While I was recently in New Orleans with for the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering, I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors Donald Miller. His book Blue Like Jazz made the New York Times best seller list. He was going to be a keynote speaker on Saturday night and it was something that I was definitely looking forward to during our adventures at the gathering. The students were aware of this and so we even showed up a little early to the Superdome hoping to get floor seats and be a little closer to the action. There was one story that he shared that I’ve thought about several times since. He said that as he was traveling he overheard two ladies talking about the disaster of Katrina in New Orleans. They spoke about how they were disappointed in the events that happened after the disaster with the lack of “urgency” that they saw from the government. It was the next comment he heard from them that struck him most. “Do you know who’s really helping out down there? It’s those Christians.” He then discussed how he hoped that this would be something that would be heard more often, that “those Christians” are really helping out and making a difference in the world.
During the youth gathering, it was estimated that all the service work we would do over our short time together, would be more than could be accomplished in 3 years with the current amount of service work that is being put in. I hope that in my community, the actions of the people of faith can really begin to promote the stereotype that “those Christians” really want to make a difference and help our neighbors. May God’s grace, peace, mercy and love be seen in us today.