A Message from Doug and Pam Nuenke
The past couple weeks we’ve had some spring snow storms here in Colorado, with accompanying clouds. Between my normal day job, stress from the pandemic, being in lock-down for a month, and the extra cloudiness – I found myself weary, feeling down, and hoping for LIGHT- for the sun to come out!
And I know I’m not alone. Our world is hurting amidst the pandemic, dealing with loss and uncertainty. They want hope and light in some form!
There may be no more important time to bring the hope of Jesus to our communities than right now. While we may be able to get out of the house before too long – people are still weary, many have lost jobs, or have gone through trauma of some kind.
I believe we may never experience more open doors to the hope of Jesus than we are during these days! Stories from ministries all around the world are telling of people coming to Christ and open to growing more deeply in Him!
Some of you listening today are needing a helping hand and someone to listen to you and help you find wholeness. We encourage you to reach out for help from people in your church or community. If you are a staff member, be sure to take advantage of the help our Staff, Development and Care department provides.
But many of us have the opportunity to bring hope and help into the vulnerable places of people’s lives who are right around us … And that’s something Navigators do!
You might remember the shortest verse in the Bible – “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). But there’s more to the story! The story of Jesus, the village of Bethany and his friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha may be the most tender story in the gospels. And it may also be the greatest example of how hope can touch a whole community.
Here’s the story as told in John 11. Not far from Jerusalem, in the small village of Bethany, Jesus’ good friends Mary and Martha were concerned. Their brother Lazarus was very sick. Many miles away, Jesus was ministering on the other side of the Jordan river. Mary and Martha sent news to Jesus:
“Lord, the one you love is sick.” A few verses later we read, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” These were good friends, and a village Jesus knew well. And this was an emotional season in the lives of that village… and it was about to get even more emotional – because before Jesus arrived back to Bethany – Lazarus had died.
As Jesus walked into the village, he entered a place similar to our neighborhoods – a place filled with the weight of uncertainty – of loss, of pain.
Many people from all around the Jerusalem area had come to comfort Martha and Mary. The town was packed with mourning friends. And compassion empowered Jesus to wade into a tough situation, one filled with grief.
Martha met Jesus at the edge of town. They conversed and Martha made a proclamation of faith in Jesus right there. Then Martha got her sister Mary who rushed to see Jesus (still on the edge of town). When their visitors in their home saw her get up so quickly – they all followed her out to where Jesus was.
When Jesus saw this community weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:33-36)
Jesus then raised Lazarus from the dead. But as amazing as that is, Lazarus’ being raised is NOT the main subject of the story! It’s a story of a community of men and women coming to faith and growing in relationship with the Messiah!
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” (John 11:45).
In our neighborhood, God is active, even during this pandemic! I believe He is working to grow the faith of our friends and neighbors in the midst of this troubling and uncertain time. Our neighbors have found creative ways to encourage one another and relate in community, even as we are physically distanced.
Two families on our street took their kids and with sidewalk chalk put personalized messages of hope and encouragement on the sidewalks by each driveway. Every driveway in our double-cul-de-sac was given encouragement from people of faith.
Then, one believer invited the neighborhood to a “Dance Party” – where everyone brought music out on their driveways and danced and greeted one another from a safe distance. Lots of love was passed around that evening.
One evening Pam and I bought desserts from a locally owned restaurant we are trying to support, and delivered them to some of our neighbors.
Our neighborhood, and especially the believers who meet for our neighborhood bible study, are pulling together during this weighty time. All of us on our street are growing together through mutual encouragement. And it’s rippling out through more and more people. Some of these neighbors know that it’s the Lord Jesus that is prompting some of us to act, and many more are being loved in Jesus’ name.
Just as Jesus compassionately stirred the community of Bethany to faith in their darkest hour, so too He can work among and through each of us now.
Could it be – that His people were raised up in the 21st century, for such a time as this? Jesus called His people, “the light of the world.” During these cloudy days, the light of Jesus can be seen in shafts of light piercing the dark worlds of our friends, neighbors and family members. Let’s be letting our light shine!