Small Acts That Change A Broken Place
BY JENN JOHNSON, ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT OF CHURCH PLANTING
I’m a “doer,” a “helper,” an “Enneagram 2” (if that means anything to you). I see a problem and I want to fix it; I want to help as many people as I can. However, it didn’t take long for God to show me I can’t fix everything or help everyone. As Christ followers, we have an anointing to bring healing to the six broken places, but that doesn’t mean we are expected to individually heal them all. That’s a relief when we see brokenness everywhere we turn, but it’s also overwhelming when we are wondering where to begin.
I believe it all starts with one small act which can lead to healing, be a catalyst for hope, and have a ripple effect that can change any of the six broken places. It all starts with showing up and being present – in the lives of others and in the chaos of brokenness. This doesn’t require extravagance or specific talents, but it does require us to be attentive and willing to step into gaps.
One small act can lead to healing, be a catalyst for hope, and have a ripple effect that can change the six broken places.Tweet This
I first learned the power of presence when I was 17 years old on a short-term trip to Colombia. One day, I was sitting in a refugee slum with a woman who told me of the horrors she survived after civil war hit her town forcing her family to flee. Her husband was killed, her young son kidnapped, and her daughter – who was my age – was claimed by a drug lord and forced into marriage where she then had two children and all of three of them were being physically abused. The woman told me how helpless she felt that no one would intervene and how terrified she was for the lives of her daughter and grandchildren. I sat and held her hand as she and I wept together. In those circumstances, there wasn’t anything I could do to fix it. But being able to tell her story and pray with someone willing to listen and love her in her pain brought a sigh of relief to her emotional pain and isolation.
On the same trip to Colombia we spent a day visiting a men’s prison. One of the inmates approached us eagerly. He exuded confidence as he retold the events that recently landed him there very matter-of-factly. I returned the following year and we visited the prison again. That same man we had spoken to a year prior approached us. Looking worn and tears brimming his eyes, he told us the last time anyone had visited the prison was when we had come last summer. The inmate, once confident and high in spirit, collapsed in tears and defeat. Not even family and friends came to visit, but a group of strangers from Indiana did. We didn’t heal his isolation, but we made a choice to be present to him and the other inmates which was meaningful and refreshing in his anguish.
My first job out of college I learned about the importance of presence to those in my own backyard, as I was a community mental health clinician based at a school in Indianapolis. Most of these kids came from families where at least one parent was not present for various reasons. The mental illnesses and behaviors of the kids were symptoms of struggles and tragedies they have had to endure. Many of these kids simply needed someone willing to invest in, encourage, and love them even when they acted in the most unlovable ways. While my mental health background gave a strategy, my presence was the execution. From throwing a football with a boy whose father was not around to telling a girl she is beautiful and important after attempting suicide, just being present with them in the hard was, in some ways, what they needed. Families were still broken and poverty persisted but knowing someone cared for them gave some of these kids endurance to press on with a little more hope and confidence.
Showing up and being present is not necessarily the solution in and of itself, but it’s a small act that can be a catalyst for healing the broken places others are experiencing. Jesus instructed us to go into the world, and as Christ-followers we take Him with us when we do. When others experience our presence they also have an opportunity to experience the presence of God. This is one reason why we are multiplying Grace Church. Whether it’s campusing or church planting, when we extend our presence and reach new people they can encounter Jesus and experience His transforming love – maybe for the first time!
Grace has many opportunities for you to be present to others – from serving with one of our local partners or in our Care Center to leading a Fuse or Merge group. These are examples of small acts with great potential to change a broken place. Show up for one person or a small group of people and see what God does through you.
I WANT TO SERVE