One of the units I am doing for my diploma is about disability. I had my first two days on the subject last week and it has been an eye opening experience. I knew that disability was not my area of expertise but I have been shocked at how little I know. I thought I had some idea and while I am versed in correct terminology it is a huge area and both myself personally and the church are not meeting the mark to serve the people with disabilities among us as well as those within the community. I hope to educate our church community so that we can be the best body of Christ that we can be. There is so much all people can offer and the church is poorer if we are missing a large section of the population because of the way that we traditionally do church.
As I mentioned in my last entry I was struggling a bit with the direction of my ministry. Since that I have had to revise a few things. I have to remind myself that they aren’t dead ends and it is all useful to learn what works and what doesn’t.
However things have popped up to replace what has had to be let go. My issue is how to introduce the gospel to people. I am open about my faith and can have conversations easily and God is providing those opportunities but it is going to be a long slow process.
The deadline of this being a two year ministry is already looming over my head. But I can’t think of it that way. I can only be prayerful and spend the time I do have wisely and carefully.
Over the last half of June and half of July I was on a study break between semesters. I also had a week off work. It was very nice not to have the mental pressure of study.
Semester Two started last week for me. One of my classes was cancelled a few days before it was due to start which meant I had to look at my whole schedule and see what I could move. It took a bit to figure out but now I am really excited about the units I have started. I am studying Ezekiel and Ecclesiastes for one unit and Revelation for the other. I am unfamiliar with Ezekiel so I have been really enjoying reading through it and starting to grasp the themes. Revelation I am more familiar with, in fact I was surprised how much I remembered from us doing a study through church several years ago. I think because it isn’t text that you can just read and take at face value, but involves a lot of grappling with it is why I have remembered so much.
There’s a few things I am starting this term. I have having issues with people not turning up or not being committed to things. So that means planning is tough.
I have also struggled with the fact that it is at this point that I am putting myself out there in the community. That has raised all kinds of issues for myself about my worth and value. It has reminded me that I can contribute but that it is God I need to fear, not other people. I just need to be faithful and godly.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
It has been a month since I have posted. I have been doing all kinds of things-meeting with people in the community, continuing my study (2 assignments and 1 exam to go this semester!), doing a tutor training course, meetings and lots of prayer!
It is nearly halfway through the year. I feel as though the year as gone as well as I could have hoped for. It has been a struggle for me to not have clearly defined things to do but the structure of meetings has helped me frame my weeks and then I have been able to do research and look at materials around that.
The cost to my mental health is troubling though. I am really struggling although I am loving the work and it is keeping me going, but it has intensified other areas of stress for me. I am going to try very hard this month to look after myself more.
Next term (starting in July) I will be running a visual bible study. I will continue to meet with a group of women I have connected with. I am working on some studies on anxiety and depression and hope to offer them through a local women’s health centre. I want to start tutoring in literacy. And of course, more study!
I want to be able to be bold about Jesus. I am really prioritising prayer as I go forward, really intense, thoughtful, meaningful prayer. It’s hard for me because my mind wanders and it is getting worse, not better but nothing godly is going to happen without prayer.
‘for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.’ Philippians 1:19
Study has started back up, not that it really stopped because I had assignments to do. Work has changed a little because some things have ended and some others have begun. Other life is just always busy.
I am feeling quite drained. God is sustaining me but the past couple of weeks I have started out feeling behind before I started the week. And I know that I am going to make some mistakes in forgetting something or someone important if I haven’t already.
I have let a lot of things go in order to free myself up to concentrate on work and study. But there are still so many important, valuable things to do. At some point I need to just accept the life that I have been given by God and keep juggling.
I know God knows my limitations much better than I do. He doesn’t expect me to have all the answers or to handle everything perfectly. He knows that I will fail but that he will continue to uphold me.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
The term mission statement takes on a whole new meaning when we are involved in ministry! Our church has a mission statement but I feel that as my ministry is more specifically focused towards disadvantaged people that I need to have a personal goal or basis and to have something to check in with to see if I am living that out.
The first component has to be my relationship with God. This encompasses both personally and professionally. There is an image of us not being able to give if we are not receiving from God, that his love that is to spill out onto others has to be in us to show to others. And to refresh and renew us we need to read our Bibles and pray. I have made great progress this year spending more time in God’s word. Studying ministry really immerses you in the Bible and our beliefs and faith.
The second component has to be how I interact with my family. This is where the wheels tend to come off for me. We are a very full household. And it is often harder to minister to them than it is to others for me. At the end of the day I can close my door to the world but not to my family. And just to drive that point home, two of the kids ran into the room while I am writing. I am currently working from home as it is school holidays. Which is an amazing blessing to be able to do but again blurs those lines between work and home. And when I am drained emotionally and physically they get the dregs.
The third part is the people I am ministering to. People that are disadvantaged. That in itself is a very loaded term. What does disadvantaged mean? I am looking at it as people that are hindered socioeconomically, by disability, by health impairments both mental and physical, sufferers of addictions and victims of domestic violence. There can be overlap with all of those. I want people to grasp hold of God’s grace and be transformed by his love.
So what is my role? I think there is a balance in bringing the gospel to people as well as dealing with some concrete needs. I want the following to underpin my ministry.
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
There are some books I have read that I have found helpful in thinking through my ministry. I love to read so I have been working through some books and taking notes as I go. As this is such a new thing I want to be exposed to different ideas in how it is helpful to build relationships and support people that are in difficult circumstances. Below is a brief review of what I have read.
Reimagining Evangelism by Rick Richardson. Looks at talking to people about Jesus as real conversations and not as a sales pitch.Listening to people is so important.
Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman. I didn’t love this one but it was an easy read with some good ideas for interacting with people. Again we need to ask questions to really uncover what people think.
Neighbourhood Mapping by John Fuder. This was a fantastic book. He goes through step by step how we are to look at the communities we want to serve in and see what the real needs are.
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road by Timothy Keller. Starts with the parable of the Good Samaritan which I love. It’s a real challenge to Christians to meet the practical and spiritual needs of the people around them. It wasn’t always an easy read but there was a lot that was very helpful.
I currently have two others lined up to read-Evangelism in a Post Christian Culture by Dr Alastair Ferrie and Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp.