If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:15-16)
For 13 years now we’ve been gathering here to pray—2.8 million times, in fact, not counting the millions of prayers you’ve asked us to send twice a day by e-mail. As Aunt Maudie might say, “Just a bunch of prayin’ fools!”
But what is this for, besides our own spiritual growth? Does anyone benefit besides ourselves?
Jesus went about doing good for people—healing their diseases, teaching them God’s ways, and feeding them when they were hungry. He gave several people life after they had died, and he saved one woman from being stoned to death. So we need to be about the same things.
This year at our World’s Shortest Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2016, we adopted a Mission Plan, providing financial support, prayers and publicity for projects that feed, shelter, educate and protect people: St. Andre’s School in Mithon, Haiti; the SAME after-school program for children and teens in the Diocese of Brasilia, where schools only operate a few hours a day; a 4-year, full-tuition scholarship in nursing at Cuttington University in Liberia ; and assistance for Lakota Sioux families on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Winters in South Dakota are so harsh that every year, someone dies on the Indian Reservations for lack of heat.
We have to live for something beyond ourselves and our own salvation; beyond our own family and community. All of us need a purpose in life; churches need a mission.
With your help and generosity, our Daily Office Network will operate this year with a budget of $30,000. We’re taking 10% of that to give it away—not just to be doing charitable works, but as the start of relationships with each of these groups.
For $30,000 I can barely run a free website in the United States – but in Haiti $26,000 can run a whole school for 200 kids.
In time I’d like to see us begin a series of visits back and forth, where some of us go to Haiti, Brazil and South Dakota, and some of them come to see and teach us.
I don’t have to persuade you that this is important—but I do want to convince you it will also be fun, and that we will receive at least as much as we give.
Two years ago I became a volunteer at my local parish food pantry. It costs me about five hours a week and a few gallons of gas. I get to feel proud of myself—but my big learning is that it’s a total blast to do it. I enjoy the customers so much that I stopped thinking, “Oh, I have to go to my volunteer job now,” and started thinking, “I wonder who I’ll get to see this week!”
Mission work is real work, but more than that it’s real fun. If you haven’t tried it where you live, I urge you to start, because it’s a spiritually transforming experience. (And that is what our sites are about, spiritual transformation.)
But more than just your individual effort, we need to take up mission as who we are and what we do, in addition to prayer. So we’re going to start visualizing faces, not just “causes,” when we pray for people in need.
At the end of three years we’ll evaluate our efforts and ask the Holy Spirit to show us what our next steps should be.
We are also looking at plans for our second Spiritual Retreat, to be held this fall in Houston, Texas, focusing on music, worship and video production. (No musical talent is required!) We want to make opportunities to meet each other, because we’re not just a website anymore, we’re a network and a community.
Blessings on us,