My Thoughts

My Thoughts on Christianity and Other Things

Archive for the tag “Volunteering”

Seattle Christians

Meet Nicole, my guest writer. My wife and I have known Nicole and her husband for a few years. Both of them love the Lord just as my wife and I do. Hopefully this is only the first of her writings.

Seattle Christians
by Nicole

Seattle – Photo from Google

Seattle – Photo from Google

Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words. -St Francis of Assisi

I recently heard someone not local to the Seattle area use this quote in reference to Christians in Seattle. I don’t know if the person repeating it was aware that these are the words of Saint Francis, not to be confused with the current Pope of the same name. And to clarify, I think the person who said this was still making a fairly valid point about Seattle area Christians in general, and I respect this person a lot. To paraphrase, he said that Christians in Seattle tend to be quiet about their faith, and keep it private. Yes, I try to be quiet about it most of the time, but I am also aware that Christians do live in Seattle, so I’m not quite a minority, religiously speaking.

I keep my faith quiet for several reasons, but first and foremost is because so many in the Seattle area who are not followers of Christ tend to have strong opinions about Christianity, whether they understand the Bible, the religion, or not. Most of the arguments I heard against the Church didn’t have anything to do with the faith I was brought up in, but had everything to do with other Christian sects or an historical viewpoint. Those don’t apply to me, for the most part, since I belong to a lesser-known branch of evangelicals, and well, I live in the 21st century and not the crusading Middle Ages. And then in the lime-light there are the Bible-thumping “evangelicals” who adhere to very strict ideas of how Christians ought to live and aren’t shy about declaring who will be “saved” and who is going to be damned to hell. With those ideas, why on earth would I actually publicize that I’m a Christian… with my words?

I love these words of Saint Francis of Assisi about witnessing: Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words. Another way to phrase it is, “Actions speak louder than words.” I believe that the reason my acquaintance criticizes Seattle area Christians is not because we don’t talk enough. It’s because we don’t act enough. We are called to be people of action. Not just Christians, but everyone! That’s not to say that we need to live more in the moment, or that we should act first and think later. No. But we can’t just stand around and talk about stuff, and then call things good.

I’m fine with people not talking about what they believe. I almost wish more would do that. It’s difficult going to downtown Seattle and watching so-called Christians demonstrate with signs that “God is Love” and then see right next to them, or written just below, “God hates Gays” and worse. Those are very cringe-worthy signs and actions. I have no idea where their hearts are, or what God thinks about them, but I don’t identify with that as being part of “Kingdom work.”

The best personal action I can think of recently happened on the night before Thanksgiving last fall. I volunteer for an organization that works with local prostitutes, giving them a hand-up and there was a new girl there that night. For the first time ever, I was someone’s first point-of-contact at the center. She was scared that telling me she’s a lesbian would lead to me asking her to find someplace else to go. My response? “Would you like anything to eat before we get into the rest of these in-take forms?” I heard last week from the center director that this young woman has returned to us several times during the daytime and has asked about me. Wow! Do you see what I’m getting at? My words helped my actions, and reflected more strongly with them. Even more, they have impacted the organization so that she and others feel welcome to come in and get the assistance they are looking for.

Christians don’t need to be preachy or try to act all righteous. They need to forgive and act from places of grace. This still applies to me. I might do things “right” from time to time, but I need correction too. I don’t want to be remembered for my words when I’m gone from this world. I’d far rather be remembered for my actions. Hopefully good ones! I am mostly speaking to the Seattle area, but this call to better accountability in action could be for other pockets of the USA and world as well.

So many speak about their beliefs without considering if their actions measure up. We talk about helping the poor but won’t help the homeless guy begging on the corner. We say it’s a shame that people don’t have clean water in southeast Asia and Africa, but won’t donate the money to help them build proper wells. Instead, we scream that women who abort their unborn children are murderers when what we should be doing is asking them if they need counseling, or if they would like better access to birth control. There is so much inaction in the world. What can you or I do today to speak with our actions, instead of our mouths?

CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)

Summer is here. Now what are you going to do? You could volunteer to be a victim to help train police or fire departments. It’s a lot of fun. This is a reprint of an article I wrote for a hearing loss newsletter years ago.

A few years ago, I was a victim of a bad car crash. Some of you may have been car crash victims too. Or maybe you were a victim of thief or fire or what ever. No one likes being a victim, unless… you are one of the volunteer victims for the NW CERT EXPO (Community Emergency Response Team) that was at the Washington State Fire Training Academy like I was on September 22, 2007.

At 7:00 Saturday, I drove in to the east side of North Bend to the fire academy. There were a lot of young people there. Most of them were high school students. I also met Donna from the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center. She brought her friend Angela, both are neat people, and both are deaf.

The staff had scones and muffins on a tray with some fruit in a bowl. I filled out the forms, got my free t-shirt, and then waited in line to be made up so I would look like I had a head wound with blood coming out of my ears. They also painted some nice bruises on my face. I looked like I had a wrestling match with a train and lost. The teenagers of course wanted all the fake bones and glass coming out of their bodies. The grosser, the better. One girl wanted a stick to ‘go through her’. The stick was too big and long, so I took out my picket knife and whittled it down so it could be mounted and still look ‘cool’.

They had us victims divided into groups. Finally our group was called outside where they quickly told us some things and then we started walking down the hill. I didn’t hear what was said; I was just following along like cattle. We finally entered a building and went in a nice clean room with a fire truck inside and fire uniforms hanging up. We were told to hide and act hurt. Two different CERT groups came in to check us out and tie ribbons on us. Green means we’re hurt, but not too bad. Yellow means we’re hurt bad but not life threatening. Red means if we don’t make to the hospital soon, we’re going to the grave.

Lunch wasn’t too bad except because of a miss understanding I lead Donna and Angela to the wrong building for lunch. The staff and CERT people were eating there. The victims were to eat in the building that we first met. By the time we got there with all the teenagers there, we almost didn’t get lunch.

After lunch we were divided up in three groups. First group went to a ‘burning’ building. You could see the concrete building at one time did have a fire in it. Now it is black inside with what looked like a few smoke bombs going off. Another group was in a plane crash and the last group was in a car wreck. Donna and I were in the car crash with two girls in the back seat.

The staff knew that there were going to be one or more hard of hearing or deaf people, but they forget. Much of the time I had to guess at what to do. There was one woman there who although was not a translator did know ASL and often informed Donna and Angela what was happening.

Now I know we must educate people about hearing loss, but there are some things I guess can not be taught. When we were in that mocked car wreck; an ‘aid’ came to check us out. She saw I was ‘unconscious’ and said so. She then went to Donna’s side of the car and realized that Donna was conscious but was also deaf, and she told the others that. So far so good. Then I heard something that I knew I must be mishearing. I heard, “Deaf Lady, if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” Then I heard it again “Deaf Lady, Deaf Lady, if you can hear me squeeze my hand.” I finally said, “She really can’t hear you.”
“Well how do I communicate with her?” she asked.
“You can use a pencil and paper.” I answered.
“But I want to communicate with her.”
“Write her a note!” I said.
I don’t know what to say about this. I have a lot of thoughts though, like maybe a little more training for people with and without disabilities.

It was a fun day and I was very tired by the time I made it home. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.

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