Monday, November 16, 2009

World Vision Weekend at Life Center

Our church has been going through a sermon series that has focused on poverty, and what, according to scripture, we should do about it.

The series culminated this past weekend, when Rich Stearns and his wife came to Spokane to speak at Life Center Foursquare. Rich is the CEO of World Vision and the author of the book The Hole in Our Gospel. He spoke at all three of our Sunday services, and afterwards, the members of our congregation "adopted" a total of 1,492 children from Swaziland through World Vision sponsorships. We ourselves chose a little girl, Nosipho Marry, who just turned seven years old.

But the excitement of the weekend actually began for me on Saturday. Working with an amazing team, we set 15 tables to host an event for women leaders at our church. Our keynote speaker would be Renee' Stearns, author, advocate for women and children, and beloved wife of Rich. She is also an attorney, a mother of 5, a lover of Krispy Kremes, and a knitter.

I am delighted to say that we exceeded the expected number of participants by almost DOUBLE...we had planed for 120, and we had 225 women attend the event. After a scramble to gather tables and chairs from throughout the church, it was my great privilege to intoduce Renee'.

She was a wonderful speaker: Informed, warm, humble, candid, inspiring, realistic, understanding, hopeful, and passionate. She spoke of personal experiences, shared multiple ways for us to become involved in the war on global poverty, and cautioned us: "Do not to fail to do something just because you cannot do everything." She concluded with the story about the woman who bathed Jesus' feet in perfume. Scripture tells us that this woman would be remembered because she "did what she could." That is all Jesus asks of us. To do what we can.

To conclude the evening, I invited those who attended to engage in a brainstorming session. I introduced the session with these words:

Now, friends, it is our turn to get in the game. I was recently struck by some verses from James chapter 1. James writes this:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

For four weeks we have listened to what God has to say about the poor. Hopefully we have begun to examine ourselves as the mirror of compassion has been held to our eyes. Now the question is, will we merely listen to the Word, or will we do what it says?

If you turn your note sheet over, you will see two columns. The first says, “What can I do?” This is where we are going to start. If we are not willing to use our own personal time, talents, and money to solve the problem of poverty around the world, then we will not be in the position to lead others in that direction. We must first ask the question, “Lord, what do you want ME to do” before we can begin to answer the question, “Lord, what do you want us to do?”

Most dangerous of all is deciding what everyone else should do. After the first sermon that Pastor Joe preached on poverty, I was in the car with my older son, Graham. I had planned to stop on the way home from church and buy him an i-tunes gift card, which he had been asking for for quite some time—just to bless my kid. On the way out of the church parking lot, we were stuck behind a rather large luxury vehicle. My thirteen year old boy, who truly has a heart for the poor, began a very inappropriate tirade about the selfishness of people who drive such cars when there are children starving in the world. He was quite sure that he knew what THEY should be doing with their money. I reminded him that it is best to leave church asking, “God, how would you like for ME to respond to that message?” instead of, “God, how would you like THEM to respond?” He was quiet for a few moments. As we worked our way out to the main road, he asked if I could take the $15 that I was going to spend on his i-tunes card and donate it to World Vision for vaccinations instead. We went home and did just that. At that point, he had not only asked the right question: “Lord, what would you like ME to do?” but, he had also decided to respond in obedience to the answer that he heard.

And so now it is your turn. What is God asking YOU to do? Think locally and globally. Share ideas. Inspire each other. Make real plans. What will YOU do?


  1. Awesome, Jennifer! Thanking God for teachable moments.

  2. Okay, first, so excited about the turn out for your women's session!I know it was a great time spent together. Yea! Second, I love turning the what are 'we' gonna do to what am 'I' gonna do. I think we all have the stand back and wait and see mentality, and it is so important for us to step out as individuals.
    Lastly, I haven't seen you in what seems like forever, your hair is so long. Wow. I miss you friend.