Recognizing and unmasking the face of “broken”…
By: Maddie Jomolca
In 1775, American general and statesman-Christopher Gadsden designed an American flag with a yellow field and rattle snake ready to strike which read: “Don’t Tread on Me” (or I’ll strike!) This phrase can be found on the back windows of cars and trucks across this beautiful nation, and stands for personal freedoms and liberties, and is a message to anyone that tries to take them away. Since then, several, similar designs have emerged in mockery, containing different messages such as that of a banana peel depicting the pitfalls (pun intended!) of poor or unsound leadership.
While its message can be viewed by some as merely “patriotic”, its meaning carries a far more severe connotation of threat than we care to recognize. It is this very significance or implication that is taking place in the very heart of today’s outreach centers, ministries, and modern church.
Over the course of the years it’s become more and more evident in today’s society that many spiritual-ministry leaders across the globe, too fearful of stepping outside of their self-created boundaries, have negated many an opportunity, responsibility, in truth, to not only recognize, but to further lift others out of the trenches of their brokenness. I must emphasize that, while there is no specific protocol or criteria; many simply and sadly cannot recognize the face of brokenness, and so they instead, go about their daily lives clinging to their ministry of choice. Yet, in truth; what good does it do any of us to speak of the poverty and injustices occurring in distant lands, when so much destitute resides in “our own back yards”, so-to-speak. In fact, it is right under our noses, at our dinner tables, living rooms, neighboring towns and in our church pews.
“Broken” has a new face, and it not always found in the ‘obvious”. It has become obscured, masked even, by fear of judgment, and negligence. It is the face of the newcomer who you grudgingly failed to invite into your home and bible study group. It is the face of that woman or man, struggling financially, merely wanting to serve, who you pushed aside because you could simply did not find the time or resources for them outside of your ministry. It is the face of that single-mom who would so humbly accept a job for which she was over-qualified, because she was hauling a mountain of debt, and has mouths to feed. It is in that neighbor residing alone in that six-bedroom, four-car-garage home, whose desolate life is so seemingly perfect. How many times can we look past that which is so glaringly obvious, the hurt and pain around us, before we finally realize that it (how,why and who we serve) is simply not about us?
In a recent conversation with a woman who leads a global women’s ministry for whom I have great respect, and who’s gained some public recognition and spotlight over the years, in referring to a past experience, she proudly uttered these words to me: “you have to understand that so many people have and continue to use my name and my ministry’s name to get ahead or as a reference, that I am fearful and guarded about my contacts.” While I understood her, or attempted to in any event, I could not help but also feel a great sense of shame for her. How silly, in fact, how irrevocably pompous of her… of any of us, to believe that our friendships, our relationships, our contacts, our connections, our calling are/is merely our own doing! Similarly, I learned of another girls’ ministry leader who, instead of welcoming and encouraging her skills as an asset to her organization, resoundingly refused to hire a single mother in dire need of work, because “her experience was too great, and she feared that this mother would inadvertently step on toes’… namely, her own! Ironically, this same woman, who leads a girls-to-young-women’s pregnancy outreach, providing young single mothers with shelter, food, and employment opportunity, had, knowingly or not, become the primary basis for preventing and inhibiting this mother from the same prospect.
Listen- we do not choose our ministry… Our ministry [God] chooses us! God purposely and deliberately allows each of us to walk through the fire, not for our own public acclaim, but that He might be glorified!
We are NOTHING!… Christ is EVERYTHING– and it is, subsequently, only through and by the power in Him that we can DO. It is not your ministry, my ministry, our ministry… It is HIS ministry. WE, collectively and individually, are HIS ministry!
The bible encourages us 2 Timothy to lead faithfully and fearfully. Timothy, a pastor within the very pagan city of Ephasus, was highly disregarded because of his young age. Paul, who was his friend and mentor, was imprisoned several miles away and wrote him, not to reprimand him or stall him into waiting for him, but to encourage him to use his God-given gifts with a passion.
We need to be a discerning people. A spirit-lead people who can see past the obvious and into the hearts of those around us, as Christ did, and does… A people that burn to see and know the love of Christ spilled over into the souls of the nations, (young, old, rich and poor) for generations to come.
… The very nature of God, is love, and we need leaders that will lead, not by fear or within the confines self-created borders and boundaries, but out of love and God-given vision. Leaders, who will, like Paul, encourage others to faithfully and fearlessly use their God-given gifts. We need leaders willing to look far and beyond the overt, unmask the evident, and exhaust all measures in their efforts to reach a hurting world.
So the next time you begin to type up that newsletter delineating your wonderful outreach and efforts, head off to paint that homeless shelter, or send off those care packages to Nigeria or Pakistan, you might stop to ask yourself if there’s someone in your midst who might be in need of a little care… a little ‘treading” -in Christ.
“Until the whole world hears”…
ignite. incite. INSPIRE.
Madeleine “Maddie” Jomolca
Editor-in-Chief – Inspired