So my Dad passed along some excellent thoughts recently that have dovetailed nicely with some things that we have seen while working here in Nairobi.
Dad mentioned that we know in some way that Peter (in Acts 2) was quite convinced that what had just happened (Pentecost) was in
some way a fulfillment of Joel 2:28 which says:
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Of course this is usually thought of in connection with spiritual or apocalyptic visions of sorts, which is fine, but Dad made the connection that part of the incoming of the Kingdom of God resides in the striking ability of both men and women to dream & envision what God can do through them as well as being attentive to the newness of God springing up all around them.
Dad continued in saying that he had recently read a World Vision newsletter and a lady from Bangladesh caught his attention when she said, “When we were poor, our dream was limited, but today we are ending our poverty, and because of this I [see] more dreams.”
The connection Dad makes here is that the enemy is ever on the move to crush people’s visions and hopes for what is possible with God and to rob people of any shred of joy through all sorts of ways – but in particular for many this comes through the daily grind of poverty.
So part of the work of the Church is to be the embodiment of hope through speaking out and creating space for the proclamation of the “freedom for the captives” to be heard (Isa. 61.1).
And here is where I feel that Missions of Hope and the microfinance program – in connection with the church – is just one example of
creating a bit of space for new possibilities and hopes to be dreamt and envisioned. As one of the psalmist’s tells us, ‘people die for lack of vision’. Even if the opportunity is not seized upon (and sometimes it isn’t), it is at least there, available. And the Church must be this tangible availability of God’s action in the world.
If you think about it – even the mere potentiality of a dream or a hope is what keeps us all going. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything we hope for is true to God’s work in us and in the world – but that is yet another way in which the Church comes alongside to embody and help people envision what it is that is worth hoping for, and what it is (or who it is) that will not fail us, unlike so many of our hopes.
So from Dad’s insights to Peter’s declaration and to the lady in Bangladesh’s recognition – we see that there is always room for newness to be seen and dreamt; and this, please God, is a part of the Church’s role in praying for and embodying ‘God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven’.