Easier said than done

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One of our goals in publishing this magazine is that readers will be encouraged to be involved in the lives of others so that individuals, families and communities will be changed completely for the better, thanks to the transforming work of Jesus Christ. And one of the ways that we offer this encouragement is by sharing stories of people who are serving others.

Sometimes the story focuses on ministry within God’s family. Just because we are followers of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean our lives are perfect—Christians need to be served, loved and cared for just like anyone else. Other times CL articles highlight Mennonite Brethren who are investing themselves in those who have not yet declared their allegiance to King Jesus.

Many times we focus on positive outcomes—the lives that have been changed and stories of success. But getting close to another person—a fellow believer or someone still searching—is easier said than done.
It can be inconvenient and risky. Investing ourselves in others can ask more of us than we think we are prepared to give. It can stretch our financial and emotional resources. Hugging someone who smells bad or who has a contagious illness may require some resolve and determination. So can spending less time on established friendships in order to nurture a new relationship with someone with whom you have little in common but that you feel God is asking you to befriend.

In this issue we tell the story of the El Faro soccer team. The opportunity to invest themselves in nearly two-dozen teenage boys was an answer to prayer Ricardo Biberos told a reporter from the Reedley (Calif.) Exponent last year when the newspaper interviewed members of the church involved with the soccer team. Just eight months after forming the team, coaches could see the teens changing for the better.

But it can’t have been easy to earn the trust and friendship of these bored troublemakers, familiar with gangs and drugs. There likely were some “messy” moments as the adults and teens formed the comfortable relationships they came to enjoy. Being involved in the lives of nearly two-dozen teenage boys is no doubt one of those easier-said-than-done acts of service.

Yes, there are rewarding highs when we serve others, and it’s good to celebrate the ways in which God uses us to bring about change in someone’s life. There are also discouraging lows. This stuff—the tough reality of what it means to give yourself to someone else—can be hard to share. But it’s an important part of ministry, a valuable thing to share as we encourage one another as servants of Jesus Christ and his church.—Connie Faber

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