiana” when Rod and I spent a long weekend there recently.  We saw old friends and it felt like no time has passed since we last saw them.  It was hard to realize as we would say “good-bye” to these people after our visit that we weren’t going to just see them again next week.  Some of them, we may never see again in person.

Yet we are privileged to have a home here in Redlands.  We are near many of our relatives again and we have made some wonderful new friends whom we feel like we have known forever.  We have a HOME.

While we were at the International Missions Conference at Green Lake, WI, this past month we heard stories of people who are displaced from their homes–people who have lost everything or left everything behind in order to find a safe place to live.  They never wanted to leave their homes, friends and, in many cases, family.  Often, they remembered times when life was good, and they were able to work, study, plan for their future, and live happily.  Then disaster, political or social unrest, war or something out of their control happened and it was all gone.  In many cases through great acts of bravery and heroism they were able to cross borders into potentially better places to hopefully start over again.  But often refugees are not welcomed into these new places.  They are met with suspicion, hostility and even hatred.  Even at our own border, refugees have been separated from the children that they were trying to save from dangers in their homelands.  I am sure that they are wondering if they will ever find a HOME again.  We heard stories of children who were abandoned by family and society to live on the streets of Brazil.  We heard stories of people who were tricked into leaving home to find economic help for their families only to be trafficked into the sex trade or other inhumane working conditions.

But we also heard stories of people finding a HOME.  In Lebanon there are Christian churches that are welcoming Syrian refugees with open arms—despite a history of hostility between the Lebanese and Syrians.  Each Lebanese family can share stories of past abuses that happened to family members at the hands of Syrians.  And yet they find a love for these refugees that has the power to transform lives…and God is blessing them with people coming to follow Jesus and then take the Good News into other countries in the Arab world.  We heard stories of children in Brazil that find a HOME and with it an education and support that helps them to grow up to make a living wage and build a HOME and family and life of their own.  We heard stories of people in Thailand that were rescued out of prostitution and brought to a HOME where they would receive love, education, healthcare and training so that they would truly be able to help support their families.  And these are only some examples.

It caused me to ask the question, “How can we help people find a HOME?”  There are people who have found a HOME in our church that they have found nowhere else in their lives.  How can we make this experience of HOME be available to more people?  How can we help more people in Redlands find a HOME, some of them literally.  What can we do to support those who are working around the world to make sure that people find their way to a HOME in Christ—whether it is a literal home or family or loving support or education or good health or guidance, etc.?  Let us continue to strive for the Kingdom of God and God’s justice and discover how we can be a HOME and we can help people find their HOME.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Pastor Shawn

 

Printed in the August 2018 Tapestry.

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