by The Rev. Canon David Roseberry
Over the last few months, as the background and preparation for Matthew 25 were in the final stages of development, I began to see what the Lord was doing (so far). There have been about 35 programs that had received initial funding from Phase One of Matthew 25. As I got to know some of them and spoke to their leadership, I was as humbled and inspired as I was surprised.
Wow. I never knew of the heart and passion in every corner of our Province. For over 30 years I have ministered in very large program, resource-size churches. There was plenty of outreach and mission that I oversaw from my desk as Rector. But I was in touch with a surprising number of colleagues who were NOT overseeing…they were in it. Deep. It was impressive and humbling. Was I going sheepish? (If you don’t get the reference, read Matthew 25)
First, there were the diapers. After four kids and five grandchildren, I thought I’d never think about diapers again. I was wrong. I received a call from Fr. David Wilson. The ministry of his church in the Western Pennsylvania church had run out of money and diapers for their Pantry. They distribute diapers to needy families with young children. He spent about 15 minutes on the phone telling me the story of the church’s outreach to the community. They tried an Alpha Class to their distribution efforts and one family had already joined the church. And he needed diapers for the ministry. They hand out thousands of diapers. When you need ’em, you need ’em. They were funded.
On another occasion, I spoke to a couple whose ministry was in a nursing home. They love old people. They always have. Chris and Carol Herman have spent their life and marriage of over 25 years ministering to people in the last years of their life. When I interviewed them over the phone I could easily see their heart of love. But what blew my mind were his off-handed comments to me: “Of the people who come to our church services who do not know the Lord, about 50% come to faith in Christ before they die.” What? I was stunned. I have worked in the life of large, active parishes all of my ministry and we NEVER have said that about ANY of our ministries. But here was a very quiet, obedient couple and, when it comes to evangelism, they were getting it done.
They even named their ministry one of the most non-seeker names I can think of: St. Lazarus Mission.
Last week a man a few years younger than me shared his story of calling into an ordained Anglican ministry. He and his wife had a daughter in her early 20’s with profound developmental needs. Raising her has overcome them both many times. He told me that the task/duty/service/ministry of caring for his daughter broke him thoroughly. And in that brokenness, he and his wife have found the deep presence of the Lord…and he discovered a Call. Their ministry is modeled after the famous ministry of L’Arche Ministry. They applied for funding and were given a grant. In a miraculous way, they raised the other half of it. He is taking this ministry full-time.
There are more, for sure. We are only scratching the surface.
And this website will be the place where you hear and read about diapers and walkers and special needs and race relations and justice and day-school and after-school and urban farms and street evangelism and rehabilitation and coffee houses and micro-loans and inner-city playgrounds and street people.
If you come to see what I have seen…you might start getting a bit sheepish.