Monday, November 29, 2010

Home for Heroes or Hospital for Hurters

Imagine this: It's a beautiful Sunday morning. You are gathering with your family and friends to worship at your local church.


In walks one lone visitor. No one knows the visitor. No one knows anything about the visitor.


Imagine this visitor in your mind. Imagine what the visitor might be like. Imagine the type of person you 'hope' this visitor will be.


What kind of visitor are you and your fellow church members most prepared for...a hero or a hurter?


A hero of the faith? A strong believer that knows scripture inside and out? Someone that can teach a class, lead a study, give financially? You know how to welcome this visitor and make them feel welcome, right? Do you hope the visitor that is a hero that has come home?


Or....


Are you prepared for hurter that needs a hospital? A person who has unspeakable hurts? A person living with a secret no one understands? Someone who needs to know that they are loved? Someone that doesn't know Genesis from Galatians? Are you prepared to be a hospital for the hurting?


Newsflash: Both come to your church each and every week. Most are members...a few are visitors. It's easy to spot those among you who are modern day heroes of the faith. It's not usually easy to spot the hurting.


Why?



The hurting that are your friends and have been in your church family for years walk into the church with their church faces on and may not open the windows to their soul to let you see the pain inside. Others have shared the surface of their hurts with some in your congregation only to be discounted or ignored ... ignored out of ignorance ... many times when we don't know how to respond to someone's hurt, we just don't respond at all. We look the other way and hope their problem will go away on it's own. Unfortunately, the loneliest place in the world for some hurting people will be inside your church, sitting next to you in the pew.


Little Lesson Life Expression
How will you help your church become a hospital for the hurting? Are you willing to be a caregiver in this hospital for the hurting but don't know where to start?


Want a few suggestions?


  • Pray first. Alone. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs in front of you. (Between you and God...not between you and your best friend on earth.)
  • Watch. Really see the people you say 'hello' to. See them. Listen to them. Hear them. "I'm fine" rarely means I'm fine.
  • Look around. See who isn't present today. This may be someone who is hurting too bad to even show up.
  • Be open. When you see and hear what people are really saying, don't pre-judge their situation. Remember they are hurting people. Right now they need your love, not your judgement.
  • Shut up. Don't shut down but shut up. Let them know if they want to talk, you'll listen and you'll keep what they say confidential.
  • Follow-up. When you've been blessed enough to have someone open up their wounds to you, there is one person you should discuss this with a few days later. Who? The very person who opened up to you. Call them to let them know you really care. Or email them. Or send them a card...a real card...via snail mail. Let them know you will be there for them. Reassure them that you're keeping their confidence. 
  • Refer if needed. You don't need to have all the answers. You may need to help them get professional help. In the meantime you can still listen. And after you listen, you can pray. 


Galatians 6:1-10 (The Message)

 1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
 6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
 7-8Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
 9-10So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.