In 2020 the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (our sponsoring organization) is entering a season of discovery and discernment called Toward Bold Faithfulness. We wrote the following devotional for the CBF Blog – look at the end of the article for prayer requests and for more information about this initiative.
A tired teacher finishes her breakfast and looks out the window at another cold and snowy morning. Things at home are difficult; things at school are difficult.
Roma kindergarteners are sweet, but difficult to teach—all of them come from poor families. Some of them will have wakened in freezing-cold homes this morning, and some will show up to school hungry. Their parents frequently disappoint the teacher by their indifference. The other teachers are often rude to her out of their own frustration. Not one of them appreciates the sacrifice she makes each day. But, she sees the spark of God in each of them—children, parents and teachers. So, she continues to teach, continues to give smiles and hugs and grace to each one. For her, bold faithfulness looks like getting up from the table and walking to the school.
A young Roma couple sigh as they are turned away once more. They want to rent an apartment in the city. They’ve found some that are affordable, but several times now when they show up to see them, the owner takes one look at them, sees by their skin color that they are Roma, and sends them away.
Sometimes the owner is polite enough to make an excuse—“I’ve decided not to rent it anymore”—and other times they’re direct—“I don’t rent to Gypsies.” They can’t count the number of closed doors now, but they still believe that all people are made by God, and even these are worthy of love and respect. For them, bold faithfulness looks like a smile and a simple, “Thank you, God bless you,” as they look for the next address on the list.
A young Roma woman wakes up and tries to stretch, then remembers that her body won’t work. The disease has slowly taken away her ability to do simple things on her own. She begins the process of hooking herself to the lift that helps her get into and out of bed. She whispers a prayer as she gets settled into her wheelchair. How many thousands of times has she prayed God would heal her? It would be easier to just stay in bed and let the disease take her. It would be easier to say, “God has given up on me” and find other ways to occupy her time. But she still has hope and believes God is still working—even through her. So, she begins her day, sending messages to church members to remind them about prayer needs and helping organize events to evangelize in nearby villages. For her, bold faithfulness looks like simply getting out of bed and doing the work God has given her to do today.
When we moved here to Slovakia seven years ago, we thought we were the faithful ones, leaving behind our home and families to serve across the ocean. But “bold” doesn’t have to mean “big,” and our one-time act was just the beginning of faithfulness, not the end of it. Bold faithfulness takes place one small step at a time, simple actions by which we show ourselves (and sometimes the rest of the world) that we believe God is up to something bigger than our eyes can see.
And here’s the other thing our friends here have taught us—we can borrow faith. We Americans love to be independent and self-sufficient. But bold faithfulness isn’t something that one person can do alone—it’s something that’s done together. When someone beside us loses faith, we encourage them. When our faithfulness runs out, we borrow it from someone else.
That’s why we keep sharing these peoples’ stories. We don’t simply admire them. Sometimes we borrow their faith when we need it—faith to be kind and loving in the face of injustice and indifference. To keep doing what we know God’s has called us to, even when no one notices. To keep holding on even when things seem hopeless. Maybe on our best days they can borrow a little from us, too.
What simple action today looks like bold faithfulness to you? From whom are you going to borrow faithfulness and to whom are you going to lend it? Let’s be boldly faithful—but let’s do it together.
You can help shape the future of the Fellowship by participating in the online survey during the month of January. Click this image to learn more about the Toward Bold Faithfulness initiative at the CBF website (www.cbf.net/tbf ).
Two specific prayer needs:
1) Please pray with us as our Community Health Evangelism Team holds our community meeting in the village of Cakanovce on Saturday, Feb. 8. Pray that people would be open and willing to work toward a better future for their community!
2) Please pray about – and consider joining – a project starting this month that connects Adult Roma students with partners in the U.S. who can pray for them and encourage them. Being an adult student is difficult, and these busy men and women can really benefit from connecting with someone like you! Contact us by email for more information.