Monday, January 3, 2011

MY HOPES FOR THE NEW YEAR

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23, NIV)

While it's estimated that only 40-45% of Americans make one or more New Year's resolutions, the turning of the annual calendar is intrinsically a time of great hope.  A person can't help but look to the months ahead with promise.  It's like getting a fresh start at life with endless possibilities every 12 months!

As I pondered this time of year, I ruminated on what I'd like to see happen in 2011, especially in regards to this ministry.  For those of you who don't know the SNAPPIN' story, the organization was formed as a result of God's calling, not my personal endeavor.  It is missional rather than vocational.  I truly believe that the Lord has sent me to do the work we do here, and that is what keeps me going.

However, I will admit to you that this is often a very thankless job.  In a culture where people are looking for feel-good causes, largely centered around children, ministering to those who care for the children often goes unsupported.  Aside from working hard to get people outside of the community to catch the vision, donate or volunteer, there is the heavy work of lifting the downtrodden to a place of hope.  Convincing parents that God cares about them and their children, connecting them to resources and training them to become empowered but courteous advocates is no small order!

Even so, if only people could see the tears of joy from the families I connect with when they realize that they're not alone, perhaps they would be as motivated as I am in this high calling of mine.  If people could only see the huge difference small acts of kindness to these families make, maybe they would stop paying lip service, roll up their sleeves to help and end my frustration.  I stilled haven't figured out what it would take for empathy to click on in people's heads, imagining if they were in a similar position with a challenged child, unable to attend church, feeling isolated.  If the church could only see how much fun and how close to the glory of God including these families in every aspect of their programming is, perhaps scoffers would begin thinking that we actually believe what we say.

What are my hopes for the new year?  My eager wish is that people would talk less and serve more, realizing we're ALL busy, but many hands make light work.  I'd like to see people put their money where their mouths are.  Fewer platitudes and more donations would prove that believers actually understand that they are only stewards of the good gifts God grants them.  It would be terrific to have more parents spreading the word that there's help out there and that the Lord is sending His love to them in very tangible ways, adding to our numbers and ending the isolation of even more parents.  How amazing it would be if this year churches actually started getting over their discomfort and sought out para-church ministries like ours to learn how they can be doing more to include kids with special needs and their families! 

There are more dreams that God has placed on my heart that I cherish.  They are big dreams, hopes of larger national influence and working shoulder to shoulder with others as we laugh and cry in the mission of transforming minds.  But those larger visions will never come to fruition until both the church and the "tolerant" public actually live what they spout off about, understanding that each human person deserves encouragement, respect and compassion.  May God bless us all with forward movement in this area in 2011!

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