Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How'd we ever get so far down, and
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"
God said, "I did, yeah, I created you"
Those are the lyrics of Matthew West’s song “Do Something,” which came out on his 2012 album called Into the Light.
West penned those words after hearing the story of Andrea, a former University of Colorado student who chose to spend a semester abroad learning micro-financing in Uganda. While there, she happened upon an orphanage in critical condition. The children were being badly neglected and even abused. Her heart broke for these orphans who had no advocate; no voice, and no future. That's when Andrea decided to do something. She called her parents and said, 'I'm not coming home.” She refused to leave these children until something was done to improve the conditions.
In an interview with West, he explained that "By sheer determination and refusal to give up, Andrea and her sister convinced the Ugandan government to close down that orphanage, which left about forty children with no place to go. The government handed the children to her. Andrea brought this need back to the States with a new vision and desire to create a safe place for these children to grow and learn. Today, Musana (which means 'sunshine') is a thriving orphanage in Iganga, Uganda, housing over one hundred children! Andrea prefers spending most of her time in Uganda, not the US. She's a long way from a sorority house or a college campus. She's reaching the world, and bringing hope to people, one helpless child at a time.” When asked what it was that made her fight for these children she simply said, "I just kept thinking, 'if I don't do something, who will?'" (www.songfacts.com)
How many of you have stood before God and asked the same or similar question? How many of you have raised your voice, shook your fist and asked, “Why don’t you do something?” Why don’t you take the pain away? Why don’t you ease the burden? Why don’t you help the process? Make things easier?
We look at our world today and it is hard not to ask why? Why don’t you fix it God? Why don’t you end the fighting? Why don’t you provide a way for peace? Why do you let it go on and on? Why don’t you make them see what is right and wrong? Why don’t you do something God, after all you are God?!
Andrea’s story takes us by the shoulders and boldly reminds us that the whole time we are raising our voices and shaking our fists, God is saying, “Oh but I did, I did do something. I created you. I created you to be the vessels of my creativity, wisdom, strength, power, and force for good. I created you to embody the characteristics and qualities of my unconditional love, unending grace, selfless compassion, endless mercy, genuine forgiveness, and ongoing care.”
That is the heart of Stephen Ministry - doing something - caring for others - being vessels of hope, strength, and encouragement. It is about helping others through difficult and challenging situations and circumstances; doing something, being present, walking alongside another pilgrim on the journey so that when they come through the other side, they have a few less bruises.
This model of caring ministry was born out of the words of Luke as recorded in the book of Acts chapter six. In these verses, we learn that the early church was made up of a very diverse group of people. Aramaic– speaking Jews who converted to Christianity; Greek – speaking Jews who converted to Christianity – probably at Pentecost and came from various countries; Greek-speaking Gentiles who had converted from polytheism to Christianity. They were divided by language barriers, cultural differences, religious differences; ethnic differences; and variations in the way they had viewed their original faith as Jews. The early Christian church in Jerusalem was a church of thousands. Acts tells us that on the day of Pentecost alone they had 3000 Jews convert to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and that number grew every day. (Acts 2:40-47)
The apostles, serving as pastors of the early church, teaching, preaching, baptizing, healing, instructing, traveling, building partnerships in the surrounding area, and spreading the Word of Jesus, had to figure out a way to care for those who needed it most. They couldn’t do it all - their capes weren’t that big or that powerful though some [astors even today, like to believe they are. They couldn’t do it all and still do everything else they were doing to grow and build the church.
They needed trustworthy, wise, and grounded individuals to help care for this particular group of people. When they went through the list of those who met the qualifications, a man named Stephen was among them. Thus began the first Stephen Ministry program of the church; a group of caring individuals set aside, trained, and equipped to provide care for those in the church who were suffering, who were being overlooked, who perhaps felt forgotten, left out, and left to figure it out alone.
Stephen Ministry is a distinctively Christian caring ministry in which individuals are matched with a trained Stephen Minister to walk alongside them through a variety of life’s challenges, obstacles, and detours. Here at Grace Church, our Stephen Ministers have helped individuals process grief, loss, anger, heartbreak, family dysfunction, death, illness, and much more.
It is easy to shake our fists and ask God, “why don’t you do something?” Today I encourage you to hear God’s response, “I did, I created you.” How can you care for each other? For those sitting next to you? Those in your small group or Sunday school class? Those you serve with at Soups On or the Food Pantry? Those you know but haven’t really seen in several months due to covid? Maybe it's time to do something? And for those of you struggling, wrestling, or battling life’s circumstances, maybe it's time you do something - take a deep breath and let us help. You do not have to go through it - whatever it is, alone. Reach out and receive a Stephen Minister - someone to talk to, share with, and feel less alone in the struggle. Let us provide the support and care you need to get through it with a few less bruises.
I think our mission statement says it best: Caring Together - Growing Together. This weekend, as we recognize and celebrate our Stephen Ministry and Care Team, let us remember, we are in this together. We are given a biblical model of how to care for one another. We are equipped by the Spirit to walk alongside each other. Whether you need the extra support and care or you can give it, we are all called to do something.
May it be so...AMEN
For more information about our Stephen Ministry please call the church office at 317-736-7962 or contact Rev. Dr. Jenothy Irvine at firstname.lastname@example.org