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Sometimes, we catch glimpses of God’s kingdom springing up around us when we least expect it. We see it in ourselves when we learn to overcome adversity, we see it in others when they do deeds of kindness, and we sometimes see it in the beauty of God’s creation.
Last summer, I served as a consultant with Kentucky Appalachian Ministries, a ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky and witnessed a lucky glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth.
I was asked to go on a tour of Eastern Kentucky areas impacted by that massive sweep of tornados that hit Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky in March of 2012. All along the journey, I saw many farms and gardens completely uprooted. Livestock, buildings, homes and people were devastated by the power of these horrific storms. I met many folks who were involved with national disaster relief teams struggling to get organized and structured so that they could begin to offer relief and aid. They were so bogged down by governmental restrictions, procedures, and policies that they were not yet ready to implement major changes.
Yet, while they were waiting, they refused to sit idly by for a miracle to come to them. They made a miracle happen. They were being proactive by helping those in need, listening, providing food and offering their shoulders for others to lean on. Their presence and patience might not have been enough to make change happen immediately, but they were bringing hope and the promise of a better tomorrow to those they served.
During this time I also met an incredible lady. She was a local who owned a small country farming supply store just off the side of the road. She had a deli in that same store where she also operated the only post office in town. When the tornadoes hit and for many months, she stood by those families who struggled to get back to normal. She never refused a family food, she never turned away a volunteer group willing to help, and she never waited on anyone to tell her it was okay to care for others. She reminds me of the farmer in the New Testament who planted the mustard seed, right there from the start ready to spread her love to those who needed it.
When we pray the words of the Lord’s prayer “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” we remember people like Charlotte whose loving compassion moves us closer to God’s kingdom here on earth. The question the church today faces is how can we help build the kingdom of God in our own communities? How can we best care for others? What would it take for us to welcome the stranger and love them as God has taught us to love? We can spend our lives waiting for the Kingdom of God to come to us, or we can help build it here and now by spreading hope and love.
(Shayanna Jolly is the pastor at Crittenden Christian Church. She can be reached at 859-428-2210. Facebook page is www.facebook.com/CrittendenChristianChurch and website is www.critttendenchrisitian.com)