Feet to our faith
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~Dr. Seuss
As a mainline denominational church, it is not unusual to receive an email that might read, “Why bother trying to [prevent malaria in Africa - build schools in Haiti - etc]? You’ll never fully succeed. Besides, what are you saving them from? They’ll probably starve to death any way.” The words are harsh and the viewpoint terribly misguided, but these feelings should not be dismissed or ignored. In fact, they reflect questions Christians don’t often want to talk about: does doing good, do any good? If you’re asked to change the world, does it really change?
The truth is, life is messy and true life happens in the midst of the mess. United Methodists have believed, from the beginning, that each of us is called to participate in outreach and show compassion. Compassion isn’t sympathy. It’s not pity. It’s coming along side someone who needs us. It’s feeling their pain and working toward a solution along with them. No act of kindness is too random or too small.
On a chilly, dreary April morning, more than 2,000 people turned out for the first annual Louisiana Skeeter Run. Held in eight cities throughout the state, community members walked and ran to raise money and awareness for Imagine No Malaria, an initiative of The United Methodist Church. The event was a huge success. “As United Methodists, we put feet to our faith,” said Margaret Johnson, Skeeter Run director. “It’s a great example of who we are.” When asked why she took part in event, one participant smiled and said, “As Christians, that’s our job. It’s what we’re supposed to do.” In other words, it’s about compassion. When the clouds over Louisiana finally broke apart and the sun returned, maybe the walkers, runners, and volunteers that took part in the Skeeter Run that April day didn’t change the world. Maybe they just made a world of difference.
And they’re not alone. Each year, in communities all around the world, United Methodists are working with their neighbors to clean up after disasters, get playgrounds back in shape, offer homeowner assistance for seniors, fundraiser to fight disease, help for single moms, children, and the hungry, hold an 'elephant wash' to support zoo habitat, and much, much more.
In the past two years, United Methodists have served more than 4 million people in 15 countries through community outreach events. These are not statistics. They are life-changing stories. Stories like Jimmy Parton’s, a dying man whose home had fallen into disarray as cancer ravaged his body.
Myers Memorial United Methodist Church organized a team of volunteers to grant Jimmy’s last wish—to provide his blind daughter and caregiver niece with a better place to live. From every corner of the community, volunteers of all ages stepped forward to work together as Jimmy watched in wonder from his bed.
In just one day, the volunteers had not only repaired and cleaned the home; they had cleared the yard and purchased new appliances and a ceiling fan. The next day, Jimmy died. His niece called the act of kindness “a miracle.”
And it wasn’t just “a miracle” for Jimmy and his family. If even just for a day, everyone involved met their most basic human need—to give love and receive it.
Compassion is a road we go down that’s far from inviting. It’s a path of treacherous terrain often blocked by fallen trees or indifference. Frankly, it’s easier to sit on a stump and declare efforts to make a difference futile. But simply put, it’s what Jesus would do. Help someone. Pass along a smile. Enrich a life. Building schools as much as spiritual faith is all in the everyday work of the people of The United Methodist Church.
More: What We Believe
Originally Posted: May 17, 2012