By Gary Gunderson
We are all called to be healers of the communities that God so loves. Sometimes we hear stories that appear to be about extraordinary people doing amazing things. But when you look more closely you see that these people are more tenacious than brilliant; just doing one right thing and then another, never looking away from those in need.
Any of us can do that. The surprise is that when we do, we find ourselves not depleted but more alive. Jesus said that would be so, and not as some mysterious paradox. That’s simply how life works.
This is most obvious in times of great conflict or disaster, and we’ve recently experience a massive storm. The winds are now past, but not the loss and the suffering. And not the joy of being part of the healing.
The FaithHealth division declared this year as our year of “living dangerously,” to lean in where others lean back, to stand steady where others move away. We don’t have to look for the vulnerable, we are already connected to those who are most exposed with the most reasons to fear. On the stormiest nights our chaplains will, of course, be among the patients and staff in our hospitals who are under enormous stress. But every single day our Supporters and Connectors are in the neighborhoods most likely to bear the brunt of all kinds of storms. Our CareNet counsellors are in the lives of those still living with grief and anxiety over past storms and most likely to be at greatest stress in next. We know our healthcare staff themselves most vulnerable and are grateful for our faith partners who come alongside to care for them. We know the names of friends living under bridges. Our first responder partners are already on the way into harm’s way. Our varieties of faith partners are at the ends of every low-lying road.
Living Dangerously means not waiting for the call. Before the next storm hits, take a few minutes and reach out to the ones within range of your love to let them know that you—and by connection, we—are on alert for them. Listen carefully. And then reach out to the rest of us, if there’s something we can do. Think vine and branches, not solitary heroes.
We’ve done a few things already. We made a special allocation of $20,000 available to the four CareNet centers right in the bullseye of Hurricane Florence so the directors wouldn’t have to take time to ask in the midst of the flood. We also alerted our Baptist partners, especially the NCBC Baptist Men who are always the very front lines of disaster response, and the UMC Bishop Hope Morgan Ward that we’re available as they need us.
We all know that the greatest challenge is after the crisis when the news cycle rolls onto the next thing. So we pray to be living tenaciously, not just urgently. That’s why we have built all the roles you live in every day that extend and connect deeply. These are dangerous roles in which to live. But that’s where the fresh air is. Blessed are the merciful-not just those who feel sorry for others.