James (Dip '73) and Sarah (Wendy) Smith
It seems forever ago that my wife, Sarah and I, attended and lived on or near Multnomah University’s campus. During that time two of our three children were born and we began the adventure of serving Jesus vocationally rather than pursuing the career of my previous education. During those formative years at Multnomah, as a new Christian, we learned that God was true to His word.He taught us that it is He “who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” and that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” As God provided for our financial, physical and spiritual needs at Multnomah we learned we could truly trust him to care for us no matter the circumstance we would face in our future.
During years of missionary, pastoral and educational ministry here and abroad, we have learned at least one of the reasons the wisdom of James is true. He tells us that one of the marks of “true and undefiled religion” is to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” When people have been laid low by tragic loss or have to live without the usual relationships and resources, life can be messy and difficult. Ministering to those in this segment of society is often time consuming and sometimes disappointing. Add to that the reality they often lack the financial resources and time to “give back” and we can see why the Holy Spirit would use caring for them as a marker of true and living faith.
True and Living Faith
We were surprised by God’s invitation to serve in this type of ministry. During the last 11 years Sarah and I have served broken families and out-of-control teens. These families, especially the teens, are not impressed by advanced degrees, ordination, or books written. They want to know if anyone genuinely cares. We weren't looking for a new ministry category to be involved in but it found us. We found ourselves out of our comfort zone, up close and personal with people who have difficulty giving back and success is measured by staying out of juvenile detention, in school, mostly clean and sober, and not pregnant. They are not attracted to doctrinal dogma, glitzy services, or lengthy sermons, but they do respond to the love of Christ...it makes sense to them.
Jesus is still doing a good work in us and moving us toward the path of completion at the day of Jesus Christ. He is certainly using a different slice of the population today as one of his vehicles for change in our lives...and I trust he will never stop.
About the Author
Jim and Sarah (Wendy) Smith now live in Goldendale, Washington, where Jim is the Program Director for the Project Patch Family Life and Conference Center. Jim has created a three day experiential learning program appropriate for all families that covers temperaments, communication, family roles, parenting styles & generational issues, values and boundaries. This is done in a comfortable, safe environment at the eight room lodge with great meals and hospitality provided.