In the coming days I am going to spend some time recounting the blessings as well as the challenges of back2school 2014 with you, and this is a time where it is pretty easy to see what God is doing. There are many opportunities ahead for all of us to serve people we encounter.
Psalm 34:8 NLT
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
One of the brightest parts of the weekend and our event was having Manny Ohonme as our special guest. Manny and his wife, Tracie, started Samaritan’s Feet International in 2003 which is an organization seeking to serve 10 million children around the world by washing their feet and giving them new shoes. All the while they and their countless team members are sharing the hope found in Jesus with those they serve.
Several years ago a friend of mine, Ron Pegram, went to work with Manny and encouraged us to add shoes to our back2school outreach that had been going for a couple years at this point. The rest is history, as the old saying goes. It really has been a huge blessing to partner with Manny, and this is our first year for him to be with us in our outreach event.
As Manny shared in our celebrate service on Sunday night he gave us three kingdom principles that are so true, pointed to challenge us and eye opening if we will be honest. I will share these principles, and then I hope to give you some verses and thoughts.
1. You cannot change what you avoid.
2. You cannot complain about what you tolerate.
3. You cannot impact what you run from.
Joshua 1:9 NLT
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I know lots of people who have chosen to avoid things rather than confront them. It really is easy to allow things to just happen or sweep them under the rug. Yet when we compromise, we end up helping the negative get worse. If we want to make a difference in the lives of people, we cannot keep on avoiding things.
Complaining is something I deal with on a daily basis, and this is one of those things that tick me off. I believe that we ought to seek answers when we share problems or issues, but some people are just going to complain about everything. By tolerating wrong we miss more opportunities to be a catalyst of good and change.
Finally, take note of what you or others run from. This is one note that Manny shared that I cannot stop thinking about. I dislike confrontation. Yet I have seen myself and many others run from difficult situations which let to even more difficulties. Digging deeper into problems and in to pain, we have to stop running and start facing challenges, big and little ones, wrong and right ones.
My prayer is that we would continue to make a difference in our community. Manny shared, “if your community is not a better place because you are there, you better ask why you are there.” God called us to make a difference. The back2school outreach for seven years has made a difference and will continue. At least five people accepted Jesus as their Savior on Saturday. Almost 2,000 students and their families heard about Jesus and the hope and life He has for them.
To make a difference we have to deal with our challenges head on and ask God to use us to make a difference now and in the future!
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.