My wife and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We have been in ministry in one form or another together for almost as long. And according to one of my journals we have been serving with Anawim a full 8 years.
It has been a great run, but I am sensing a change in the wind.
Ya know how when a storm is drawing near, the air grows thick and sticky? There is a tension, and uneasiness. Then there is the breeze that carries the scent. Then the breeze increases in intensity and the clouds form on the horizon and the first ones are horsetails light and wispy, then the next are a bit poofy and the next are transitioning from white cotton balls to a grey that just keeps growing darker and air chills and then the first mist forms followed by small clusters of drips followed by the down pour.
We are in the air growing thick part.
Please pray with us.
For years the Anawim board has been concerned what would happen if Steve (me) would no longer be capable of leading the ministry. Everything depended on me, connections, finances, supply lines, peacemaking, etc. So we discussed what would happen if I had a stroke? Not a very comfortable conversation, but also no real answers emerged. For the last two years we took some steps to depend less on one person, and more on others, but nothing seemed to stick.
Three months ago, in August, it was clear that I was unable to continue. Something inside me had broken and I was unable to function. (If you want to learn more about this process of brokenness and what happened during these months, you can read my journal here: http://stevekimes.blogspot.com/ )
On August 11, I had reached a turning point: I could no longer lead Anawim. My path had led to a place where I could no longer continue. Having no direction from anyone, I determined this: I had a group of the homeless and formerly homeless who I was training at that time. I would give them an opportunity to take on leadership in Anawim. If they worked out, then we could talk about continuing.
I took the month of September off of everything. I rested, developed some disciplines to improve my physical, mental and spiritual health. I left Anawim in the hands of those trained, not only seeing if they could do the work without me, but also see if they could deal with the inevitable crises without me. If I found that I couldn’t do any of the work anymore, or if the new workers couldn’t bear the burden, then Anawim would end.
At one point in my month off, I whined to the Lord. It’s good to do that, once in a while, just to see what He replies. I was whining about the difficulty of the work, with so few people to help, to donate, and so many people to tell you that you’re doing it wrong or caring for the wrong people. The Lord replied, “Just stand back and see what happens.”
As a leader, I forget that part of the process of leading is letting go. If we want to teach our kid how to walk, we guide them by the hand, but we have to let them walk on their own. Yes, they will fall. And fail. Maybe they will hurt themselves. But until you aren’t there anymore, they don’t learn to go on their own.
I don’t feel that Anawim was ready for this time of homeless leadership until this year. A core group of leaders just weren’t there (I could be wrong, but that’s how it seemed to me). It was always my ideal to let the everyday work be done by those receiving the most. And to give the poor the true reigns of the work, to let them make the decisions.
And now, only because of my own weakness as a human being, my limited capacity displaying itself at the right time, we have it. We are a self-sustaining unit (except financially… but in time, we will.) The work is continuing and no one else has to burn the candle at both ends.
All the neighbors that were complaining and afraid of our homeless folks have now good things to say about our work.
The city wants to work with us, as does our larger church organization.
I no longer fear for the future of Anawim. The Lord is as good as his promise. If someone had told me, “You know in two months this and this would happen,” I would have laughed at them.
That’s the way God’s work is. The laughable comes true right when you least expect it.
help me help my wife
Four cars stopped along the curb and the drivers got out and approached the elder. Each driver, produced a wad of bills and gave him a hug along with the money.
All were crying, including me for I was the 5th driver who didn’t have any money on me to give……then the drivers all climb back into their cars and drove away.
The elder was putting away his sign as I pulled up and the light turned red.He glanced over and saw me still crying, smiles and nodded to me.
I roll down my window and he says,”Its okay……God provided all I need”.
The light changes and I wave, still too choked up to talk and I drive on.
I put on compassion.
I put on patience.
I put on gentleness
I put on a listening that heals.
I put on rejoicing in others.
I put on forgiveness.
I put on healing the sick.
I put on delivering the insane.
I put on comforting the needy.
I put on giving to the poor.
I put on lowering myself.
I put on declaring justice.
May I create peace where there is no peace.
May I create hope where there is no hope.
May I create a place of mercy for all who are in need.
May I make a sanctuary for those whom “the world” means only pain.
Lord purge our eyes to see
within the seed a Tree;
within the glowing egg a bird;
within the shroud a Butterfly-
till taught by such,
we see beyond all creatures,
Sow everywhere the good seed is given you.
Sow in the good ground.
Sow in the sand.
Sow amongst the stones.
Sow amongst the weeds.
Perhaps some of the seeds will open
up and grow and bring forth fruit, even if not at once.
-Sereaphim of Sarvour, a Russian Monk
Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude.
The spiritual blindness that prevents us from appreciating
the wonder that is this world.
The endless cycle of nature,
Of the life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving,
Reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see, our lips to praise, and our hands to share.
May our feet tread lightly on the the path we tread,
An our footsteps be worthy of the following,
For they all lead to you.
It is written that the prayers of the righteous availeth much.
Lord through your power all things were made.
Through your wisdom all things are governed.
Through your grace all things sustained.
Give us power to serve you,wisdom to discern your
laws and grace to obey them at all times.
-Edmund of Abingdon