Partners, December 2018
FEATURE PHOTO (above): Hundreds of Harding University students donate their time…
Elizabeth Oxford | In The WordThree years ago, I was placed in a children’s shelter — a temporary stop in my journey to my home now. At the shelter, I got my first chance in life to explore the Gospel and faith. While I did not attend church, I was able to access Bibles and study materials to help me find and build my faith.
Younger girls at the shelter would attend church but did not understand what they were being taught. I would use the study materials and the Bible to build my understanding — while trying to help them understand.
At my next stop on my journey, I continued doing Bible studies with girls in the house, but I discovered many roadblocks to sharing the message. Though we were in a place that was supposed to be a Christian home, often we weren’t allowed to attend church. Sometimes, we even were asked to stop the Bible studies.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. — Colossians 3:15-16, New International VersionI got mixed messages on what faith truly is, but this only made my desire to share the message I was learning stronger. In one meeting, I asked my case workers to require my foster parent to take me to church on Sundays. It wasn’t until moving to my current home that I was able to dig deeper into the truth of Bible and get help growing the faith that I proclaim.
In a world filled with brokenness, disbelief, distrust and criticism, what exactly is faith, and how do we make our faith known? Even in a society that claims to be Christian, this is not always clear. Many Christians want to share the Gospel, but all too often they do it in a way that non-believers do not understand. They know nothing about this man we call Jesus.
Is sharing the message enough to make people believe it is not just a story? Or is there more? In Hebrews chapter 11, we are given many examples of heroes of faith.
Brooke Williams, a ninth grader from the Hawley Church of Christ in Texas, shot this photo of her brother, Hunter, inspired by the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch from Acts 8. “The sunrise in the picture is symbolic,” Williams said. After his baptism, the eunuch “awaits the new day, rejoicing in the Lord.”
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for,” we read in the first two verses. The writer then gives examples of faith heroes such as Noah, Abraham, Moses and many other Old Testament figures, showing how they lived out their faith. They followed God’s commands. Their faith had action. As we read in James 2, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Colossians 3 says it like this: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you…. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
If we are to truly make God known in the world, we are going to have to live our faith out loud. We should show others who Jesus is through the way we act and speak. Above all, we need to show the love Christ had for us when he died on the cross.
I encourage you to not be afraid to share the message of Christ — even if your faith story has not been perfect.
ELIZABETH OXFORD and her foster family worship with the Austin Avenue Church of Christ in Brownwood, Texas. She will attend Ranger College in Texas this fall and hopes to become a teacher. This piece is adapted from a speech she gave at the 2017 North Texas Leadership Training for Christ convention in Dallas.
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