Thank you so much for remembering us as we struggle, like the season, to garner the resources we need to enter the fullness of our summer ministry. As a small token of our appreciation please accept this “Letter from Egypt” as an attempt to share our hopes and prayers concerning the ministry in the way God has expressed them to me.
As we grow older I increasingly discern and appreciate the delicate ecosystem of life to which, like a divine party, God has required all of creation to come and participate. He has fashioned the universe in such a manner that, like He intended for the church, the whole is “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies”, each reaching out to sustain another and in so doing sustaining the whole.
I don’t believe in coincidence. My mind finds fertile soil in the symbiotic nature of the universe. There is some magnificent poetry in the way that God has created everything, the smallest to the largest, the nearest to the furthest, to be no more than distant cousins one to the other. To me, it further proves the veracity of “intelligent design”. I’m reminded of the old seasonal ditty, “April showers bring May flowers”. I suffered many seasons of rain before my flowers bloomed. It has been a source of numerous sermons that my salvation came on April 27, 1988 and my life began to blossom like it had never blossomed before that May. I had been a nocturnal creature for so long, always lurking, seeking prey in the dark, but that spring I woke up and smelled the roses.
I confess that when I first discovered flowers, like everyone else my first thoughts went to their beauty and aromatic pleasure, until I found that they are so much more. They decorate our gardens and homes and emphasize our gifts of love and appreciation, but few people know that the bright colors, strong scents and sweet nectar that we know as a flower exist simply to attract pollinators to a plant. Despite all our aesthetic pleasure, in their ultimate purpose, flowers are simply the reproductive organs of plants. They exist for the sole purpose of perpetuating the life cycle of the plant.
One of the most important players in this process is the pollinator. Each flower produces pollen, which then requires a pollinator to carry the pollen to other flowers. They attract a large assortment of pollinators such as birds, bees, hummingbirds, wasps, ants, flies, beetles, other assorted insects, and in some parts of the world even small mammals and lizards. The color, pattern or scent of a flower attracts the appropriate pollinator, which feeds on the nectar produced by the flower. During their feeding, sticky pollen adheres to the pollinator’s body until it moves to another flower to feed and the pollen proceeds through that flower’s stigma into its ovary where fertilization occurs. The seed then develops, the ovary grows into a fruit, and the flower withers and dies having served its purpose as a basic, essential, but transitional element in the plant’s process of reproduction.
Knowing this we can understand why the birds and the bees play an even larger part in the story of reproduction than most of us realize. They and other pollinators are essential to all of life not just the reproduction of their own. I remember reading about the danger of bees becoming extinct and thereby endangering all of life. The plant and its ability to produce a flower which will attract a bird or a bee is foundational to the cycle of life and without that symbiotic relationship all of life will fail.
If we were in a courtroom I imagine someone would be yelling, “What is the relevance of this line of thinking”? Well, within my worldview this understanding of God’s “intelligent design” presents one possible vantage point of our life of ministry to the poor. Like plants, the poorest of the poor have nothing within or about ourselves to attract the necessary pollinators, the lifegiving partners needed to regenerate at risk lives. For around 27 years Jerusalem House, as a gardener of the Lord, has struggled to produce flowers which will attract pollinators, who don’t cross the road to avoid the poor.
Ministry to the poor is perhaps the most difficult and unattractive mission field of all. The lives of those who live here are known to be marginal and at risk so few like their odds for success. The harvest is plentiful, the laborers few, the soil unnaturally resistant, and few dare to try and cultivate it. We live in a society whose worldview favors flowers and the poorest of the poor produce few. They lack the beauty and social graces of those we are attracted to in society. But, we have cast our lot with the poorest of the poor. We believe that God has called us here and like those who live here we’ve seen a lot of rain but few flowers for our efforts. We try to cultivate overcomers, who despite the odds overcome their poverty to become productive members of society. We believe their poverty hides ministers, teachers, writers, musicians, statesmen, athletes, police officers, advocates and a multi-colored assortment of flower-like heroes. We diligently work to cultivate their hidden Godlike features so they can take their appropriate place in the human family. Jesus was the greatest flower God planted among the poor and as such, “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him (Isaiah 53:3). Imagine the sorrows and grief our common, everyday neighbors feel. Still, parents continue to pray that such an anointed one will come from their family. Unfortunately, many families will suffer rejection, deprivation and disappointment before bringing forth a flower.
In the meantime, Jerusalem House Ministries continues to receive more rain than flowers. While we appreciate, diligent and committed pollinators like you who are ready and willing to aid the process of fertilization we are being overwhelmed by the rain. The almost daily downpours of various natures and intensity seem like either a coordinated attack or harbingers of an extraordinary harvest. Daily operating expenses are causing unsustainable drains on our resources based upon our current level of support. Without the same level of support, we received in 2016 I fear for the chances of this year’s harvest. We are currently $5,085.20 behind in budgeted expenses and approximately $5000.00 in miscellaneous expenses, and the seed planting days of spring and summer are already upon us.
Despite our debilitating rainy season, it’s not the worst we’ve ever had and we’re still looking forward to showing you the plantings of the Lord and the preparations we’re making to enhance our ongoing efforts. We’re working on a new intake center for the Community Center and we’re attempting to make it and our social hall more effective. We must always be prepared to cultivate new and existing flowers. Please visit our first cook-out of the season on Saturday, May 27th at noon. We’re still looking for churches, groups and individuals to assist us. Come by and gaze upon the beauty, smell the sweet aroma, and taste of the nectar, the same Jesus did in His work among the poor. Get a little of our pollen on you and take it where we can’t so it can be fertilized to facilitate reproduction. In the meantime, you can also check out our new Facebook page. I’m sure you’ll see it’s no coincidence we’re brought together in this ministry. It’s simply a matter of “Intelligent Design”.