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Monday, July 28, 2014

Pastorgraphs: "Over There, Over There"

E-Vangel Newsletter
July 28, 2014

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: "Over There, Over There"

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. When the USA declared war on Germany in April 1917, George M. Cohen wrote “Over There”, the battle-cry song for World War I. His verses reflected the patriotic fever that if only “The Yanks are Coming” it would be a short and successful outing. The war to end all wars turned out to be one of the bloodiest and most costly wars ever.

It occurred to me we Christians seem to have an “Over There” mentality, too. It was never so glaringly apparent than how attitudes exposed themselves toward the children refugees of Central America. I’m sure many of those protesting the presence of these children are church-going folks who would support child relief efforts anywhere around the word. Just not in our own back yard.

You see, it is very convenient to help the sick and the poor – at a distance. But when it comes too close for comfort, a different attitude toward charity emerges.

This is not new. The church has supported missions around the world much more than missions at home. That includes both evangelism and social action. For the past two centuries, American Christians have sent thousands of missionaries to faraway places. No doubt we have given billions of dollars to “foreign missions”. That was an easy sell as it gave an almost romantic sense of accomplishing the great commission to “go ye into all the world…” Everyone enjoys hearing missionaries on furlough speak about their work in spreading the good news “over there”. And well we should.

We must have done a much better job of missions over there than over here at home.
For decades now, membership and participation in American Christian churches has been in decline. Fortunately, Christianity is growing, even abounding, over there in Africa, South America and Asia. Some of those Christians are now sending missionaries over here! And it looks like we desperately need them.

But when mission and ministry gets a little too close for comfort, you see a different attitude. Remember, a few years ago we began serving meals from Christ United Methodist. It did not take long for our neighbors to let us know it was not OK with them to have the hungry, homeless, helpless and hurting “over here”. “Feed the hungry anywhere else, just not in my back yard,” many said.

If you look around Christ Ministry Center, or view the images rotating on our website, you will see that the world has already come “over here”. We are honored to be home to multiple “foreign” churches, including Haitian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Latin American, Marshall Islanders, etc. Plus we support charitable organizations who do incredible caring ministries in other countries, including Russia and numerous locations in Africa.

I’m grateful for missions, missionaries and the support Americans have given. I plan to continue supporting missions, whether in Russia, Haiti, Africa or San Diego. But let’s not kid ourselves. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. What we do, and how we respond when confronted with anyone in need will go on our PERMANENT RECORD! 

A reminder: The Good Samaritan got down and dirty to help the wounded man in the ditch, even if it was too close for comfort, an inconvenience, or the result of his own foolish actions. He tended the nasty wounds and committed to pay the caregiver whatever it cost to restore the man to health. It was the religious, the pious, who pretended not to see him, who turned their backs or passed by on the other side.

With apologies to George Cohen, I would offer a Christian chorus to his famous song:

Over here, over there,
Send the word, send the word to all “We care!”
That the Church is helping, the Church is caring
Good news for all is everywhere.

So prepare, say a prayer,
Hear the word, Hear the word that we care -
Whether waiting, or we're coming,
We won't be done till your needs are won,
Over here, and over there.

In Christ’s Service, Bill Jenkins

From The Quote Garden:
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~ Christian Nestell Bovee ~

Photo Credit: Fotolia – royalty paid

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