Building Together

I have enjoyed reflecting upon our new Covenant Vision during February.  Thank you to our Special Ops Team for designing the devotional.

Covenant’s vision is to be a Christ-centered church where our love for God is evident in all that we do.  Our vision is to be a growing church, living as exemplary followers of Jesus Christ, viewing the world biblically, making disciples intentionally, and serving the Church faithfully in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our vision is to be a church known in the community for open doors, acts of grace, God-centered worship and growing leaders. This family of faith envisions each of us loving and ministering to all people whom God brings into his or her presence.

Several phrases have enriched my spiritual growth.  “Living as exemplary followers of Jesus Christ…making disciples intentionally…to be a church known in the community for open doors, acts of grace,….loving and ministering to all people whom God brings into his or her presence.”

As we embark on a new Habitat house (see schedule on page 3) I have been thinking about our vision.  Building a house for a family, joining with others in this work, …these are ways in which we live out God’s vision for us.

First I would like to thank Nes Cumings for stepping up once again to lead our construction effort.  As I have said, we need someone who actually knows how to build a house, and Nes has served as Habitat construction leader many times.  Thank you also to Tom Cummings (and Cheryl who made our poster) for service as our volunteer organizational leader.  Thank you to Richard Brooks, our new part-time Assistant Pastor, who is guiding this process and connecting with our “build partners.”  I am excited that we will be joining with several other churches and the Islamic community.

Last week someone asked me why we are engaging with the Islamic community.  A good  question, which led to a fruitful conversation.  Let me share four reasons why we have invited the Islamic community to work with us.  First, Jesus called us to “go and make disciples of all nations (people groups).” J. Dudley Woodberry, Professor of World Mission and Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, stated, “As Christians, we are enjoined to love God and people.  Part of the love of both is sharing the gospel, drawing more people to God through Jesus Christ.  Muslims are people—they are people God loves.  It’s not that God will love them when they become Christians; God loves them now.  We are called to do the same.  How can we love them if we don’t know them?”  The first reason is to engage with the Muslim community in such a way that we would be winsome witnesses for Jesus Christ.  It is my hope that the Muslims who join with us will walk away thinking, “These Christians are wonderful, gracious people.”  Just maybe, we will plant a seed.  Second, I hope we who serve in this ministry will discover Muslims who are people just as we are.  They love their families and friends and are trying to live as nobly as they can.  I’m reminded of an iconic line in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, “I think there’s just one kind of folks.  Folks.” Our eyes might be opened so that we may challenge some of the hatred we hear.  Third, I hope we will be a winsome witness to our community, examples of people who value reconciliation between diverse cultural groups.  Fourth, I hope we might be the ones who make a difference in a Muslim’s life.  I recently read an article by Yazmin Ali, a Muslim– American woman.  Her father is Muslim; her mother is an evangelical Christian.  She has experienced nasty looks, distrust and even hatred from strangers because she wears the traditional hijab (head covering).  According to FBI statistics, hate crimes decreased for all categories of victims except Muslims.  It is precisely these kind of hate crimes that could cause someone to withdraw from society and radicalize.  I like to think my personal conduct with Muslims, conveying acceptance and friendship, will make our society safer for all.

I hope you will join our team to build this house and/or bring snacks on Saturday.  Our goal is to involve over 100 people from Covenant.  Invite a work colleague or a neighbor. Come as a couple.  Join your child (must be 16 years of age) for a Saturday morning work session.  Help us make a difference in our community.

Blessings,

Hal