Update: Anabaptist church in the Bronx & an invitation to a day of prayer and fasting, April 3

Each day I look forward to updates from Rich about what their church has been up to. It isn’t possible for me to do what they are doing, though I would long to do so, so for now I do the part I can: pray, share their updates, and contribute financially. A week ago I didn’t know he and Sandy are pastoring a church, and knew nothing about their church, and now  they have left a ‘heart print’ on my life, and many of you. Following is his update:

***A few disclaimers to our friends and acquaintances. As I read through your kind, thoughtful comments from last night’s post and noticed that many friends shared the post, I got a bit uneasy. I mean, our family and close friends and church know that my breath stinks if I don’t brush my teeth or take a breath mint, and I can blow up a bathroom with the best of them. Another way to put this? We are just ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. Some of you seem to have been preparing nominations for sainthood for Rich and Sandy. Please don’t waste your postage. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. We really do appreciate your prayers! Seriously.

This global, national, and local crisis is serious, despite those who think it is just a vast left-wing conspiracy to unseat the powers that be. Political hacks exist in every party and in every community, but this is more serious than any political hack. I am suggesting to our church group and to any other believers out there who are interested, please consider making Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

II Chronicles 7:12-14 is very relevant for such a time as this. “When I…send a pestilence…if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The people of God will always make the right choice when we humble ourselves, and pray and seek the face of God, and repent of anything we need to repent of. Fasting provides us a chance to identify more closely with the suffering that others are facing, and to direct ourselves away from our food [and other] addictions and towards God.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I am hesitant to mention names of people to pray for in this public forum, but if you are interested in a list of prayer requests email us at uwriterich@gmail.com

Friends have been asking how to give to us as we help here. We have a church PayPal account, bjcgive@gmail.com. The church received $880 in the past two days from friends interested in helping us as we help our community. If you want to give now, we will designate it for ministry for EMS workers, ER workers, and other persons affected by this crisis. We have a friend who lost his job, a friend whose business is struggling, and the friend on the ventilator we mentioned last night has some financial difficulties. Brianna said that we ought to see if we could start a fund to help people who are out of a job who can’t pay their rent. I think that’s a great idea. Unfortunately, this struggle is going to hit many parts of the US and world. We are in the middle of it right here in NYC, but there are places around the US and around the world that are soon going to be in the middle of it, either with the medical crisis or the economic crisis, and probably both. If you would rather give directly to us as a family you could PM us and we could send you our mailing or PayPal address.

We are hoping to recruit some help to take another set of sandwiches to the Jacobi Medical Center this Friday. I already asked Orville, our Christian friend on Boston Road whose restaurant is slow, if we can order our sandwiches from him. And he agreed to pay another friend who lost his job to come in and help him prepare the sandwiches. It’s probably not “trickle-down economy” for those who know the term. Maybe we’ll call it “Living Waterfalls” economy.

Brendan Weaver here at Believers in Jesus Church spearheaded some food distribution and prayer today, and sent an update to us, which I include below:

**Our church provided lunch for the EMS Station nearest us today. We provided food for 35 people including platters of sub sandwiches and a cookie platter from Subway, single-serving chip bags and drinks from Aldi. Suzie is the little Asian lady at Subway that I have worked with over the past two days for the food orders. I had explained our mission to her yesterday and today she seemed delighted to see me and was eager to help figure out exactly how much food would be need. Both days she went the extra mile to give discounts. Today as I was leaving, I bid her farewell with a “God bless.” Her response was, “No, God bless you.”

At the EMS Station it was a bit confusing to find the main entrance so I approach a running ambulance with a crew sitting in the front and explained my reason for being there. They directed me to the front door then they went inside to get help to carry the food. Probably 6 or 8 EMTs and Paramedics came out to help carry in the bags. They were all enthusiastic with their appreciation and thanks including cries of “God is good.” They asked me to come into the station where I met the desk lieutenant and EMT Guzman, who was my contact from yesterday. All were very grateful and appreciative that the church would reach out in this way. The lieutenant said about 50% of their staff is out sick and their call volume is higher than normal, but they are doing okay because they have received mutual aid support in the form of EMTs and paramedics from other states to help staff their ambulances. I spoke with them for a few minutes and then asked if it would be okay if we prayed together. They agreed and the group of 6-8 of us in the room had prayer together asking for God’s protection on them and our city. I explained that many churches are reaching out from across the USA wanting to know how to help and that they please let us know if they could think of any other way beyond food and prayer that we could be of assistance. I also made sure to attach prayer cards from Stan & Sharon to each platter of sandwiches and cookies and also gave them a stack of prayer cards. As I was leaving, they were sending out a message on their radio that the food had arrived. One thing is sure, the gift was appreciated and FDNY EMS Station 20 was blessed today.**

Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
1 Cor 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

If you can join us, let’s make Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

Rich***

*****

About a week or two into the realization that there is a serious pandemic on our hands, and it isn’t only media hype, I found the photo (above), added 2 Chronicles 7:14, and made it my Facebook profile pic. At the time I had forgotten that the verses prior talk about God sending a pestilence, followed by this call to repentance. A pestilence is a fatal epidemic disease. It wasn’t until Rich wrote about it that this detail came back to me.

For many months, even years. there have been prophetic voices speaking into this, warning the people of God to repent, to turn back to His ways, or there will be consequences. From worshipping materialism, to holding our own beliefs as ‘salvation’ — or our good name — to disregarding Amos 5, where God makes it clear that He is sick of ‘worship’ when justice and mercy have lost their place, we need to repent and turn our hearts back to Him. If you want to know what is important to God, read Amos 5:

A Lament and Call to Repentance
Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”
This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to Israel:
“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”
This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    do not seek Bethel (a holy place).
do not go to Gilgal (Joshua 4:20 – an alter),
do not journey to Beersheba (God’s promises, Genesis 26:23–33).
For Gilgal (the alter) will surely go into exile,
and Bethel (the holy place) will be reduced to nothing.[a]
Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus (a well-watered land),”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.
    Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

 

Do I think God is ‘sending’ the current epidemic?  No. Not at all. Disease is the result of our sin and fallenness. And when we cut God out, or turn from Him to idolatry, there are consequences. And idolatry is giving our primary allegiance and focus to anything other than God. It is exalting any other thing to the place reserved for Jesus, for God. Whether a physical idol, a belief system, or any other thing that I hold as part of my salvation or give my love and allegiance, we have a definite problem with idolatry in churches today. And God has stepped back. He has not abandoned us, but He has not prevented the consequences of sin from doing great harm. It is up to us to humble ourselves and cry out to Him.

I have written about it before, and it bears repeating. God calls believers to repent for the healing of the nation. I invite you to join in, Friday April 3, to fast and pray for our nation, to repent of what you need to repent of, and to stand in the gap for all impacted by this terrible devastation.

 

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

Update: Anabaptist Church’s ministry moves Bronx nurse to tears

Last evening Rich shared an update that left me in tears. It is so beautiful, the doors God opens, and how the care of His children gives the weary frontline workers a safe place:

***Quick report on today’s opportunities to deliver Subway/ DD/deli sandwiches, sodas, box of Joe (DD) and box of hot chocolate to the ER workers at Jacobi Medical Center. Our contact, the director of communications at Jacobi, asked us to meet her at the ambulatory entrance to the trauma center, so we pulled up there and offloaded our food and drinks, enough for about 60 people. Our friends Stan and Sharon from our church made these cool little cards with verses on one side and “If you need prayer” contact information on the back and we taped the cards on the sandwich wrappers. Sandy prayed with our hospital friend who received the food with gratefulness. She said that her father has just been admitted to the hospital this morning, and she talked about the stresses of this time at the hospital. She also took a small packet of masks that our friend Sharon had sewn and told Sandy that they could definitely use these masks for patients and other people who come to the ER.

Our friend Brendan from our church got the Subway sandwiches, so it was a neat team effort. Our daughter Bri was closing down the Eastchester Dunkin’ Donuts this afternoon because the owner (he has seven Dunkin’ Donuts) needs to consolidate his dwindling work force. So the owner told Bri to give the doughnuts and bagels to her parents to give to the hospital. Sandy returned that afternoon to DD to pick up those items and she spoke with a police officer in line. She had the opportunity to speak with that police officer and pray with him, and he recommended that she take the free doughnuts to the EMS station. Sandy thought to herself that this is what she loves to do, pray for people.  She took the doughnuts and bagels and headed off to where she thought was the local EMS station, but the GPS took her back to Jacobi. So there she was at the Jacobi Medical Center. Sandy sat in the car and prayed about what to do. She saw an ambulance pull up and decided to go up and offer the food to the paramedics. A male nurse came up behind her from getting out of his car and said “May I help you?” She said “I just came to encourage you today.” He lifted his glasses to look at her and told her “I had to step away from the madness for a little while and take a break.” The man started to cry and Sandy asked if she can pray for him. She stood there, praying for this big male nurse, with tears running down his cheeks. The man told her that he and his coworkers had just stepped outside earlier that afternoon and held hands and prayed, because there is so much stress. Here is this big guy, broken up and crying, telling her “I just had to step away from it for a while.”

Brianna has two coworkers who have each lost family members to COVID-19 in the past week. One of her co-workers lost her Grandpa, and they couldn’t even go to visit him while he was in the hospital. Another of her co-workers lost her Uncle. The co-worker who lost her Grandpa is now at home, sick.

Our friend up the block on Corsa Avenue is perhaps a few years older than us, and she has been hospitalized since Friday with COVID-19. Today they had to put her on the ventilator, which seems kind of like her health is headed in the wrong direction. Please pray for our friends and neighbors around here, and pray for us. The “news” out there gets more real when it is the news right here in our community.

Rich ***

Today they planned to serve the local EMS.

Again, if you would like to financially support the costs of this ministry,  the following email is the church’s PayPal: bjcgive@gmail.com

******

One medical professional, I am told by a friend, had to wrap over a dozen dead bodies in black plastic yesterday, March 31, 2020. Unless we are them, we cannot possibly imagine being responsible for that task. The strain of this, knowing that with each infected body they are exposing themselves to this virus, and with that exposure they risk infecting their families at home, is almost too much for some. Yet they press on, knowing they, too, could be that body. You don’t work that closely with death and not feel your own mortality. It is no small wonder that a medical professional would be reduced to tears when a kind strangers shows up to care and pray.

It is my hope that hearing these inspiring stories will give more believers the courage to be bold in love, practical service and prayer in this COVID-19 crisis. We live with pre-conceived notions about the people around us. A big tough nurse, on the outside, does not show us a tender soul on the inside, taxed to the endth degree by present circumstances. To be surrounded by thousands dead and dying in your city and hospital, as these healthcare professionals are in New York, would be most difficult. Not only is there sickness and death, there is the awareness that loved ones are being torn apart in their time of suffering.  That is a form of suffering all its own; one these healthcare providers are obligated to enforce. One we do well to be aware of, to pray for the healthcare providers, all frontline workers, the sick and dying, and to support those in our lives who are isolated in ways that wear down the mind and body.

I think of my brother fighting a hard battle with cancer. He has been courageous, as has his wife. We, as family, have tried to visit regularly — with some able to go more frequently than others — and cook for them. Now they are isolated, going through this battle without the physical presence of friends and loved ones. I hear her voice, the loneliness and heaviness of the journey, and ache for them.

These are difficult times for many. I am more introvert than extrovert — ambivert would be most accurate — and adjust easily to being home, or being alone, though I do miss friends from time to time, and especially miss seeing our children and grandchildren. For many this is depressing and lonely. For those in abuse situations, this is a terrifying time. As someone who grew up in violence, I remember well how times of stress and financial hardship escalated violence and death threats. For those spouses and children, this isolation is a most hellish thing.

In some way most of us, or all of us, have been impacted, in big or small ways, and for many this increases the risk of depression and suicide. As believers in Jesus, we have love and hope to offer, even if only by extending a listening ear.

For this reason the churches who insist on meeting, rather than allowing themselves to be ‘scattered to serve’, boggle my mind. Whatever the motive — whether to prove they can do their thing, or to keep the money rolling in, or whatever else might be their motives — it does nothing to convince the world of love. Absolutely nothing. It is selfish.

If we would all lay aside our temporary losses and call one another to love, prayer and kind deeds, would we not exemplify the love of Jesus beautifully? This is what drew me to the little Anabaptist church in NYC. They are heroes. They are human. They are not seeking to be noticed or idolized. (So please don’t). But they are living the love of Jesus well. They are preaching with their hands and their feet, and encouraging through prayer. They inspire me… make me ask, “What can I do to show His love?”

And amid the pressure of completing this term of university, I’m trying to find little ways of making a difference.  In the weeks and months ahead, we will have opportunity to serve our fellow mankind,  to rise up like we never have before, to carry the burden of the inevitable cost and consequences resulting from this tragic time. We need to prepare our hearts today for this call, and the doors God will open for us to take His love into the world around us.

To have one foot firmly planted in the present reality — so we can be present and supportive, and the other firmly rooted in eternity, with a heart invested in Jesus and people, this is my desire and my commitment.

My prayer for you, for me, for us today is quite simple, “Jesus, hold your children tonight. The lost ones. The found ones. The struggling ones. The secure ones. We invite you to be present in our stories, in every part. Help us, who know you, to be mindful of those in need around us… to lean in and listen to the fears around us and offer love and compassion… to hear the hearts that feel lost and alone, and offer encouragement. Help us to represent you well. Always. And in all ways. Thank you for loving us in our brokenness. Now, help us love others in their brokenness too. Amen.”

NOTE: If you have a good news story you would like me to share in the midst of the tragedy of COVID-19 , send it to my personal email. There will be no shortage or tragedy in coming days, and that tragedy needs to be acknowledged. But we also need to hear encouraging stories, and see humans coming together to support one another, and blessing those who are in the front lines.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Love, wrapped in a sandwich: Anabaptist church in Bronx NY, serves healthcare workers at Medical Centre

Rich Schwartz, the lead pastor of BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHURCH, a small Anabaptist-type outreach church in the Bronx, NY, shared the following last evening:

** On my way back from a site inspection in Manhattan, I stopped in at the ER at Jacobi Medical Center here in the Bronx. I had some very helpful interactions with a police officer who has been stationed there 18 years, a nurse who is a 30 year veteran, and two H.R. people with 30 and 16 years experience. All of them said they have never faced such difficult times at the hospital as they are facing now. There is a very real shortage of every kind of PPE. As the police officer walked me from the main building over to Building Four, we passed a refrigerated tractor-trailer that had the back open. The police officer grimaced a bit as we saw dozens of bodies taking up probably 70% of the floor of that trailer. They weren’t stacked on top of each other, but it was surprisingly full of bodies in body bags. Eerie.

Tomorrow (03/31/2020) at 12:30 p.m., we are hoping to bring in individually wrapped sandwiches, coffee/tea, and juice to the nurses and doctors at the ER of Jacobi Medical Center. I have a contact there who said they would welcome this. Rich **

This is church. Living. Breathing. Giving. Loving. No walls. No pews. Those things have their place for encouragement. But this is church that I can get behind, 100%.

This morning, interacting with Rich via Messenger, he added this:
I would advise the public to pray, meditate on Psalm 121, and look for ways to love others well.

It takes courage and compassion to walk into such a space surrounded by death, when you are under no obligation to o so, humanly speaking. When practical, hands on, frontline duty could be left, by virtue of their training, to doctors, nurses and others who ‘signed up’ for this through their profession. This pastor’s visit to the Jacobi Medical Centre opened up doors to serve and show love in practical ways, so that his congregation is now making food for the healthcare providers at the medical centre. (I asked if there was a place for people to donate. The following email is the church’s PayPal, if you would like to help with the costs of this ministry: bjcgive@gmail.com).

After my exchange with Rich, I received the following message from his wife:  This is Sandy, Rich’s wife chiming in. 😀 There is a possibility that we will be able to video call patients in the hospital to pray with them. Pray that we can do that! Such an awesome opportunity!

Let’s pray for them as they reach out to the sick and hurting, and the medical team looking after their needs. To step into the suffering of others is not easy. Pray for the church as they show the love of Jesus to those around them.

We can’t all go to medical centres and offer assistance. For one, it would be counterproductive and become saturated, creating extreme and unnecessary risks. But we can all listen to the nudging inside of us, and do the next right thing, and care for that one person within our reach. We who are believers ‘signed up for this’ when we accepted Christ as our Saviour and Lord, and committed to walking in the Way of Love.

*****

COVID-19 THOUGHTS, MUSINGS & NUMBERS:
I’ve followed the numbers closely from the start. There is much public speculation about whether the numbers of cases are ‘real’, and comments like, ‘most of these people would have died anyway’, and that kind of thing. Or, ‘they’re fudging the numbers to scare us’ and take away our freedom. Or, we can’t stop it anyway, we might as well let it run its course, live our normal lives and see what happens.

We’re all entitled to our thoughts. That’s one of the beautiful things about free will. We are even granted freedom of speech (at least in relation to this, for the most part, as far as I have seen and know). We won’t all agree, and that is ok too. Ideally we disagree respectfully.

For all the memes and jokes we’ve seen (or created) about the toilet paper shortage — because that truly is funny, at least until you run out of TP in your house and are left to scramble — the disease itself is not funny. It is ruthless and harsh. Whether the people all would have died or not is not the question. Based on what friends in healthcare are seeing, the answer to that question is, “no’.  A friend who works in a hospital watched an otherwise healthy individual, almost ten years younger than me, succumb to COVID-19. There was no underlying heart disease, diabetes, or other disease that made this person high risk. No medical reason for someone so young to die. Young. Healthy. Gone.

Reading Rich’s experience, how he saw the truck with bodies lined on the floor… That’s not a normal death rate. That’s not a ‘they would have died anyway’ situation. That is the outcome of a high risk disease spreading at unmanageable rates, taxing the healthcare staff. We can’t afford to have our medically trained professionals burning out. For that reason alone, exercising caution is the most respectful and loving thing we can do for our neighbours.

On the other hand, hearing  Rich’s experience, what he saw on that truck, is no reason to live in fear. I do not say this for that reason. I say it as a call to ‘love in action’ and to encourage respect for others’ wellbeing during this time. Just because I am not afraid to die does not mean I have the right to impose such risk on others.

The restrictions by governments across the world are to protect the public, by preventing rapid spread and unnecessary infecting of countless people. To the argument that they don’t protect the unborn, making them hypocrites for pretending to care now, my question is, “What bearing does their failure in one area have on our duty to protect life in every situation?”  Regardless of the failure of government in any area, my duty is to protect life always, as much as I am able. If they are comfortable killing babies, I should be no more comfortable causing unnecessary death and harm to others. My duty is to Christ, first and foremost, and to show love and grace in whatever situation I find myself. Right now, the best way to love those around me is to not put them at unnecessary risk.

I’ve seen strange claims that this is an attack by government on our faith and religious freedom as believers. No it isn’t. It isn’t persecution against the church. We are not victims here. God is not taken off guard by the scenario, and I have a hunch He’s trying to speak to the church, but some of us are too busy playing the victim to hear him. If it really was persecution for the sake of Christ, we should rejoice, not fight for our freedoms. But it isn’t that. We are all shut down together, along with our friends who are atheist, Muslim, Sikh, and every other religion.

So saying we are being persecuted is a bit of an embarrassment to Christianity, as though somehow we should have special rights. First of all, it isn’t persecution. Secondly, a life of ‘special privilege’ is not what Jesus said His life would offer us. Thirdly, in everything that happens, God is about pursuing hearts, and if we align ourselves with His vision, we don’t have space to play the victim. We have only an opportunity to love well.

Sin and death have done a number on us, on our world. Disease is part of the curse of sin. But God…

These difficult times are an opportunity to show love to others in ways we do not normally see. We tend to be so busy about our own lives that we don’t see opportunities to share the love of Jesus in practical ways. Right now, if we stop fussing long enough to see and hear, there are countless opportunities to bring the love of God to people, even from the quiet of our homes. Seize the moment, as a Jesus-believer. Show His love and grace.

Let’s pray for the countless sick across the world and in New York. New York been hit hardest in USA, with over 75,000 sick in that state alone, with over 180,000 across USA infected. New York, alone, has almost as many cases as have been reported in all of China. Even with fudging numbers, if such a thing would be happening, there is a staggering number of sicknesses and death, with evidence Rich writes about to validate that it is a significant and traumatic number of infections. They need our care and our prayers.

And let’s pray for the many struggling with suicidal ideations as a result of fears surrounding COVID-19. There have been numerous high profile suicides — including the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, and a nurse who feared she had infected patients — which has the potential for ripple effects. The hopelessness that comes from not being able to see their way through the present pandemic and inevitable aftermath speaks to a deep need within the human heart. Our desire to feel safe, secure, cared for is normal.  When that is shaken, we need a deeper hope. We need to know that in our need we will not be abandoned. In Jesus we have that hope. And if we are in Him, and carry His hope, we have something to offer. Not in preaching condemnation. But in loving generously and in prayer.

Admittedly, there are moments I don’t know what to say to God, or how to pray, in all of this. And the simple prayer that rises from my heart is this, “We need you Jesus. We need you. The world needs you.”

We need Him desperately. And the world needs Him. We are His hands and feet, ‘living among them’; the brokenhearted.  It is our opportunity to show the world that Jesus is kind and generous. He is hope. He is peace. He is love. He is present. … present, through our love.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Why Canada Should Welcome Every Refugee

She walked into Tim Hortons, just after I ordered my coffee; I stood off to the side, waiting for it. With nothing better to do, I entertained myself with people watching, discreetly of course, and she inevitably caught my eye. She looked like she came from ‘that’ part of the world; Middle-East, somewhere. I noted she didn’t quite look the girl taking her order in the eye, quickly glancing down as she dug in her purse. Then up again, but not quite in the eye. She looked shy; nervously uncomfortable. We got our drinks at the same time, and she was now a few steps ahead of me, and seated herself at a lonely little table, tucked in beside a wall. I had a booth not far away. Her eyes, I noted, looked sad or ‘down’. And then I caught myself wondering, What would it feel like to be that woman, to be anyone from the Middle East right now, in a restaurant full of Caucasians… or to look like maybe I was ‘one of them’, regardless of my birth place? And I concluded it must be unsettling, even frightening or shameful; shame for ‘my people’ and atrocities committed by them. My heart was stirred with compassion, and I wished for a moment I could ask to sit with her, but I had a client coming in minutes, and besides, it would be beyond awkward for both of us….

****

The title of this blog works much better as a question than as a statement. Why should Canada welcome every refugee? Why should we? Why should USA, for that matter? Or any other country? The truth is, no one should. Because national security is a matter not to be taken lightly, by leaders of a country. And our leaders should think it through carefully, before making decisions.

Emotion-driven ‘help’ and hype-driven ‘compassion’ isn’t compassion. It’s guilt. And it’s not about the refugees. It’s about us. If a moment of emotional response, at seeing a toddler washed up on shore, is the sole driving force for me–as an individual or leader– to say, “Bring them in by the masses!” Then we are utterly selfish, not to mention entirely foolish. Because we are merely trying to assuage our guilt by an act of kindness toward someone who doesn’t have the luxury of peace we have.

And guilt-drive act of kindness that could well have been custom designed to captivate Western Society, according to some. And it’s true, we don’t really know the real story behind that drowning. Children drown in Canada, USA, and around the world, and it is always possible that such a thing could be used for manipulation, to gain access, or to draw compassion. We may never know that. But regardless of the details, a child drowning is tragic and yanks at every parent’s heartstrings, every aunt, every uncle, every grandparent, and pretty much any compassionate human being. And it should stir us. It better.

And even if, worst case scenario, it was a manipulative act and a set up to draw compassion from Western culture–as numerous individuals have surmised, wondered and suggested, and a question that wondered through my own mind that very first news broadcast–it doesn’t make the crisis any less real. And it doesn’t make the need any less legitimate. Syrians are suffering and displaced, and they do need help. But the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and logistics of it are not matters for impulsive action, from the perspective of a country. World leaders will need to exercise great wisdom in making the right call. And only the future will declare which avenue was the ‘right’ one, for good outcomes. Whether Putin’s locked and guarded gates, or Canada’s open door, or any leader in between, only time will tell.

I’ve read opinions pieces by both secular and Christian writers, declaring colliding views with confidence, certain of one move or another. I would suggest that certainty of anything, in a time like this, is as reliable as blowing smoke rings. They are most certainly there, until they are not. And then you have to make new ones. Just like bubbles. Blow them, and they exist, until they don’t. Likewise with the ‘right moves’ in this… until they are not.

Not one of us can be certain of the outcome of this thing. And our country’s leaders, like every other country’s leaders, must determine what is the best action for those under their care and protection as a nation, while extending compassion. My hope is that they don’t throw caution, common sense and discernment to the wind, and that they act in the best interest of each country while not abandoning the truly needy and destitute.

So what is the Christian response at this time? I hear some cry out that the country should close all borders–surely God would–and others that it should open them wide, even at risk to our country. Maybe it is reflective of a broader societal shirt, and broader shift in Christian thinking, maybe not, but at the very least it rings of insisting that leaders–Christian or not–are not called first to protect responsibly, those in their care. And there seems an inability for some to separate the responsibility of the state, from the responsibility of each individual Christian, and Christians collectively, to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, and to love sacrificially.

And when I think about how I would want to be loved, I can say with certainty I would want to be rescued from the hell some suffer. But I can say with the same certainty that I would want it done wisely so I don’t land in the same hell somewhere else. Otherwise I have gained nothing and they have lost everything. Wisdom is crucial in the ‘how’, and I pray our leaders use that wisdom and discernment in this process.

I certainly don’t see grounds for the place some Christians are taking it, to declare that Jesus meant we are to rescue every refugee across the world, and if we are not compelled to try, then we have somehow failed to love as Christians should love. That’s a popular and unreasonable judgment on social media these days, offered by some driven by emotion and the need to put everyone in their own box of what love is and should be.  We are created uniquely, each one of us, and we love differently. But we can love well, differently. Some of us love by swinging hearts and doors wide open, throwing caution to the wind, with a short sustainability, and others love in more calculated (and sometimes more responsible) ways that are sustainable longterm. We need both views for balance.

The opposite response, of hate and closing our hearts to compassion is not the solution. What I do know with certainty, is that my role as a Christian is to be like Jesus. That is not a matter in question. Whomever God brings across my path, is who is my neighbour today. and Jesus commanded us to love our neighbour, so that is the person I will love in this moment in time, while I am with them, and embrace as my neighbour.

Should that person violate my trust and put my life at risk, I will never regret having loved them. And should they prove to be a friend, and one with whose heart I connect, and whose values–if not beliefs, religion and lifestyle–at the very least offer respect, then I will also never regret having loved them. And if they meet Jesus in me, whether they ever embrace Him or not, I will never regret having loved them.

If love means requires me to ‘lay down my life’, then that is what I need to do. And if it means to jump in front of  train track to save someone, at the risk of my own life lost, I need to do it. And if it means putting boundaries in place to protect, then that is what I need to do. Any particular and strongly touted ‘belief’, when taken to it’s ultimate end, falls flat. Some who declares ‘open the borders wide’, will not be the one to open their front door and displace their own children. And yet, that belief, taken to it’s inevitable end would require just that. And some of us would. Who is the true hero, and offers the ‘best’ love is something time will tell….

And keeping in mind that even Jesus didn’t disregard danger when confronted with it. He removed Himself from those wishing to stone Him, in John 8:59, rather than choosing to stick around and prove His love. There has to be a time for common sense, even in love. The same Jesus who said, “I send you out like sheep among wolves, so be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We’ve got the ‘harmless’ down pat, some of us non-resistant ones, but could focus on the wise as serpents part. And some have the ‘wise’ part mastered, but wish to resort to fighting with the sword.

Love is a powerful force. It is a Kingdom of God kind of force that does not fully make sense to the human mind, yet is not intended to function without thought. And each of us must express in the moment-by-moment, as believers, in the place where we walk with God today, if we want to live in the Way of Jesus.

As for Canada, and what it should do…. until I am Prime Minister–which currently looks to be a bare minimum of 4 years away, since we just had an election–it’s not my call to make. As for personal opinion–which I’ve mostly avoided throwing out there strongly–I do have strong opinions. They are somewhat true to the tone of this article; help the Syrian refugees, but at the same time use common sense and caution in the process, which I hope and (somewhat) trust my country is doing. All risk cannot be eliminated, but closing all doors to helping the most needy is a bit too self-preserving for me.

And functioning out of fear goes against my nature. From the first day, when the little boy washed ashore and I saw the hype, I said, “Even if it is a ploy to get inside the hearts of people, and thereby into our countries… and even if it is for ill-will by some, I would not say we should not help them.” But I am, by nature, a risk taker. Somewhat calculated, until I’m not. Then I just do what I believe to be right in a spontaneous moment. Which is why I even tackled this topic… because ‘calculated risk’ told me it is not wise to go there. And then when several friends called me out, I put on my mudding boots, and now here I am with my head stuck out, waiting for the hail to begin.

Nonetheless, for now I will focus on loving my neighbour… Including the Christian who sees it differently than me. That love is the only thing that will convince the world that we are the disciples of Jesus. And that love seems a lot harder to exercise than loving the refugee in a far away land. It seems less noble, less ’cause’ worthy. But it is the trademark of our relationship with God through Jesus. All other actions taken, from a faith perspective are but a racket, and a loud noise, if we don’t first exercise love in the Body of Christ.

****

The young woman left Tim Hortons. I was lost in a world of my own by that time, hearing a client’s heart; her story. Compassion easily shared with someone from my own culture, the Mennonites. We are a strong group, with powerful beliefs; some that we would be willing to die for, others not so much. And we’re divided on which ones are worth dying for, when it comes right down to it.

My day went on, as usual. Except for moments when her face flashed through my memory and I again found myself wondering, again, What would it be like to be one of them, or look like one of them, but with no desire for bloodshed and hate…. What would it be like?

And compassion awakens again in my heart, and I whisper a prayer for wisdom for our leaders to do the right thing, the compassionate thing, and also the wise thing.

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Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

Part of Healing is Learning to Think of Others

In honesty, writing a blog tonight is not easy. I could think of a thousand and one things to say, I’m sure, but all fall flat as I think about the tragedy in Paris, France. It’s a current crisis and dreadful thing for any human to suffer, ever…  And it is not a crime against one city, or one nation. It is a crime against all of us, as is every careless and violent act political or otherwise.

Inevitably, because this is a crime that does not fall into sexual victimization, my heart is drawn to the importance of taking time from our own pain and working through things, as victims of sexual violence, to think of others in pain.

Together let’s remember Paris, France, and the families and loved ones of those left behind, and stand in solidarity with them, praying for them. Remembering them doesn’t mean that sexual abuse victims are less important than victims of terrorist attacks. Nor does it minimize the pain and suffering of those who have been violated sexually, or make less glaring the wickedness of sexual violence.  One is an act of terror against the body and the country, and ultimately the world–instilling fear, causing grief  and forever changing lives of those left behind–the other is an act of terror against the mind, body and spirit–instilling fear and shame, causing grief and forever changing the life of the victim.

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There is always the risk in grief, that we forget to see the pain and suffering of others, and become so deeply lost in our own pain that it even consumes us, and robs us of a full life. So it is good to look away, every now and then, even when we are in the deepest throes of personal sorrow.

With time, we will look away most of the time, and every now and then remember what we once suffered. But until then, we have to be intentional about it.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The #SaltedCaramelMocha in a Boring Red Cup, Please… And a #MerryChristmasStarbucks…& All

I kept seeing the Starbucks red cup referenced, so this morning I did a google search to see what the hype and offense is all about, and being ‘in the know’, I decided a second blog was in order. So here it is, awkwardly sandwiched in my 30 days of acknowledging victims of sexual abuse. But then, a good cup of Salted Caramel Mocha is the perfect treat for someone going through hard times, so maybe it’s an okay diversion.

I’ll start with saying I don’t care one iota if a business advertises Christmas–or snowflakes–on their cups or not. Even if they have done it for a bajillion years, it doesn’t offend me if they stop. They put it on in the first place for advertising, not because Starbucks loves Jesus. It’s business. It’s advertising. The thing that sells is the thing they will use. We ought to have been just as offended that they used it in the first place, because Jesus and Christmas are worth more than that. But we were not offended then, and we shouldn’t be now.

And I don’t really care if people say Merry Christmas to me or not. But I do care if businesses tell people what they may and may not say, on a faith level. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech for all. At least it should be, though it seems not to be. That’s a bit different than the advertising thing, though they lump it all together. And I am exercising my freedom of speech here, even though many people won’t agree with me, and they have the right to express their opinions also. And when I go out this holiday season, I will exercise that freedom again and say Merry Christmas to everyone if I want to. And I won’t do it to offend; I will do it because I love Jesus and I love celebrating this ‘birthday’ we’ve given Him. (We don’t really know the exact day.) Odds are high they will say it back to me.

And I love all the joy, happiness, and ‘light’ of the season, so soon after the dark, black of Halloween. (Yes, I hand out candy to all the little people who show up, dressed up in their costumes. No, that’s not celebrating the dark side and it doesn’t mean I celebrate death and goblins and all that occult stuff. If you want to tackle me on that–as some already have, my email is trudy(dot)metzger(at)rogers(dot)com. Your venting won’t offend me, or make either of us more or less Christian.) And while I know the ‘spirit of the season’ will be short lived, I enjoy it for the short time when people celebrate hope, and play cheerful Christmas carols. No other time of year is Christ proclaimed unwittingly, in the way He is at Christmas. But that’s all temporary if He’s not alive within.

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In the middle of the political correctness, and the spats over advertising, I care that Jesus is so alive in my heart that He flows out of me in love, not a ‘feel good’ into me in the form of some overpriced liquid in a ‘Christmas cup’. I care that I drink deep from His cup and represent Christ so well, that those who know me or meet me want to have mass (meaning full communion) with Christ, and thereby bring Christ-mass into their personal lives. The kind that lasts an eternity and doesn’t land crumpled in the rubbish bin when the drink is all.

As for Joshua Feuerstein, and the video he created… I found his initial ‘trick’–as he calls it–witty and somewhat humorous, and if he had left it there, it would have had more impact. But then it turned into a ‘let’s show them’, which in turn makes Christians look like idiots, IMHO, and the testimony this is as Christians in the news, is a bit embarrassing. Far as I’m concerned, less advertising about Christmas takes a lot of ‘fake light’ out of the world, and the true Christ who shines in our hearts, will shine all the brighter.

We might as well rejoice when the world shows its darkness, for this very reason, so that the light of our hope sparkles more brightly in contrast. There is something about twinkling lights in the blackest of nights…. There is something about stars in the darkest hour of the night… There is something about the lights of home, when we are tired and need rest….

And there is something about the Love of Jesus Christ, when the soul is black and hopeless. His Light is Life to the searching. Hopefully, with less fake lights, some will see the True Light of Christmas and feel His Love. For ‘while we were still sinners’–wandering in black hopelessness and unworthy of Him–‘Christ died for our sins’. What a beautiful truth to come home to. What a powerful reason to celebrate Christmas in a boring red cup…

I’ll have the Salted Caramel Mocha, Venti please, in a boring red cup, minus the snowflakes. The thank you I offer, the smile on my face, the personally meaningful ‘Merry Christmas’, that’s the overflow of Christ in me.

God said in Deuteronomy, “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life.” And the Bible repeatedly tells us to ‘bless and curse not’. I choose blessing.

On that note, #MerryChristmasStarbucks! I won’t be boycotting you or trying to negatively impact your business; you have my business this year, same as every other year.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Why I Bless & Support Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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Canada said it loud and clear on Monday, “It’s time for a change!” Led by our now dynamic, charming (almost) Prime Minister, this mantra echoed through our country, with resounding finality on October 19, 2015, leading to a strong majority Liberal government. In his victory speech, his confidence–in spite of fatigue showing in his eyes–and his charismatic ‘presence’ were quite convincing. The energy was contagious, without question. But that’s not why I am choosing to bless and support our new Prime Minister…

Prime Minister Harper made many good and wise choices, and he also made choices that were not good and less wise. It’s a bummer being human. It really is. In spite of his blunders–which I’m sure I would have outdone–there was a fatherliness about him and his tone spoke of wisdom and thoughtfulness. I value those things. But Mr. Harper made some fatal mistakes, and yesterday each Canadian got to decide if the good out-weighed the bad, in their minds. The final consensus was that it did not, and that most would rather invest in a new leader, with new vision, and new passion. But Mr Harper’s mistakes are also not the reason I support our new Prime Minister…

Trudeau has made many promises–some good, some not so good–that he intends to follow through on. Some promises are compassionate-and I do think the man knows something about compassion, and certainly his wife has a very caring heart. The compassionate thing at times comes with huge cost, huge sacrifice. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we are willing and able to pay that price tag. Rahab, the harlot in the Bible, saved the lives of several of Joshua’s men, with compassion that came at huge risk to her. God honoured that compassion and spared her. Sometimes the outcome of compassion is beautiful, sometimes it is deadly. Even so, I’m not sure that we should withhold compassion because it might cost us. However, we should exercise wisdom and discernment. If I borrow $100,000 to buy a home to house a homeless family, I will be applauded, but if I cannot repay and the home is  repossessed, I will be shamed and the family worse off than before. That is something for Canada’s government to consider, because fiscal irresponsibility is important. But fiscal responsibility, or the lack thereof, do not influence whether I will bless and support our new Prime Minister….

In Christian opinion I’ve already seen reference to Sophie Grégoire, and concern over her New Age beliefs, and how they will impact our nation. Let me start by saying that I had already done some reading about her, and have to say, she is an inspiring woman. I don’t agree with her beliefs, and am not going to endorse them, but she is a very inspiring and compassionate woman. Her heart for people, her love and desire for peace and kindness are to be applauded. And, yes, I expect she will have more influence than we are accustomed to from a PM’s wife, by virtue of who she is as a person, along with what her TV personality. She is a captivating speaker, seems gracious and humble rather than arrogant and entitled. So, yes Canada, I think we will see and hear more from Sophie than we have from any other leader’s wife. But a sweet and captivating wife is not the reason I support and bless our new Prime Minister…

For all the promises, and whether Trudeau keeps them or not, and whether it wrecks our country or builds it up, and regardless of what influence Sophie has or doesn’t, and regardless of differing religious beliefs or areas we agree–should there be some–I am committed to blessing and supporting our new PM. And even when or if I do not support the things Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does, I am committed to blessing and supporting him. Because God has commanded us to pray for our leaders and honour them. My decision pretty much starts there…

But there is one more reason I will choose to bless and support him. Words have power. And as believers, our words have even more power, because the name of God is connected to them through our belief in God. So even when our words don’t line up with God, people associate them with God. And God has spoken and given direction on our words. “I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life”… “Life and death are in the power of the tongue”… “Bless and curse not!” … Choose life… choose blessing…

So I will speak words of blessing over Justin Trudeau and our country. I will hope for real change that honours God, and pray for it when I see the opposite happening. I will honour those who are in leadership over me, and trust that God will bring good to us and heal our land. Because I believe He will as we, His people, humble ourselves and repent from our own ways.

And in all that the new Prime Minister sets out to do to bring healing to our land out of his own kindness, and in things like acknowledging the incredible losses among our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, I pray that God moves and touches lives. And I pray that He blesses Justin and Sophie and their children immensely.

…Because God’s blessing and the outcome of it is a powerful thing; something not to be underestimated.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Remembering 9/11; Remembering that Love Conquers, Hate Divides

love conquers, hate divides 2It’s cloudy and dreary outside today. And it should be. Why shouldn’t the heavens grieve and mourn? For, on this day, fourteen years ago, the world changed. My country changed. I changed. A general trust in humanity, believing that most were kind-hearted and a few were corrupt to the core, shattered and gave way to suspicion, distrust and with a heightened sensitivity, all around… at least for a time.

This morning I made Mexican bread pudding, yes, that’s what I’ll call it, since I haven’t a name for it at all. And only those who have made it and loved it, will understand why I craved it in the first place. Bread, cut in slices and dried out completely, slowly toasted in the oven and cooled… Pour hot coffee over it until it is spongy, then drain coffee off and squeeze by placing another similar bowl inside, and pressing. Fluff the bread with a fork, and spread with favourite jam, and drizzle cream over it. (No, it’s not healthy. But I’ve probably done it 5 times in 20 years, so no harm done.) My father loved this food. And while it wasn’t a frequent thing, it was a favourite and every now and then, I give into the cravings. (Even though hubby says, ‘no kisses until you brush your teeth’ and generally turns up his nose at it.)

Just before I made it, I read that our very good friends, John and Cindy Yutzy, said goodbye to a father and father-in-law in the wee hours of this morning. I thought of my father in the hospital on this day, fourteen years ago, and the months that ensued before his passing. I remembered the world being rocked fourteen years ago today…

Fourteen years ago. Yet a memory that still seems etched on fresh canvas, moist to the touch…

I remember where I was, at that moment when I heard. Our daughters, then only five and six, had left for school, like every ordinary day, and Tim was at work, having started his new job at Floradale Feed Mill. (The best move ever!) Our oldest two sons, ages two and three, were home with me, oblivious to the wrongness of that day. And I was 2 months pregnant with baby number five; we had only just found out…  And my father was in Tillsonburg hospital, facing a potential amputation.

I called my friend Danette Martin that morning for one thing or another, oblivious, and she said she heard of some dreadful thing happening in New York–and mentioned a possible bombing of Twin Towers. She was trying to call her family in USA, to see if they know more, but the phone lines were overloaded and she was having trouble getting through…

We didn’t have TV at the time, and my mind was fragile, being pregnant and all. And with my dad’s health declining, my childhood story was constantly in my face. Once or twice a week I would go see dad, and sit and talk. We went places, conversationally, I had never dreamed of entering with this man; places I wouldn’t have thought possible, or even would have trusted. And, while it was healing, it also brought the terror and insecurity of the past back in my face, leaving me vulnerable. Violence and death threats…

Violence and death threats that had made me pace the floor in childhood, now made me pace with the ‘not knowing’ of this bomb, or plane crash, or whatever horrible thing had happened. In childhood I knew my ‘enemy’ and had observed from birth what drove him, why he threatened, how he thought. And, while disarming, it was an advantage. This new threat was a stranger and that stranger might come for our country, our home, our children.

As each subsequent attack was reported, I felt weak. I wandered to the couch and lay down, numb and confused. Who would do such a thing? And, more importantly, why? And where next? Were our children safe? What kind of a world had we birthed them into? I placed my hand on my abdomen, as if to protect the unborn… My mind raced…

Little by little the story unravelled, it was a terrorist attack. Osama Bin Laden, a name that would forever be associated with the darkness and terror of that day, claimed responsibility, as an Islam extremist. Conspiracy theories soon challenged that, and swore up and down the government was involved, adding to the confusion and chaos…

And that is how that part of the story remains, even now, fourteen years later. On Facebook this morning the conspiracy theories still cross my newsfeed, as does the memory of terrorist attacks. Bin Laden’s name, while blame rests heavily on him, has not. He may be associated with that dark day, but he lost the spotlight quickly. However, most importantly, the newsfeeds are filled with stories of hope, courage and recovering; of building again and uniting as a nation; of being brought together through tragedy rather than torn apart and divided.

The ripples of a day like that never really end, both good and bad. Nations have united and risen above, but we also remember the losses. Today there are thirteen year old sons and daughters, who were in the womb that day, who will never know their fathers. There are adolescents now who, as toddlers, waited for mom or dad to pick them up that day; they never came. Today there are widows and widowers–and some who have remarried and started a new life–who relive that feeling of panic and anxiety, as they waited to hear from their spouse. They relive picking up the phone and dialling, over and over again, saying “come on… come on… answer… Please! … ” and crying out to God–whether they believe in Him or not–in a desperate attempt to make their world right… But their world was never made right. That moment robbed them of something precious. But in that robbing, for most if not all, resilience was born, and people rose up with new determination.

This morning it all collides in my mind, as I stare into my bowl of Mexican bread pudding; nostalgia and painful memories blended with tears of grief and gratefulness. Life is filled with loss. Innocent trust was stolen. My dad, with whom I watched the footage of the attack for the first time, has since passed on. Today my friend’s dad passed away. And you, my readers, have crises and losses… I have losses…. And in the middle of loss, my heart finds joy and peace in one thing; the kindness of God.

What the enemy means for evil, God is using for good and for His glory. Not only does He speak hope in every dark place, He is Hope in every dark place. And with that adjusting of my focus, innocent trust comes alive again. Because my God goes before me as a shield, and behind me as a guard. I am covered. I am safe. 

He is Sovereign Over Us. The words of this song, by Michael W. Smith, comfort me, and turn my heart to the One who redeems all things.

May we never forget. Never forget the suffering of others… Never forget the courage and authority that come from standing together. Never forget that the real enemy is hatred and lies, and the one from whom those are birthed.

And may we never, never forget the kindness of God.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Finding Hope Between Gunshots, Affairs, Sex Trafficking & Wringing Hands

This week I sit here, hardly knowing how to speak hope into a dark situation. For if it isn’t about offering hope, then what purpose is there?

Sometimes the hope I present is that victims will be heard and their hearts cared for, while not over-compensating and leaving them stuck in hopeless victimization, soaking up sympathies. That’s a destruction all its own, to get absorbed in self-pity, and leaves victims lonely as hell. Sometimes the hope I present is that churches are starting to perk up and listen, and hold perpetrators of abuse accountable for their crimes and letting them face consequences, while still offering Jesus and His love and grace. But always, even in the most exposing and revealing of writings, my prayer is that truth will speak and hope will rise up in hearts of readers. And, where I ‘get it wrong’–because all of us are flawed and sinful–I pray that Truth will speak, and override my scribblings.

Looking at the scandals, the violence and the helpless wringing of hands, words don’t come so easily. It’s all a bit overwhelming. And, yet, apart from the shootings–and actually carrying out such ideation, it’s just a larger scale of the same kind of thing I deal with: people dealing with murderous thoughts and/or suicidal ideation, and hearing dark voices in their heads telling them to act out and follow through; molestation and sexual abuse–often covered up; affairs and infidelity… and children carelessly ‘pimped out’ in their own homes and churches…

And to accompany this there are usually people who want to make these things go away as fast as possible through religious lingo, cheap grace and shallow forgiveness.. The offenders, on the other hand, try to make it go away by putting blame on the victims. (My wife/husband didn’t fulfil me sexually… the child asked for the molestation and flirted with me… The people made racial slurs against me… They treated me different because I’m homosexual… She shouldn’t have been out on the street, especially not dressed like that… )

And we offer hope how?
By siding with making it go away as fast as possible, if we’re religious? Or by siding with the offenders and endorsing their faulty beliefs, or demonizing the victim? (It is the duty of a spouse to give into every sexual desire and whim of his/her partner, without a voice… If people didn’t make those racial and bigoted comments maybe Vester Lee Flanagan–Bryce Williams–wouldn’t have snapped… I saw how the little girl handled herself in a very sexual way and I can believe she did things to ask for the man to touch her… The girl shouldn’t have been so foolish as to get messed up with those people and get pimped out…)

No, we speak hope by pursing truth, both on a practical level and a spiritual level…

Truth in Marriage:
Husbands and wives are blessed, relationally, when they connect at a heart level and care for one another. Sexual intimacy is a beautifully bonding experience, when partners respect each other’s needs and desires, both sides of the equation. Being a trustworthy lover requires sensitivity to our partner, rather than using him or her without consideration. A spouse who is considerate and gives his/her partner a safe place, sexually– a place to engage or decline; a place to sacrifice personal preference by choice for the sake of the spouse–will have a more fulfilling relationship. Caring for others is always more rewarding, and truth is, barring other struggles or health issues, the partner is likely to be more responsive in bed. Simple math. That’s all that is.

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Truth in Bigotry Based on Race, Religion or Sexual Orientation:
Victims of racial/bigoted slurs or mistreatment because of homosexuality, religion or any other thing, will feel hurt. It’s human nature. And though no human has the right to attack another for their choices, their beliefs or for differences, it will happen to all of us and it is our responsibility to learn to deal well with that side of it. However, not all opposing views are attacks, slurs or bigoted. It stands to reason–if there’s much reason left in the world–that if one side expresses themselves, the other side should have the same privilege, even if it steps on toes and collides with beliefs. That is not ‘homophobia’ or ‘persecution’ or ‘bullying’. It is the expression of differing views and if you have any confidence in your point of view at all, hearing an opposing view won’t offend. The greater the offence, the more glaring the insecurity. Shooting people to make a statement is about inner rage and personal issues, not about racial slurs, job losses or other offences. I would venture a guess that it’s a narcissistic response to the consequences of personal irresponsibility.

Truth in Sex Trafficking:
Sex trafficking victims are often struggling teens, though not always, whose vulnerability is exploited by predators. In rebellion or not, to put the crimes of skilled criminals on vulnerable and immature youth, not to mention often very trusting and naive ones–and sometimes even sweet, gentle and innocent youth–is simply not right. They are victims of horrible crime and need us to do what we can to help, and to stop this evil.

Truth in Child Molestation:
And a child ‘asking for it’ when he or she is molested is just out of this world insane. That a full grown adult could say such a thing is beyond horrific. Even more so coming from a person professing Christ. Unfortunately some buy into their lies and excuse themselves based on it. I could list numerous such (current) cases, but won’t. But I will say this, when a man in his 40’s has the audacity to say, “But she wanted it”, of a girl not quite ten years old, things are going to hell in a hand basket, and fast. And in any community that accepts this as a reasonable argument, there is a lack of discernment, to say the very least. Often there’s a bit more behind it than all that, but we’ll not go there today.

Truth, Freedom & Hope:
The reality is that truth brings freedom, and the hidden thing brings death and destruction. I’ve referred to the story of Achan before, and will again, because it’s a reality that will never change. God hates the hidden thing, and He’s creative about exposing it. And when He does, we are each given the opportunity to respond with repentance and ‘owning up’, or we can push the blame, excuse ourselves or find some other way to derail responsibility.

Truth brings freedom and offers hope. And part of truth is accepting responsibility, without excuses. But hope… hope is a Promise from Heaven that is given to us, a gift from God through Jesus, when we embrace truth; all truth. And hope is the beautiful thing that makes accepting responsibility possible, without being swallowed up in shame.

Hope…

Because of what Jesus did on the cross… And He did it for the worst sinners, the likes of Josh (we all know at least some of what he did), and Noel Biderman (founder of Ashley Madison who justifies adultery and isn’t the least bit sorry)… And then there’s me… who once held a gun contemplating murder….

And maybe that’s why, even though I believe in accountability and consequences, I believe in the power of Jesus and hope to transform lives. It’s so hard to deny the existence of a precious gift I hold in my hands…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger