Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Faith in Action (Dialogue Column 7.29.08)

The Dialogue is the newsletter of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in St. Joseph, MO. Often, I'll post here on the blog my columns for the weekly newsletter. I mention it just so that folks who read the snail-mail version can skip this post if they've already read it.

Faith in Action is an organization not just a good idea. You may have seen the article in the News-Press this past Saturday about Faith in Action Volunteer Caregivers. First Christian’s own Jo Wade was quoted in the article. (I was too, but Jo’s remarks and stories were far better than mine.)

Faith in Action (FIA) began in the early 1990’s when our church joined with several others in our community to care for people with HIV/AIDS. At that time, there were limited resources from government agencies and a whole lot of fear and prejudice towards people who suffer from this disease. Over time, more resources became available from government, social services, the health department, etc. for people with HIV/AIDS, so FIA evolved into a ministry that helped anyone who had medical problems with things like companionship, transportation, help with chores or errands and so on. At this stage, FIA was funded by Heartland Medical Center. As the years passed, both Heartland and the volunteers involved felt that this really should be a ministry of the churches rather than an office at Heartland, so FIA was reorganized.

Given our church’s history with FIA, I was asked to be on its governing board, and I have been well-pleased to work alongside members of area churches to redesign the ministry. Now, FIA is funded entirely by churches, although the Heartland Foundation is helping out by giving us help such as free office space. The new and improved FIA will work to help anyone in St. Joseph who has a need that cannot be met elsewhere. Each church that is a part of FIA will supply volunteers to help out in whatever area they are interested in. For example, First Christian will be providing transportation for people who need to get to medical appointments but cannot get transportation elsewhere for any number of reasons. Other churches may help with yard work or basic home repair and maintenance.

St. Joseph is blessed with a number of social service agencies and ministries that work diligently to help people in need, but there is far more need that there are resources to meet it. FIA is an effort to meet the needs of some of the people who fall through the cracks and are unable or ineligible to receive help elsewhere. The needs are great in our community, but this is a great way for people of faith to respond to them, just as we are commanded by God to do.

If you are interested in volunteering to help provide transportation for those in need, contact Jo Wade. She will serve as the volunteer coordinator for First Christian. I am grateful to Jo, not only for representing our church so well and leading in this manner, but for the many selfless hours spent and miles driven over the years to care for people in need. Just ask her about some of her experiences. Some of them are funny, but many of them will touch you deeply as you hear about people who felt the love of God thanks to the time and effort of Jo and her husband Ron.

Grace and Peace,


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