Let me tell you about an incident Pastor Gary Nelson experienced a number of years ago. Gary was at the time the General Secretary for Canadian Baptist Ministries. Every two or three years he taught in Kenya an “Introduction to Urban Ministry” course for pastors. He brought other people with him to participate so that they too can learn about the conditions in Nairobi. Because of his busy schedule, he didn’t have the time to prepare the new group going with him. Therefore, they were neither prepared properly to deal with the poverty they saw, nor did they develop into a strong faith community that could lean on one another when overwhelmed by the sights.
Each afternoon the group went out to visit some of Nairobi’s most poverty stricken areas and do some project work. The Canadian contingency was deeply affected what they saw around them. One day they visited the destitute Kibera area – 1,500,000 people living in a small, concentrated area of long, narrow, winding dirt lanes and small mud-and-stick shanties. After viewing the area and doing some repairs on some houses, the group wound themselves along the dirt path until they came to a church in the heart of the city. There they discussed what they saw with the acting pastor in the community. The pastor spoke to them how they performed their ministry despite seemingly impossible odds. When he was through, the church served them – tea and bread – a real luxury in that community.
Unable to deal with the immensity of the problems they were seeing, one man in the group looked up at the pastor and said, “Where is the hope?”
The pastor eloquently described his faith and the faith of the people in his church and finished with an astonishingly simple answer, “Our hope is Christ!”
As powerful as the pastor’s words were, two people in the group almost yelled out, “That is not enough!”
“Christ, is not enough?” the pastor responded with a quizzical and heart-broken face.
Marvin Dawn, an American pastor was there at the time, added her thoughts: “It became for all of us a time of deep soul searching. We came to find that our North American culture won out over our faith that we espoused. How fettered is our hope by the plethora of goods we have and think we need, by the notion that we can fix problems if we just have enough stuff! How small is our picture of the Triune God manifested in Christ that we might think, under duress, that God is not enough! How could Christian theology instead move churches to believe that Christ is enough and humbly serve right there?”
I am now 60-years-old. Depending who you talk to, I am still a spring chicken, or an old man who needs to get fitted for a truss. However you view these years, I can say that they have blessed me for I not only walk with Jesus, but I learn from Him. And the greatest lesson I have learned in all these years as a Christian and then a pastor is this: JESUS IS ENOUGH.”
I, like all of you who have some years under your belt, have faced some truly difficult and painful times. Some of these events I’ve encountered have thrown me into a deep, dark pit. The one thing that sustained me through these times was the fact that I knew that Jesus was with me, Jesus was brighter than the darkness I found myself in, and Jesus’ hope was overwhelmingly larger than the despair I was feeling. That didn’t make the situation any less painful, but it did provide me with what I needed to get through it, and take others with him to a place of deep hope.
We have all been through so much in this new year. But, we will make it. We will survive. We will gather together again and when we do we will laugh and play and sing and dance and of course – eat! That day is coming I am sure of it.
My certainty of this bright day coming is not wishful thinking, it is based on this certain hope: Jesus is Enough.
God bless, Dan