John was a rowdy, distracted high school kid in a Christian academy. On the last day of school before Christmas break, his teacher gave an assignment that would change his life.
The assignment paired him with a friend to go visit a shut-in, to bring some Christmas cheer. He was about to meet Omega Buckner. After an awkward attempt at conversation and singing Silent Night together, Ms. Buckner asked if she could pray for the boys. Despite having heard prayers all his life, John never heard anyone converse as though Jesus were in the room.
Two years later, he woke up thinking about her. He went to visit, and she greeted him by saying she had prayed for him that morning. Thus began a warm, mentoring friendship. In college, he took students to meet her, and many were impacted by the depth of her faith. The visits lasted until her life ended at age 97, but her impact on his life will not end. John Stonestreet tells this and other stories about “God’s audacious plan to change the world through everyday people” in his book, Restoring All Things.
It is tempting to be discouraged as the culture turns against the truths Christians know, and the values we hold sacred. Before he died in April, Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George concluded, “It is likely that I will die in my bed. My successor will die in prison. His successor will die executed in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” His statement expresses the hope that God is always at work, renewing, regenerating, reconciling. Remember Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God?
God’s servants are called to be a blessing to the cultural belligerents, and to the world. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5:19-20). All Christians are called through the life of Christ to be part of the Father’s work, even if we are unpopular or misunderstood.
In your community you will probably find Omega Buckner’s kin providing food and financial help to the needy, helping mothers with unplanned pregnancies, assisting with medical needs, reaching out to jail and detention center inmates, and providing counseling and rehabilitation therapy. You will find Christ-followers serving in government, education, business, and civic organizations.
What becomes of Western culture is beyond our control. T.S. Eliot wrote, “For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” That we are here and trying is the evidence, hope, and victory that God is accomplishing His plan. Whatever the future, everyday people will still be part of the great work of God, loving and reconciling people to Himself.