Over the past year and few months since my heart attack the Lord has been continually working in my life. I’ve had the opportunity through time and prayer to align myself closer to the teachings of Jesus. This has involved changes that have been freeing for me. It has also demanded life changes.
To study the Bible is to give God permission to change you. A serious student of God’s Word does not study to gain facts but to arrive at truth. Jesus is truth (John 14:6). I chose to cease professional affiliation with my denomination due to doctrinal issues. My struggle with these issues goes back many years. I sought counsel from those on both sides as to what I should do. I was violating my conscience, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the Bible. I had to come to the hard truth that I was fighting a battle of inner hypocrisy.
When I was pastoring full time I taught that we needed to be an influence on the culture around us. After retiring I knew it was my responsibility to get involved in a local church and the community. God used my illness to direct me to what He was wanting to do in my life. I had to quit the chaplaincy that I initially was involved with in order to recover. The Lord was showing me it was time to step out of traditional ministry roles in order to reach those who needed to hear about Jesus.
The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. People from around the world immigrate here for a better life. We are also a nation who accepts refugees. Refugees are different from immigrants. According to the UNHCR a refugee is “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” There are currently 25 million refugees world wide.
One of their greatest needs is learning English. It is nearly impossible to acquire employment if you cannot speak or read the language. I knew I could tutor English. I received certification to tutor ESL through the Minnesota Literacy Council and I’m now involved not only with a school district but also with a statewide ministry to immigrants and refugees.
These are powerful changes that Christ used to bring me great joy in serving Him. We can do more. We have missed the mark if we think that ministry only takes place within the church building.
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Mt 25:37–40). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.