Faith, HOPE, and Love

13 10 2009

Hey guys,

Here are some thoughts for you this week:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Heb. 11:1

In looking at it there appears to be, according to this verse, two different aspects of faith.

The first: being sure of what we hope for

The second: certain of what we do not see

I think personally I’ve found it pretty easy to follow the second aspect faith here.  I have no problem trusting in a God that I cannot see, in a Savior that died for me with a love I do not understand, and equipping me with the Holy Spirit that guides me, sometimes in ways that I don’t see.  For me, I can do that.  Maybe that’s more difficult for other people to do, but for me I’ve known that kind of faith for a long time.  But then I stop and look at that first aspect of faith in this verse and I kind of get stumped. 

Being sure of what we hope for.  Hope…

What do I hope for? 

Can you answer that question?

What is hope?  Do I have hope?  What does that mean?   One definition of hope that I found is: not wishful thinking but a firm assurance.  Over and over again we see in scripture that hope is often connected to two other Christian virtues…faith, hope, and love.  They go together, almost like you can’t have one without the other two.  Like you can’t have a vibrant faith life without an active hope in what God is going to do, which gives you the ability to then love unconditionally. 

Paul writes to the Colossian believers:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already   heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

The faith and love that springs from hope.  A hope that comes from the truth of the gospel, that bears fruit all over the world.

You know I’ve had the chance to go to Kenya now twice and both times God has blessed me richly by His people there and the view of how big His Kingdom really is.  I feel like the Kenyans have such a different faith than I do.  They have so little materialistically, and so much spiritually.  I get jealous and it’s hard to come home to our world of things and noise and stuff.  It makes you feel guilty and question the depth of your own faith when you are with them.  And the more I thought about it, the more I started to see that maybe it’s because they have such a deeper understanding of hope than I do.  And that deepens their faith richly.

I want to tell you a story about a lady I met in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on our trip to Kenya this last May.  I think our trips into Kibera were some of the most memorable moments of our trip.  The Kibera slum is one of the largest slums in the world.  There are estimated 1.5 million people living in a 2.5 square mile area.  Its poverty like I had never seen before. Images I’d only seen on TV and in movies but never with your own eyes.  And in this place, the Kenyan Friends are doing ministry.  Some of you may have heard of the Lindi Friends school which is located in Kibera.  There are actually four Village Meetings in the Kibera slum, Lindi is one of them and another Meeting that also has a school that we were able to visit is called Mashimoni Friends.  They are basically funded by their own people in the Meeting and the small school fees that the children can pay.  They recently received a grant to purchase a water tank which will provide them with needed clean water for the school and also be a source of income and ministry to the people around them in need of clean water.  It was truly a joyous place to visit.

It was here that I met Lillian.  Lillian is the head teacher at the Mashimoni Friends School.  She and one other teacher manage anywhere from 30-40 children every day.  And she has been at the school for seven years, which is a long time for these teachers.  They often don’t get paid if the students are unable to pay their school fees.  There is no prestige or honor in working at this school, no potential for growth or advancement.  It is a ministry that she has been committed to longer than any of the other teachers and staff at the school.  She has four children of her own, they are now grown and out of the house.  She is married, and her and her husband live in Kibera.  At any one point she has 10 of the school children that come and live with her in her home, five of which are total orphans (or children that have lost both of their parents).  When I asked her about her job she smiled a very humble and precious smile, and she said she loves her job and feels it’s such a blessing to be able to do God’s work and see Him in each one of the children. 

I’m was amazed at this woman.  Such a clear calling and vision to fill the needs around her.  Such patience with so much to do and so little to do it with.  Such hope in a God who provides and guides her every day as well as the children she works with.  And everywhere we went we met Kenyan believers who had dynamic hope in their Lord which fueled the fire of their faith.  There are many other stories to tell, such as this church we went to who had, only the day before, erected their church building out of sticks and mud, where before they had just been meeting under a tree nearby down the street.  The day before we arrived they all pitched in brought sticks and helped put up this structure for us to worship in.  Or the wonderful people at the HIV/AIDS clinic at the Kaimosi Hospital who tell heart-breaking stories of children and women who are in desperate need of their life-saving treatment but often come inconsistently for various reasons and the staff work diligently to accommodate their needs and provide for them as best as possible with little resources and money.

It gives you perspective. 

I feel blessed to have been able to travel again to Kenya and for the perspective God gave me while I was there.  I’m trying to not forget this picture of hope that I saw in the eyes and hearts of the Kenyan believers.  And I think I need reminding of that particularly now.  Our country and our society have seen some harder times than we’re used to.  Our families are struggling.  Our Yearly Meeting is in crisis.  And in the midst of it all we are called to be people of faith.  People who are sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  That we don’t forget that what Jesus did on the cross was enough…that nothing more is needed and that we are called, just like Lillian, to do God’s work and bring the reality of the Gospel into the lives of His children.  That is where we find hope and that is how we are to live out our faith. 

Please pray for Western Yearly Meeting this week.  We have a special called Admin. Council meeting this Saturday and one of the items on the agenda is a possible redemptive separation within WYM.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to guide this meeting.  This is your Yearly Meeting.  Please, please pray!

To the King!

Katy

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