This article was originally published by The Mennonite

The need for hope, community building

After several days of meetings, I just wanted to go home and rest. It was late at night when I landed at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, and I contacted Uber services. Several minutes later, the driver arrived at the pickup area.

I kind of expected another typical experience: Get in, greet each other, engage in a few minutes of conversation, arrive at the destination and show appreciation for the services rendered.

Well, this time I was wrong. Greetings took place, but I was not fully prepared for 47 minutes of conversation. It all began when the Uber driver asked about my line of work.

I shared with him a brief description about my work as associate conference minister for Western District Conference. We were in the middle of a traffic jam. He looked at me and said, Thank you for what you do.

This is the first time a “total stranger” used a “thank you” for the line of work I do.

His response triggered my curiosity. I asked him if it was OK for me to inquire about his religious tradition. While displaying a cross in his hand, he said to me: More than ever before, and given the current events across the nation, this is a reminder for hope and community, you know, helping each other.

We both agreed that for the most part we know about the importance of serving other people, but we also acknowledged that it is hard to do it, especially when individuals look and think different from us. The conversation then moved to other topics like faith commitment and hope.

Certainly, the landscape for church ministry has and will continue to change in many ways. Doing the same thing in church and expecting different results just won’t work. Despite the post-Christianized era and postmodern realities we live in, the gospel of Christ is still relevant.

As we engage neighbors and communities, we will find individuals with the same expectations and hopes as the ones shown by this driver. There is a need for hope founded in Scripture, not just in philosophical discourse and humanistic nuances. There is a thirst for redemption and transformation in every aspect of human life, the environment, social injustice and so forth.

Jesus began his public ministry with two powerful truths. The first was the call to repentance and the second was the announcement that the kingdom of God is near.

The gospel should not be about feeling good or escaping to a place of comfort in a galaxy afar. At least it should continue addressing the current human situation, holistically, and it should entertain eschatological components.

For me, the conversation with the Uber driver was a perfect reminder about church connections, building relationships and being incarnated in the realities of our local communities. Knowing about it is not enough; I need to get up and go to fulfill the Great Commission holistically and responsibly.

Byron Pellecer is associate conference minister for Western District Conference. This article originally appeared in the conference newsletter WDC Sprouts.

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