Bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond through the Divorce Recovery Ministry — A Future with Hope!
by guest blogger Ralph Starling
A few weeks ago I was in the Philippines during the monsoon season and witnessed the devastation caused by the constant rain and flooding. Thousands of people lost their homes along with all their possessions. Our mission team visited several outdoor shelters on the outskirts of Manila. Each shelter we visited were full of men, women, and children with numbers at each site exceeding 500. In one of the shelters a young woman came up to my crying and holding the only possession she had left, a photo of her little baby she had lost in the flooding. In her grief she begged me to help her! But, I had no earthly idea what to do. I felt so helpless. All I knew to do was cry with her and pray for her. I eventually took her to meet some of the community leaders at the shelter in hopes they could find a way to help her.
Experiencing loss can be a devastating experience. I was reminded of this again last Sunday as we began our 22nd annual Divorce Recovery Workshop. There in the huge Dining Room at Richmond’s First Baptist Church were a room full of people seeking shelter and support, but feeling overwhelmed and helpless from the painful loss of their marriage. Many were on the verge of tears. Others were still in shock that this was even happening to them. Some were speechless. And, some could not believe a Baptist Church would even offer this kind of workshop. But, our some sixty Divorce Recovery volunteers were ready. They know how to practice hospitality! They were greeting people in the parking lot and walking participants inside to the Workshop. They were encouraging participants with their lovingkindness and attentive spirit. Our Divorce Recovery volunteers know the value of this workshop. At one time they all benefited from this workshop as participants. It is these committed volunteers who help make this ministry one of healing and transformation.
Most participants in the workshop never imagined they would be going through this experience. Some of them have been married almost their whole lives. Others now wonder how they will ever begin again? Many are very concerned for the future of their small children, and what will happen to their homes, and whether they will even have enough money to survive. A few of our participants arrived at the workshop speechless. They had not yet grasped the reality that this was happening to them. And, some of our participants are suffering from fatigue. They have been trying to fix their marriage for years but arrived at the workshop having lost all hope.
One of the reasons we exist as a church is to help people feel loved and valued, because God loves and values each of us. At Richmond’s First Baptist Church we are doing our best to help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond. This Fall our church embarked on a year-long mission trip here in Richmond to help people discover a future with hope! We do this because we know Jesus wants us to do this. We also do this because we have discovered the power and benefits of love. Loving the people Jesus loves makes our lives more abundant and joyful.
Join us on our mission trip this year to help people discover they have a future with hope!