Memory is a complicated thing. It’s layered with smells, sounds and images that transport us back to a time we’ve long left. When I think of October 29, 2012, I remember the swirling, angry red storm clouds moving across the meteorologist’s screen, the long lines at the gas station and the thick smell of mildew and mold when I returned to my washed out home in Atlantic City.
I remember the long FEMA line, the 6 month hotel stay and the unending question: Will we ever go home? As thousands across the state of New Jersey asked that of themselves, United Methodists began to ask a different question: How is God calling us to respond?
That response led to the creation of A Future With Hope and over the course of 5 years, the rebuilding of 250 damaged homes and the transformation of thousands of families, volunteers and churches in mission together. This ministry may seem like a miracle. After all, a non-profit like A Future with Hope, which didn’t exist before the storm, shouldn’t have been able to raise 17 million dollars, host 11,000 volunteers or provide case management to over 3,000 New Jersey Residents. This kind of thing defies the norm!
Yet, I would argue that while A Future with Hope is an amazing God-sized ministry, that’s not the only miracle. The miracle is in the memory: the deep remembrance of hope seemingly washed away in a storm and being restored by the love, grace and mission of the people of God.
So, when Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico: we remembered. When others were slow to respond or question if this was even their responsibility, we remembered. When others offered thoughts and prayers, we offered our resources, supplies and volunteers. We remembered the thick smell of mildew, the long lines, the power outages and because by some miracle ours was restored, we remembered God’s call to offer the hope or Esperanza to others.
I think that’s why this year’s ministry focus of Miracles Everywhere is more than an annual conference theme; it’s a call to remember the miracles that God has performed in our mission and ministry in the past and the expectation that we will be witnesses to many, many more. So remember A Future with Hope, Esperanza and keep asking the question: How is God calling me to respond? When you do, you’ll see Miracles – Miracles Everywhere.