It seems like so much has happened since I first spoke with Mr. Hingson earlier this year and when I met him at the Kelowna airport this past Wednesday it felt like I was greeting an old friend but in reality I was meeting for the first time a man with a remarkable story. I was struck again by the fact that we all have a story--that we who walk by faith are all stories still being written as God works in our lives and as we cross paths with others along the way. From that first meeting in the arrival area to seeing him off through security on the return flight, I have learned much about his life, his story and much about the world of those with vision impairment.
I think many of us have gained a greater understanding and new appreciation for those who are blind; that there are different ways to 'see' / to perceive the world in which we live--that we all face challenges and limitations and we are all inter-dependant. I've had to confront the stereo-types and prejudices that I may have secretly held, even if well-intended. I'm learning when to come alongside with a helping hand and when to allow others to make it on their own--in Michael's case, simply providing the information he needs to make his way forward. And, I think we are all continuing to learn to graciously allow others to support and encourage us along the way. Sometimes it takes a discerning spirit to know what is needed in the moment.
My greatest joy in all of this has been to see the church at work, sometimes in very visible, 'up-front' ways and sometimes quietly 'behind the scenes'. I am grateful to all of our escorts who gave of their time and made the necessary arrangements to make sure our guest was where he needed to be when he needed to be there. But more than that, I see and hear their joy in doing this to meet the needs of another and to serve our Lord. I'm reflecting on the updates I heard throughout the last few days, the stories and pictures shared and this is truly one of my greatest joys--just seeing you doing what we love to do at Valley...be servants.
I celebrate the leadership that Lia gave to making our 'Meet and Greet' such a wonderful time and Trudy's leadership in preparing breakfast for the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast--the hours of hard work these two ladies have given are another testimony to the heart of Valley, but that they did so with a spirit of joy speaks even louder about who we are. And then, there was a team of people that came along side of them to prepare and serve and clean up with the same 'how can I help' spirit. I watched all of this and quietly rejoiced in the truth that this is who we are at Valley.
I see images of Bob and Lia and John and Katie loading up their vehicles after the 'Meet and Greet', the last ones at the event, the job still not quite finished. I see Don taking Alamo out for a much needed break. I stood beside Janice with great pride and joy and watched her help with the welcome and introduction and then sat back and watched with the same joy as Sandra stood on stage to thank Michael. I stood at the side watched as Trevor gave leadership at the Prayer Breakfast; grateful that we serve as team and filled with gratitude that others were using their gifts and talents to serve. I rejoiced when I heard from Janet and Sharon as to just how well things went as Michael spoke at the Sen Pok Chin Elementary School and interacted with staff and clients at Painted Chair. These are but a few of the many images that scroll across the screen of my mind. What makes each one so special is the faces I see; faces of friends at Valley and the thought just keeps repeating within my heart, ' we were able to share in this together'.
Know this as well friends, we have been used of God to bless Michael and his wife Karen; I have a sense that one of the reasons God prompted us to pursue this opportunity was so that He could bless and encourage Michael and provide for their needs; once again your generosity has blessed others!
I hear the stories and see again the faces of so many who bought tickets, some to give away, who extended the invitation and entered into conversations with friends and neighbours. I urge you to stay in the conversation now that the 'event' is over. I had several opportunities to interact with people who asked what prompted us to do this as a church and why would we do this--I think we reflected well the role the church can play in our communities in inspiring, encouraging and building up the people in our communities and in doing so, we have gently opened the way for them to explore more about the church, its message and the hope that is our in Christ Jesus.
To that end, I encourage you, I encourage us as a church, to continue to...let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)