E-pistle June 24

Good Works Matter

Thirty-six LPC youth and their adult leaders will leave tomorrow for a week in New Orleans.  They go as members of this year’s youth work camp team. Their job will be to add their energy, strength, skills, caring and love to the ongoing efforts to rebuild the city in the aftermath of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina almost six years ago.  Plus daily devotionals,worship and great fellowship.

Our numbers go something like this: 18 high school students, 11 adult and 9 young adult leaders. 19 males and 17 females.  Ages 15 to 70+. Some will be on their first work week others have been on more than 10.

Their work will be coordinated through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and they will be staying at the PDA village in the city. PDA has been in New Orleans since the early days after Katrina and plans to maintain its year-round presence there at least through 2013.  Our team will join over 50,000 volunteers who have traveled to New Orleans since 2005 to work through PDA.  PDA’s focus now is building or rebuilding 350 houses per year – that is nearly one a day and all done by Presbyterian volunteers using donated materials and financing.

The PDA effort has been particularly effective, but matched by many other denominations and Christian agencies. The Christian response to the Gulf Coast disaster of 2005 has been something of which we can be proud.

So is that why we send our kids and leaders to sweat in the south Louisiana summer sun? So that we can have denominational bragging rights?

Let me suggest three better reasons we send our kids on work weeks (and our doctors to Guatemala and our cooks to the homeless shelter and our readers to Hunting Park – you get the point):

  1. The need exists. We who are abundantly blessed with resources are compelled by God’s love to give to those who have not. If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17)
  2. We are blessed in the giving. Who has done mission work and not discovered that truth? We don’t go for what it does for us, but what it does for us is powerful.  Especially our kids need to have the blessing of giving.  “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
  3. The world is set a little more aright by good works.  Every selfish act, every act of injustice and oppression, hurt and disregard, pushes our world further from the place it was created to be. Good works have an amazing restorative power and point us back to where we belong. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

It sounds naively simple: it’s good for them, it’s good for us, it’s good for our world. To God be the glory!

Simple or not, that’s why we do it.

Oh, and by the way, the church staff has been dreaming about ways that more of us might be involved in this wonderful good for them/good for us/good for the world process. Stay tuned.