HEADlines: God Calls Us to Cultivate Peace in a Barbarian World

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 9/25/21~

“The [Benedictine] monks went into barbarian areas to evangelize, and if the barbarians killed them off, the mother house would send more brothers out. Slowly, these men laid the ground for the rebirth of Christian civilization in the West,” Rod Dreher.

I’m waiting for cold weather. Summer hangs on. But the birds are gathering. Earlier this week, my husband pointed out the first foliage he saw that has begun its transformation from green to glory.

Cold is coming, but there is a warm feeling in the frosty cold. Oxymoronic, I know. A chill allows me to wrap a blanket around myself or warm the kitchen with sweets from the oven. Warm cookies and hot tea and maybe a movie or a book. Peace and comfort. Sounds nice.

The world swirls around us in chaos and violence. We find peace when we shut it all out.

God calls us to peace. But He doesn’t call us to dwell in silence and solitude. He calls us to the barbarian world.

To the world of people who are hungry, lonely, or cold in a way that is unpleasant and seemingly unending. He calls us to take our peace to the chaos. To take Him to the lost. To light a candle in the darkness.

There is a time to go to the world and speak truth. And sometimes the world comes to us. Once, part of the world came to my friend.

Years ago, Anne was working in her office, a storefront pro-life presence near her home, when a young couple walked in and asked for help. They had spent the last of their resources to come to our city for a promised job that fell through. They found themselves without the means to obtain a place to live. Anne let the couple stay in her office while she worked on finding housing for them.

She paid the security deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment and gave them some provisions until assistance benefits began. Eventually, the couple moved to a new area and found solid financial footing. Their problem was temporary, and Anne’s companionship carried them through it. Her investment of some household supplies and two months’ rent got this couple back into the mainstream of society.

Anne had long since grown from taking in lost puppies to housing unwed pregnant girls and sponsoring Vietnamese refugees. Over the years, she welcomed many road-weary travelers into her home. When my husband Paul first came to Altoona to meet me, he was a guest at Anne’s house.

Anne was the face of the Church extending her hand to those in need. She didn’t just look for people to help. They came to her. She served the ones God placed in her path.

One afternoon, my phone rang. Another friend of mine Cindy had encountered a homeless couple who had come to her office seeking help. Cindy and her husband, and my husband and I split the cost of a hotel for a week for the couple.

It had been 19 degrees Fahrenheit the night before they came to see Cindy. They had been out in that all night. I thought of how easily I could escape the cold and how awful it would be to be trapped outside in it.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn asked: “Can a man who’s warm understand one who is freezing?”

We wanted to be among those who understand.

We helped them a few more times before they disappeared. I don’t know what happened to them. But I do know that, for parts of a harsh fall and winter, they could feel warmth.

When we go to bed tonight, 17 more (on average) Americans will be homeless than were yesterday. And 17 more will become homeless tomorrow. And on it goes.

Long-term homeless people have a life expectancy of 50 years.

And today, tens of thousands of college students are homeless.

A few years ago, I learned that one of the students sitting in my classroom was living in her car. She disappeared before I could offer help.

Many people around us are homeless. Some will escape from the poverty they experience. Some will disappear to the streets for the long-term, to a shorter lifespan, to a prison of the elements—too cold, too hot, too wet.

We may not single-handedly be able to help them out of homelessness the way Anne helped the couple she encountered. But we can bring them encouragement. We can be a light along their way.

Every homeless person is a prodigal or a wounded traveler. Each one is our neighbor. Individuals can help. The church, acting as a local congregation and in union with others, can offer the companionship and community the homeless need to give them a chance to escape the net of poverty.

Portions of this article are excerpted from Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord.

Photo Credit: Kevin Schmid, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

14 Replies to “HEADlines: God Calls Us to Cultivate Peace in a Barbarian World”

  1. Congratulations on your book. It sounds wonderful! Because of my lifestyle I listen to a lot of audiobooks. When I have time to just sit and read, it’s the Bible or blogs. Do let us know when “Restoring the Shattered” is out on audio, and I’ll get it in my queue.

  2. These are significant truths to keep in mind, for these realities are what call us to action: “Every homeless person is a prodigal or a wounded traveler. Each one is our neighbor. Individuals can help.” With these realities and the Holy Spirit’s urging, we can accomplish much for God’s own people in need.

  3. The world does seem very lonely for many. They are so many suffering around us and we need to stand in the gap for them. We need Christians to do their parts. Thanks for sharing this information

  4. Beautiful post, Nancy. God puts love, compassion and understanding in our hearts, and we need to step up and love generously and freely, as He loves us.

  5. Anne certainly does depict the face of the church. Homeless people are all around us, we see them on the streets and hear about the kids in local schools living in their car. Lord, help us be your hands.

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