Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Popsicle Stick Crosses Will Save The World

A couple in my church, Ben and Alexandra Pierre, recently gave birth to their first son, Philippe. All was well until a few weeks into his life it was discovered he had Hydrocephalus. He basically had too much fluid on the brain. Philippe survived, but any developmental damage will only be discovered as he matures.

After some recuperation time, Philippe and his parents returned to church. During the offertory time, the children were brought downstairs so they could be with their parents during communion. As they entered, each one of them was holding a little popsicle stick cross they had made and personally decorated.

As they walked in, their teacher paraded them over to Philippe where each child handed their cross to Alexandra. Each cross represented the prayers the kids, and the church, had prayed to God on behalf of baby Philippe. You could see the emotion washing over her.

Later, Alexandra came forward to receive communion, holding Philippe in her arms. The person administering the bread was John Fugate, an elder in the church and Philippe’s doctor. He placed his hand on Philippe’s head and prayed a blessing over him. I’m not being poetic when I say tears streamed down Alexandra’s face.

Jesus was always quick to defend children. And while he was making a point about faith, these children showed me the true impact the church can have in the world. Alexandra’s reality was changed forever. God reached into her life and touched her in a very profound way through a group of children and a bunch of popsicle stick crosses.

We’re not going to save the world by taking back Washington. We’re not even going to save the world with our beautiful sermons. We will save the world by taking the time to become intimately involved in the lives of those around us; taking the time to hurt as they hurt, laugh as they laugh, and showing them hope in a God who is there, even when it seems like nothingness and pain are the only realities we can comprehend.


JR said...

Amen! As I've been searching for a new church to be a part of, this is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. Churches that dare to engage in intimate community with one another and their hurting neighbors. Now that I'm looking forward to being a dad (of your nephew or neice), I see the necessity for the community to surround one another and support itself. I think you're onto something amazing.

Ann Marie said...

That was really touching, and just about had me in tears. Remember though not only did the children do such a beautiful thing, but their kind teacher taught them well, as did their parents. The community should be proud of the children they are raising, they're doing a great job.

Halden said...

It is wonderful to see God in the action of others.

Anonymous said...

thats a bit of truth that needs a wider audience in xianity today. thanks for posting it.


educat said...

Truly beautiful, may we all keep our eyes on the ball. Thank you.

Ryan said...

Thank you for sharing that story, it was important for me to hear that sort of thing right now. A little bit of reality for someone who is faced with all too much unreality (read: seminary). God be praised for ministers like the children of your church and John Fugate.


GotDesign said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing it. It will be the children (popsicle stick crosses in hand) who will be the future of our nation's spiritual health.

Anonymous said...

Great story, though the last paragraph puzzles me because becoming intimately involved with the lives of those around us seems to be the exclusive way to save the world. It's a wonderful thing to share in both the joys and pains of others on an individual level, but it's one of many componants necessary for a better world. The president, for example, can't be intimately involved with every individual, but he can be a leader who leads through his faith and shares his knowledge of Christ with the nation. Washington is going to be held by someone - it's better that it's held by Christians than the humanists (democrats) who usually don't have a relationship with Christ. The secularists want to compartmentalize faith so those who have it only live it inside the church. That's wrong. Faith belongs in the White House, in Congress, state governorships and legislatures, and our homes, schools, and businesses just as much as it belongs in our churches.

Neville said...

Ben, I loved this post...but this last comment concerned me. I was okay until you (anonymous) started saying that most democrats (secularists/humanists?---as if they're interchangeable terms?) don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. And I somewhat resent the fact when you start harping that every "secularist" is just out to compartmentalize faith. Call me crazy, but there are many "sacredists" (Christians...some posing as Republicans just to get the Christian vote) who are just as guilt as the "secularists" are. Separating the world into such boxes of spaces is never a good thing---for the Christian or for the secular humanist worldview thinker. And also, and I mean this as nicely as it can be put, humanism is not this "out and left field" philosophy that's anti-God, anti-Christian. (Read theologian Hans Kung and see why he calls every Christian to be a Christian humanist--very good point he makes). Again, I'm not bashing your comments...I just found them very stereotypical and very judgemental of a certain political party that seems to be estranged by mainline evangelical churches of America...and to this day, I'm STILL trying to figure out exactly why??? Something to think about.

Anonymous said...

Neville, the democratic party has been marginalized with evangelicals because of what its members stand for (homosexuality, sodomy, abortion, extra-marital sex) and what they don't stand for (family, marriage, faith, love of God). But that wasn't the main point of my previous post.

My main point is that one's love for God needn't be confined to the inside of a church. God is everywhere, and so we should demonstrate our love for Him everywhere - including the White House. One-on-one is a wonderful thing, as Ben's post demonstrates, but our leaders don't communicate one-on-one with the population. They communicate via TV, through legislation, through court decisions, etc. Like our personal relationships with one another, these leaders actions and words should share faith in a God who is there.

Ben said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am very hesitant to claim our political leaders have any real positive effect when it comes to social change. I think history shows us that real change starts at a grassroots level where individuals are impacted and then take their message to the masses. The U.S. Civil Rights Movement comes to mind.

I also find your characterization of the Democratic Party to be overly simplistic and argumentative. It would be like me saying the Republican Party hates the poor and exists only for the rich to get richer and to promote policies that have no regard for human rights in third world countries.

I am a big supporter of the idea put forth by the people at Sojourners (www.sojo.net) that "God is not a Republican or a Democrat." If someone where to say either presidential candidate in 2004 completely and accurately represented a Christian worldview, I would challenge them to prove it.

With all that said, this is not a political forum. The point of my post was simply to say that if the church wants to change the world, we need to quit threatening political action and become involved in people's lives. If you look at the early church, you see a group of people led by the Spirit who ignored political methods and instead spread the word on an individual basis.

Let's not bring politics into this, especially if you're just going to use tired arguments like the Democrats stand for extra-marital sex. That combined with your unwillingness to even sign your name to your opinion shows you just want to cause conflict, and I'm not really in the mood to deal with it. So, either have the nerve to actually own up to your opinion and quit hiding behind the Anonymous tag, or go away until you have something constructive and worthwhile to add to the discussion.

~Kat said...

Wow! What a wonderful outward sign of those little people's commitment to our Huge God! How touching!! I believe you wholeheartedly when you say that we must stop trying to control the big picture and instead, ask God to guide us to people within 15 or 20 feet of us. I know for me, I think of ways to reach people en masse when I live on a college campus full of lost people just waiting to experience God's love. And what am I doing for them?? I don't even "have time" to make a popsicle stick cross to show them I'm praying, much less pray! I go to Campus Crusade for Christ, isn't that enough?? I'm a Christian, Lord, You tell me who to witness to.

And He's probably up there saying, "I would, if you'd ask."

Rock on!!! God is Awesome!!!

We can't all be political leaders. But we can all ask God to call us into a higher form of ministry through affecting local, intimate contacts. Isn't that, after all, what Jesus did?

off shore fisherman said...

What could be more powerful then a popsicle cross, in the hand of a child ministering Christ's love?

Meg said...

hey Ben,
I'm glad to have found you via Evangelical Expatriate. Thanks for writing. I love your voice (well, as it comes out in the written word. . .ah, you know what I mean)
As one seminarian to another, let me say about this story and the others you have written: "that'll preach!" Thanks for being a thoughtful, engaged and compassionate theologian!


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