Regardless of whether I was remaining here or retiring, thanks to Covid, how we do church has been changed. How long before we settle into a new normal or press towards a return to the old normal will be left in your hands. But change does allow us to be pro-active instead of feeling as if we are always behind the eight-ball. Case in point:
Two brothers watching TV in Argyll, Scotland – a less than dramatic call to life changing service. Yet the 1992 broadcast that Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow viewed included horrendous images of Bosnian refugee camps. Shocked, the two salmon farmers, who visited Bosnia as teenagers, wanted to help.
They took a week off and began collecting supplies. Everything collected – food, medicine, blankets, clothes – was loaded up and driven to Bosnia. While away, more donations were delivered and Magnus remembers being deeply moved by the “overwhelming generosity.” It inspired him to embark on a mission.
After much prayer, he quit his job, sold his home, and dedicated himself to helping those in need. As reported by CNN.com, he not only returned to Bosnia twenty-two times but, while in Malawi in 2002, he met a local teenager, who showed him his home. “The mother of the family was dying of AIDS. She was lying on her bare mud floor, and she had her six children around her. I started talking to her oldest child [who said] ‘I’d like to have enough food to eat. I’d like to go to school one day.’”
The incident inspired the program he runs today – Mary’s Meals, named after the Virgin Mary – providing free daily meals to four hundred thousand children around the world, including twelve thousand Haitian children. When the Haiti earthquake hit, the group’s mission expanded even further, to rebuilding schools, feeding elderly Haitians, and providing medicine. MacFarlane-Barrow says that although his Christian faith motivates him, “We are very careful to never link feeding and faith. We serve those in need…period.”
Magnus came to God’s work simply by doing it, “looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others” (Philippians 2:4). What he says he learned in the process is “that every small act of kindness does make a difference.”
First Christian Church may not be the flashiest church in town, and honestly that is okay. But we can excel in service to one another by opening our eyes to the needs around us, however small they may be. More than ever, we need one another!
See you Sunday!
Gary L. West