We aren’t what we wear

logoI recently had an interesting conversation with two young women that I tutor. Members of the Old Colony Mennonites who have been relocating to Canada from Mexico in recent years, they wear traditional dresses and kerchiefs. I’ve been teaching them to read, a skill they didn’t have the opportunity to learn as children. One of their many reasons for wanting to learn to read  is so that they can read the Bible, so we’ve been using a children’s Bible story book as one of our texts.

“Do we have different Bibles or do we just understand it differently?” M asked me after one of our recent sessions. “Our Bible says that we should wear dresses and cover our heads,” she continued. She was clearly referring to the fact that I don’t dress that way.

So what does the Bible actually say?

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Deuteronomy 22:5

We talked about what that might mean and M was quick to point out that though we might both wear blue jeans, her husband would never wear a top like I was wearing. No one would confuse me with a man because of the way I was dressed!

There was a time, not too long ago, when regardless of what they wore during the week, everyone dressed up to go to church on Sunday morning. Heaven forbid that a woman should wear pants or a man show up without shirt and tie! Thankfully, for many of us, that has changed.

Several years ago, before it became commonplace, I made the very intentional decision to begin wearing blue jeans to church. I don’t wear them every Sunday, but I do make a habit of wearing them quite often.

Why?

There were several young families in our church at the time who were struggling to get their teens to come to church on Sunday mornings. One of the issues of contention was what they wore. The kids rebelled at the idea of having to dress up. It always boggled my mind that anyone would consider one fabric (blue denim) less holy than another and rebel that I am, I felt that if I, sometimes considered a leader in the church, wore jeans, the younger parents might feel more comfortable allowing their kids to do the same.

Who knows? Maybe someday my young Mennonite friends might feel comfortable dressing more casually too. In the meantime, they wear their dresses and I wear my jeans and we have a wonderful time together! After all,

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

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Kids helping kids

We went on our second Mission to MARS this week!

That’s right! Two years ago, on the island of Saipan, we directed a Vacation Bible School program with an outer space theme. This week, we brought the same program, Mission to MARS (Meet A Risen Savior), to our own local church. Every morning approximately 30 excited children between the ages of 5 and 12 gathered for games, crafts, songs and Bible stories.

One of the verses that they learned was 1 Chronicles 16:29 which speaks of bringing an offering. With this in mind, we wanted to incorporate a Missions project that the children could identify with and contribute to throughout the week.

MARS
The escalating civil war in Syria has left an increasing number of families in chaos. According to the United Nations, an estimated two million refugees have fled into Lebanon, Jordan, and surrounding countries while more than four million people have been displaced within the country itself.  Schools across Syria are closing as children and families flee dangerous areas, and the public schools in Lebanon and Jordan are overcrowded. They simply can’t continue to absorb the number of refugee children who are flowing in. Many Syrian children have already lost a year of school due to violence and transition.

The Church of the Nazarene runs four schools in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. These schools are in neighborhoods where Syrian refugees and internally displaced people are struggling to survive but they can’t operate without funding. Many displaced, traumatized families have little or no income and are unable to pay school fees.

With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, this was an issue that our VBS kids were easily able to identify with and they amazed us with their compassion and generosity.

  • $400 will enroll a Syrian child in a Nazarene school for an entire year
  • $100 will provide books and clothes for the school year
  • $45 will support a child’s school fees for one month

My faith was small. When I made up the poster shown below, I set $100 as our goal for the week but with the help of the church’s mission committee who agreed to match the children’s offerings dollar for dollar, we surpassed that amount on Wednesday! I was going to add another column to the poster that evening but one of our older girls suggested that I’d better make that two. Even that wasn’t enough! After taking this morning’s offering and adding in the matching amount from the missions account (shown in teal on the poster), we had raised $335.10!

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In a country where we take so much for granted and where most children will soon go off to school wearing brand new clothes and carrying backpacks stuffed with shiny new supplies, it was gratifying to spend the week with kids whose hearts were touched by the plight of boys and girls in a faraway land whose lives have been uprooted by the tragedy of war.