Yesterday we passed these boys and girls playing baseball at an old-order Mennonite school near New Holland, PA. Look closely and you will see the teacher is pitching. Seeking to be less intrusive Brooksyne takes these photos from the passenger’s side of our van but through the driver’s window, and yet we can still get some pretty clear photos.
(Click on photo for larger view)
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Note: Today’s message is a bit different. It is especially written from our hearts and is based on our experience in seeking to do the work of the Lord. The first part may actually not seem very encouraging but if you hang in there we believe you will get a good dose of hope at the end.
For nearly twenty-five years our ministry, which we both trained for in Bible College, was my pastoral role in two local churches; one in northern Pennsylvania and a second in New England. Of course Brooksyne worked right alongside me and since we teamed together in campus and community ministry even before we married, we have considered our work for the Lord similar to Aquila and Priscilla in the Book of Acts.
Since 2001 we have been involved in chaplain work among companies as well as writing these daily messages.* Between these two types of ministry, in addition to serving interim pastoral roles here and there, we keep very busy to say the least!
Most regular readers should have a pretty good sense of what our writing ministry involves, although many would not understand how much is involved in the underlying technical steps involved we post each day to our various outlets. Our daily encouragement ministry takes around 4 hours each for every message; sometimes more, sometimes less.
Our chaplaincy ministry primarily involves visiting various companies in our area. We have two long days of this and several shorter days. On the long days like yesterday we start very early in the morning and by the time we get home in the late afternoon we are very tired. In part because of the nature of traveling from location to location and walking through and talking to hundreds of employees. Yesterday we visited 6 separate work site locations and were on the road a total of 90 miles. Since we are both nearing 60 years of age we are just plain “pooped” when we get home!
Now to be sure we have many light moments with brief encounters that may not be necessarily spiritually oriented. We think of these as “bridge-builders” so people are comfortable in sharing their life needs with us. But we have also have many serious discussions based on several categories;
- Encouraging those seeking to do the right things in life such as working hard, being responsible, taking care of their families and so forth. We also want the employee to find fulfillment in their work. If we have identified the employee is a fellow Christian that of course opens up additional means of spiritual mentoring.
- Listening to the many ways people bear burdens from marital difficulties, family problems, health problems, deaths, addiction struggles and so many others. We of course pray for them and seek to give them counsel. At times these matters also lead to offsite visits as well.
- But frankly the weariest form is observing the extremely poor life choices so many, especially younger people, are making and they often seem blind to it. We meet many similar to the prodigal son before he came to his senses (Luke 15:17). Our specific discussions are confidential but these issues are so common such as immorality, substance use but assured by them not abuse, reckless use of their finances and many other issues.
This source of weariness is very spiritual draining. You listen and just realize the almost certain consequences of the path they are taking.
I attended a chaplaincy conference this summer where I encountered the term “compassion fatigue”. Of course anyone involved in people work can experience this and some of our readers may realize they have or even are presently going through this.
I first heard the term in a teaching by a longtime friend from the early 80’s. Dr. JoAnn Butrin has served in medical missions for over 40 years with visits to over 90 countries, many of these being during times of crisis. She works in some of the most tragic of human conditions and illustrated her experience with compassion fatigue working among the Rwandan refugees during the horrific civil war. The movie “Hotel Rwanda” describes this awful period in human history. Currently consider the compassion fatigue of those serving in countries affected by the Ebola.
In the preliminary note I said this message would end on a hopeful note so please read on. Let us especially consider the words from our daily Scripture text. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
The cure for compassion fatigue is receiving the strength the Lord has to offer to all who come to Him. He stated, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We may understand this rest in a one-time sense of a sinner coming to the Lord and experiencing His rest in providing full salvation. But let us also consider the ongoing need to come to the Lord who continues to gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You that You give strength to the weary and You increase the power of the weak. Though youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, those who hope in You will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Our wisdom, strength and discipline come from You who generously provides for all our needs. We ask that you would especially strengthen all who may be dealing with compassion fatigue as they deal with human needs all over the world in the Name of Christ. Amen.
* Since 2001 I’ve held several part-time interim pastoral roles at four churches accumulating about five more years of chaplaincy ministry, but for the last several years we have been able to devote our energies exclusively to chaplaincy and Daily Encouragement Net
We stopped at a roadside produce stand near New Holland PA where Brooksyne is holding a huge sweet potato with a regular sized one for comparison. It would probably be suitable to set it up next to the big turkey on Thanksgiving, weighing in over 7 pounds.
All through the countryside so many of the Amish and Mennonite farms have something for sale along the road. These apples for sale are near Martindale, PA. Coming home yesterday from Palmyra in Lebanon County we passed a farm with a table of small pumpkins and gourds for 10 cents each! Brooksyne picked out twenty and placed the money in the honor system tub as she saw out of the corner of her eye two very young Amish boys wearing their straw hats watching from afar. As we drove off we watched in our mirror as they dashed from the house and came running out to the table to collect the money! Perhaps their mom told them they could collect the proceeds and they were excited to see how much! Sadly people are increasingly stealing produce and money from these honor system stands.
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