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This devotional is part of a series in January that tells stories of “Bold Faith” written by CBF field personnel and members of a team composed of clergy and laity from across the Fellowship who are leading of process of prayerful discovery that will result in a faithful response. Find out more about this process called Toward Bold Faithfulness.
By Jon and Tanya Parks
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.
Jon and Tanya Parks serve as CBF field personnel in Kosice, Slovakia, where they serve among and alongside the Roma community. To learn more about and support their work, visit www.cbf.net/parks. To help shape the future of our Fellowship and take a step toward bold faith together, take CBF’s online survey at www.cbf.net/survey.