Traveling with the God who Sees
As we’ve been sharing since January, this is our 40th anniversary year. Each stop along the way is like reading another chapter in the book God has been writing about this community and our mission.
The process of all this storytelling is revealing. Children encountered God and us, and experienced love and hope … and they realized, most of them, for the first time that they were seen. These children grew up, and many have kids now. Some even have grandkids. And they are still with us, in some fashion, some work here, some volunteer here, some still are in our programs for adults and whole families, some are even donors. Many more joined us, and the family has grown and so has the story.
These stories are reminiscent of someone in the bible … the tortured slave woman Hagar, who was having Abraham and Sarah’s baby (as a surrogate), so that this anointed couple, could fulfill God’s promise on their own terms (Genesis 16). It wasn’t enough that Hagar never had a name with this couple, she was either the maid, or the maid servant, the slave, the Egyptian. It wasn’t enough that she was a tool, simply something to be used, for the job to get done. But it was too much, when she started to become a person, a soon to be mom, and she stepped forward as a human being … STOP THAT … “your gloating face, your sassy attitude, you’ve no right to act superior around me” and that humanness got slapped out of her and beat out of her and the abuse shoved her face into hate … and she ran as far away as she could run. With a baby in her.
And the angel of God (maybe it was Jesus) found her. “I’ve been looking for you”, he said. “Hagar”, he spoke her name … “What is this, where have you been? Look at you! And where do you think you want to go? Back to Egypt? It’s a long way.” He sighed. And they talked, and she cried, and he promised her a son that would make the world spin, and the numbers of his lineage would be too many to count. And he listened while she talked, and she felt human for the first time, probably in forever. Her forever.
And then, the part of the story we here at Neighborhood have always needed to know … and that was when she, a woman, a slave, a forgotten miserable invisible person … gave God a name. She, the first in the bible to do this act, not the elevated progeny of some ancestral kingdom given that honor, oh no, it was she … the abused one … who named God. She named him, El Roi. El Roi means … “You are the God who sees me”. As I interview the people who have grown up here, who are becoming the 40 stories for the 40th anniversary of Neighborhood Ministries, I am hearing people describe what it feels like to be seen. People from the most broken and difficult places who now bear witness to the power of love.
You are probably receiving these video stories in your inboxes, but if not just go to https://nmphx.com/Blogs/40-stories/ or scan the code to view some of the 40 stories. I hope you take some time to watch and listen. Picture these grownups, once small and scared, lost and looking for that refuge, a place to call home. And now hear their adult selves describing rescue … by God. Seen by El Roi.
I hope you can come to the Big Event, The 40th Anniversary Christmas Fiesta, December 3. There will so much to experience that day, but there is one special stop along the tour I hope you find. It is a storytelling space, where these forty stories will be playing, and some of the people you’ve heard about will be there to meet. Come December 3, and be part of the book God has been writing.
We start Monday nights again this week, reaching the new generation for Jesus, introducing them to this God of promise. Keep helping us, please. Your support makes it possible to open the doors for another one who longs to be seen.
No matter the size of your gift – large or small – you are making a huge difference in the lives of children and families we serve. Also, remember that your gift to Neighborhood Ministries can qualify for an Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Your gift up to $400.00 for those filing singly or $800.00 if you are filing jointly can be claimed as a dollar-for-dollar credit against your state tax.
Whatever you give today you can give with confidence, knowing that lives are being transformed by the power of God’s love and your partnership with Neighborhood Ministries.