So many parts of Scripture call Christians to live beyond the status quo, to take bold steps in faith and act where others do not. To live a brave faith looks different for everyone; not only do we have different definitions of ‘brave,’ but we have different passions and gifting. Living boldly and being an active participant in your faith can be expressed in both big and small ways. Here are just a few people already doing it.
“I first got involved at this school leading a service project. Someone said, 'We need a person to lead here.' And I was like, ‘Why am I raising my hand?’ The first year I did it, I had no idea what I was doing and it was super stressful. But it turned out to be this awesome, rewarding experience. I needed 40 volunteers and 70 people showed up.”
Hannah serves at a local elementary school in a low-income neighborhood. Under-resourced schools have low parental involvement, less experienced teachers, and are less likely to have critical math, science, and advanced coursework. Students in high poverty schools have fewer resources outside of the school building and are also getting less in the classroom. By the end of the 4th grade, low-income students are already 2 years behind grade level. They are more likely to have behavior problems, repeat grades, or drop-out of high school. Only 16% will go on to graduate college.
Despite not having children in the school, or living in the immediate community, Hannah volunteers and rallies other to join.
“Projects like this can be tough, because there’s not really even contact with the kids. But it’s not up to us to make sure there’s a response.”
“Parenting Time Center provides a safe place for kids who, for whatever reason, can’t see one of the parents without a supervised visit. There are tons of scientific studies about children needing their parents in their lives, even if their parents need to grow and develop their parenting skills. So, what we can have is these locations where they can be there with someone helping, and that’s going to help the child overcome potential trauma from their childhood. And I see it in my own life. My husband and I are guardians of two teenage boys, and seeing what they’ve gone through by not being with their biological families, it’s a very personal thing for me. “
Jessica is on the board of a nonprofit that establishes a neutral location for supervised visits between children and their biological parents. As a foster parent herself, she deeply understands the local need for this organization.
“There was a dad who walked all the way to Parenting Time Center, knocked on the door, and said, ‘You’re the only way I’ll be able to see my child.’ So we worked with him, arranged visits, and he got to see his daughter and learn how to be a parent. And eventually, because he had gone to our parenting classes, he was able to care for the child and she didn’t have to go into foster care. That’s really incredible.”
“We open up our home to let young men live with us. They’ll come for 4 or 5 days, or they’ll come for 3 months. We don’t let them stay for more than 6. We have one goal with everyone that comes, and that’s to teach them to think like a follower of Jesus.”
Rick and his wife invite young men of all walks of life into their home and into a mentorship during confusing and formative years of their lives.
“We work through John’s gospel verse by verse. I say, ‘I want you to read the first four chapters of John, take a blank piece of paper, and write down everything that comes to your mind.’ I do the same thing. And then we sit down and talk about it. You’re learning about yourself because you’re making notes about things that are actually important to you. Maybe you’re writing everything down about prayer or giving or conflict. You start to see a pattern in yourself, but you also start to see a pattern in how Jesus thinks, you start to see what he pays attention to. Those things are happening. I’m learning about them, they’re learning about themselves, they’re learning about Jesus, and they’re learning to walk in the Spirit. All by taking a blank piece of paper and the Scriptures.”
"It’s a place to work out their thinking. They aren’t going to disappoint anyone to come in and say whatever they have to say. And the background I have, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. Whatever you imply or say, it’s not going to change anything about our relationship. Nothing’s going to shock me. I’m not going to write them off. It’s a place to work out their thinking where they are safe."
"We have a housing crisis in our community, where affordable housing is not easy to come by and a lot of folks are struggling with that. And that, in a lot of instances, is at the core of chaos and instability for folks. If their housing situation isn’t what they need it to be, then every area of their life will struggle. If we can get people into housing first and stabilize that issue, then we can address the other issues like addiction or income. Its a change in philosophy, but housing was one of those issues where, if we don’t address that then we’re spinning our wheels with the rest of it."
Stephen is on staff of a nonprofit, working with people trapped in the cycle of poverty. He spends his day helping connect people in his community to resources and education they need to work toward a better future.
"It really just starts with having a heart for people, and having a heart for seeing our community changed. Poverty is a very complex issue, and whether it’s poverty relief or any other service, it first starts with the heart to serve. Then figuring out what your talents and skills are, and finding a place to plug in. As a community, we all live here together. When one of us suffers, all of us do."