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An Unlikely Source of Hope

The worst day of my life was the best day of my life.

It was the day I learned that hope can come from the most unlikely source.

It was a travel day. Though notorious for its hazards, I’d always been fine when traveling on this path. Until this particular day.

One moment I was walking upright. The next, I was face-planted into the ground, choking on dust. I was viciously beaten and kicked. My clothes were stripped off and everything I had with me was stolen.

I don’t know how long I lay there, floating in and out of consciousness. I discovered that one could shiver underneath the blazing sun rays.

At some point, I heard footsteps. I cracked an eye open to see a minister’s robes. Finally, my help had come!

Except he did nothing.

He didn’t even check to see if I was breathing. In my haze, I was confused. Why would the minister not help me? He’s not blind; he can see that I’m unable to help myself. It sounded like he actually ran away from me. He did not represent the same God that He taught about in church.

Later, I heard more footsteps. I caught a glimpse of a church worker’s clothing. Surely he came to help me.

But instead, he did not a thing. This must be the new standard in churches. Do nothing when people are in need.

Well, I give up! I’m about to die under this hot sun. If was a lost cause with my own church people then I must not be worth saving. No one wants me.

God, if You’re still there, please take me now, I pleaded.

After some time, I heard sounds. Great! I’m about to be trampled to death by a wild animal. Wait—there’s also a man. A third person has come to look at me before turning away.

This man is hovering, rather than leaving.  I don’t recognize his clothes. His scent is distinct though.

Uh oh! It’s a Samaritan. This is the worst day ever!He probably came to finish me off. What a humiliating way to die. I have no energy to resist even him.

Another set of smells. It’s—owwwwww!!!! I winced. Is this what death feels like? Hang on a minute–this Samaritan guy is cleaning me up. He is actually helping me. Doesn’t he know that our people don’t ever mix?

He’s mumbling something. If my head didn’t hurt so badly, I’d think he was praying for me.

Wherever I am, it’s much cooler now. It’s dark and I’m in a bed. I laid eyes on my rescuer.

It IS a Samaritan. Oh boy! What are people going to think when they hear just who helped me.

How can I twist this story? I can’t exactly lie about the minister or the church official. But could I lose my job, my friends, because this other guy helped me out?

He did help me out, didn’t he? No one else stopped, but this man. He didn’t even torture me first. Instead, he tended to my wounds and brought me to safety.

He saved my life. Wow! I didn’t know that these people were the compassionate type. Those are not the stories I grew up hearing about Samaritans.

I wouldn’t have learned the truth had I not been lying on that roadside.

When I was flat on my back feeling completely hopeless, the hope of rescue came in an unexpected manner.

Wow, God! I guess You really are there. Thank You for sending help. You care about all kinds of people, even Samaritans. I learned something new about You, God.

Turns out that this was the best day of my life.

(adapted from Luke 10:30-37)

Pastor’s Appreciation

The idea of a formal Clergy Appreciation began in the early 1990s. Using 1 Timothy 5:17 as a foundation, it soon became a widely-recognized holiday, also referred to as Pastor’s Appreciation. Churches and congregations are encouraged to do what the Bible says, to respect those who work hard in the church.

During our November 11 worship service, our head elder formally recognized and publicly thanked Pastor Josué and his family for his work at Henderson Highway Church. In addition to prayer, they were gifted with family memberships for Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Manitoba Museum.

The congregation was invited to participate as well, over the next 30 days. Volunteers selected a date ranging from November 13 through to December 12. The back of the card read:

“Thank you for praying for Pastor Josué and his family today. Do something kind for him today.”

An air of excitement ran through the church as we started to brainstorm acts of kindness. Some are planning fun surprises, some are planning fun pranks. What a blessing to have a Pastor with a sense of humour!

Though we’ve dedicated ourselves to intentionally loving the Sánchez family for the next month, our church will also be gifted. As we spend time in prayer for our Pastor, we will also be impacted, as God answers these prayers.

How to Use A Story

In John 4:1-42, we learn about Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. To recap, Jesus went out of His way to visit a Samaritan village. While there, He met a woman and talked with her. He managed to change not only her life but the lives of many other Samaritans in the village. What makes this encounter more enticing is this detail: Jews and Samaritans despised each other. So what Jesus did was momentous!

Perhaps you’ve heard or studied this story at least once before. If you’ve grown up in a church setting or a Christian home, you’ve may have heard a few different lessons on this scripture passage. Yet, each time we read the Bible, there is still more to learn. One point that came out of this story was what Jesus did.

Jesus used the Woman’s story to save her.

As our Pastor Josué loves to remind us: ‘everybody’s got a story that can change our hearts’. The Samaritan Woman had a story. We aren’t privy to every single detail of her life; only one small part of her story is revealed. While we don’t know much about her, we can see that her life is not going ideally.

At the time when the Samaritan Woman lived, people would go to the well first thing in the day to get water. They went early, while it was cooler. This was also a moment for social gathering. You were able to visit briefly with many community members at the well because there were many people there.

However, the Samaritan Woman waited until much later, when the foot traffic at the well was remarkably less. She went alone, probably hoping to return home as quickly and as unnoticed as possible. There are things going on in her personal life that has caused her to live this way.

Jesus, armed with this knowledge and a deeper insight, used the Samaritan Woman’s story to save her. He did not twist her words to accuse or belittle her. He did not abuse His spirituality, demeaning her for her differences. Instead, Jesus acknowledged that life was tough. And then He went a step further.

Jesus offered to improve the Samaritan Woman’s life tremendously.

Everybody has a reason for living the way that they do. Their story is not subject to our approval. But we can choose how we love and treat each other.

How are we using the bits and pieces of someone’s story? Are we looking to help improve someone’s life or keep them in a lowly place?

What Happens When We Throw Mud?

When mud is thrown at someone, the focus is the person at the receiving end. The recipient usually ends up dirty or tarnished, because the intention of the mud-thrower is to mess up someone else.

The statement in the image focuses on how the mud-thrower is devastated by their actions rather than can happen to the recipient. In using the mud around us to hurt others, it eventually runs out leaving us, the throwers, with nothing to stand on.

When we’re stuck in a muddy place, there are two options. We can wallow where we are, pulling others down into the mess. Or, we can get out. The second option, though, may require us to ask for help; to rely on another person instead of attacking them.

Jesus is not the mud-slinging type. Though He knew every detail about people’s lives, Jesus never once used it against them. He didn’t fling His words around carelessly. He was intentional in how He conversed with everyone, man, woman, and child. Jesus wanted their hearts to be compassionately touched, not tarnished. Whenever He was stuck, He called out to His Father for help.

Jesus’ Father is our Father too!

When we find ourselves in muddy situations, call on God. He always answers.

We don’t need to throw any mud.