Friday, June 20, 2008

Dzenme pan?

That's Chinese for "What to do?" What am I supposed to do with my new insights on what a missional church should look like, what Christ-like community truly is? What do I do with insights on true transformational leadership? Where do I go from here?

I take one step at a time. Make changes in the way I do life. Which is hard, since some of these ways are habits which are hard to break. Listen more. To God and those around me. Listen more. Speak less. Ask more questions. Take one step at a time. Read more. Interact. Ask questions of that which I'm reading. As God what he wants me to do as a result of that which I'm learning.

My reading pile hasn't gone down at all since I've been back in Cedar Rapids. As much as I wish I can set aside more time for reading and starting work on my next class project, I know that I'm doing what God's asking me to do right now. I'm going to where the people are, taking Christ to them through taking meals to their homes while they're cleaning, sorting through the devastation the river had left behind.

Choosing to read during this critical time would be to miss the point completely.

Instead, at this time, I shall listen. And at times when I don't hear well, I'll follow my friends who've sensed God laying ways on their hearts in which they can serve. We're all pretty overwhelmed at this stage. And cranky at times. Forgetful. On the edge.

And we've not even lost all we have in the flood.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it feels like to have lost everything... As we were driving around Danette's childhood neighborhood, handing out sandwiches and treats to very weary neighbors, one lady stood there, clutching this small, wooden plaque. A man (her husband?) who had retrieved a shotgun from the mud tried to console her. "We can get it cleaned..." She just kept staring at it, shaking her head in unbelief.

What does one say in such a case? The entire hour or two that we drove around, handing out refreshments, I just kept telling people, "I'm so sorry." "God bless you" seemed an odd thing to say as we drove off.

I am sorry. I truly am. When I walked out of my house in February to leave for class in Ethiopia, I honestly wasn't sure if I'd ever see my house again. Or any of my stuff. Homes were being burned in my neighborhood. Nothing, and no-one was safe. I left with just a bag with the most important stuff. And clothes for the class in Addis, of course.

But I came home to a place still perfectly in tact. So I cannot understand what thousands of families are feeling. Most left with just a few things, believing the river might flood by a foot or five. Some of those home were completely submerged.

"We're in this together," reads the billboard at Theater Cedar Rapids. They, too, were under water.

Amen. We are indeed in this together. Most people in town seem eager to help out, to donate time, skills, money, clothing.

It's so different from the devastation I saw in Kenya earlier this year, when neighbors turned on one another, burning one another's homes... Somehow, I think a flood might be easier to recover from.

What should I do? Continue to listen. Speak when God says. Be quiet otherwise. Learn all I can. Teach when God says I should. Or simply serve, and learn by getting dirty.


  1. I can't even imagine how hard that must be. On both sides, the ones who lost everything and the ones who are trying to help!