This week a number of people with some degree of profile in the Christian world have died. I’ve watched the outpouring of grief and the recognition from many of how these people have impacted them personally, often from a distance, through books, speaking engagements and the significant choices that these people made in how they lived and what they gave themselves to.
One of these people, a man named Bruce Chapman, who many of you won’t have heard of, died on Tuesday morning. Bruce was involved in youth ministry leadership from the late 80s. He and his family moved to Darwin from Sydney just over a decade ago, where he has been the Anglican Diocesan Youth Minister with Bush Church Aid. As he ministered there, he chose to keep giving himself to the cause of young people growing in their faith, alongside his journey with melanoma. This commitment, and his passion for young people, encourage me to continue to press on in giving of myself so that more young people might be strongly grounded in their knowledge and love of Jesus.
Another person who has died this week is Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities where “people with and without intellectual disabilities create places of welcome and celebration, sharing in life together.”
Starting in 1964, there are now more than 150 L’Arche communities in 38 countries around the world. (For those of you familiar with the writing of Henri Nouwen, these are the communities that he was a part of and that he speaks of in some of his writings.) Over the years I’ve been significantly influenced and challenged by Vanier’s work, especially his book Community and Growth. Some of my favourite quotes from that book are:
“Be close to those God has given you in community today”;
“Sometimes it is easier to hear the cries of poor people who are far away than it is to hear the cries of your brothers and sisters in your community”;
“The poor reveal to those who have come to ‘help’ them their own poverty and vulnerability”;
“Members of a community have to be friends of time. They have to learn that many things will resolve themselves if they are given enough time”;
“We are all responsible for the atmosphere of the community”;
“The more we become people of action and responsibility in our community, the more we must become people of contemplation”.
His was a life well-lived that powerfully impacted the world. It encourages me to live likewise.
These two people have been rich towards God. Their lives inspire us as we follow Jesus. They inspire me in ways that Jesus calls us to. Who is inspiring you to be rich towards God at the moment?