Clues for a life well-lived

Clues for a life well-lived

I met someone last week who gave me a clue for how to be more joyful and compassionate. Pascal Bimenyimana visited Chapel Hill from Haiti where he leads our global partner there, World Relief. He is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, and he has served among the most devastated places in the world. Nowadays, about 100 Haitians on his team are facing down gang violence, natural disasters, and generational poverty with shocking hope. How?? By teaching Christians to get closer to each other and to those who suffer most. I want to share two snapshots from his time with us—of joy and compassion. I think they are the fruit of the life of an average church member.

Partnering with the global church reminds us of the responsibilities and rewards of church community. Since our son is choosing to join Chapel Hill with 11 other high schoolers this weekend, these are timely lessons!

JOY. The Maritime Gig Festival Weekend is the best for hosting out of town guests. Pascal was part of waving at friends on every other float (he kept running down his phone taking videos). In kids’ small groups last Sunday, they all prayed for Haiti and colored prayer cards—he LOVED them. Even with long travel days and showing us the flooding in Haiti as we spoke, Pascal joyfully reminded us of the basics about connecting with others. Invite them to share a meal. To grow friendship, keep connecting with each other, don’t just trade favors.

After five days of this, I decided that Pascal is so joyful because he has seen God show up…miraculously show up, through getting closer to other believers, especially those who might seem to have little else in common. All the work in Haiti happens because World Relief gets groups of 10-15 church leaders together in a small geographic area. Their purpose is to unite and to serve the most vulnerable. Thanks to following this simple formula straight from Jesus—share God’s love as we become one in his name (John 17:23)–Haitian churches are accomplishing what no foreign aid alone can.

We can actually do this, too. Unite across difference in love. We did it when we listened to Pascal with his French accent share and prayed for needs together last weekend. We do it when we team up with other local churches to serve at FISH Food Bank or build a Habitat for Humanity house. Tomorrow my son will vow “to be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way” and to “seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be.” I know this will mean sacrifice for him…and also JOY!

COMPASSION. We stopped with Pascal to visit an RV parked in the shadow of the Tacoma Dome that greets people who are released as part of the Immigration Detention Center Ministry. As our local partner, World Relief Western Washington meets those who have left their homeland and experienced intense trauma and isolation. Church members help get them to the airport or spend the night in their home. Pascal has seen the other end of this journey…in African refugee camps or Haitian villages where young people are choosing between deadly gangs or destitution. He suggested having a way to play music in the RV and some drawing paper because people’s souls heal that way. He saw past the practical tools to translate dozens of languages or look up airline itineraries to the heart.

We can do this, too. Get close to wounded people. Find avenues to connect with our own pain. Let it soften our hearts instead of hardening them. Rich, Jeff, Victor, and their life group did this when they invited Pascal to share his testimony with them last weekend. “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior? Do you trust him? Do you confess your need for the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?” Our teens taking these vows will have tears in their future, but as part of the church they can grow in compassion like Pascal.

If you have become a church member, how can you get closer to other believers? Maybe join a LifeGroup (I have one!) How can you get closer to those who suffer? Maybe serve together as a group with our local partners. If you aren’t a member, check it out. If God is growing your heart for our global church family, please join me for these opportunities in the year ahead. See you tomorrow in worship. I will be the mom ugly-crying over my baby boy becoming a man in Christ.

Cara Taylor
Outreach Director

The Outreach team exists to support every member living on mission right where you are and growing as part of God’s global family. I have lived in many corners of the country (starting in my beloved New York Italian family), and I’ve worked with college students and international development previously. So, I LOVE the diversity of God’s kingdom…every age, every language, every status…shouting together, “God saves!” Alongside Judson and our awesome teens Jeremiah and Mercy, I am part of a creative and curious clan. I’d love to meet you and learn something I didn’t know. We can wonder together about your next step and what our just and merciful God may be up to! Contact me at, 253.283.0238