My last blog gave an abstract vision of love.
The story of my sister Sarah and a precious bhest were part of the catalyst for a more concrete idea.
The other part of the inspiration process was a scammer who claimed to have cancer and promised me a windfall. They said they wanted their untold millions to go to a man (yours truly) who would use it for Christian charity.
That flirtation with the thought of having a great amount of wealth to spend for a cause I thought worthy enough led to a vision of a farm. The idea would be a farm that combined the biggest asset Mennonites have to offer (their families) with those who needed it most.
You see, church attendance, for someone without the family structure, is not enough to meet their social needs and single mothers need more. A welfare check and public housing is wholly inadequate to meet the needs of many of these abandoned women and their children.
Our duty to love the widow and the orphan is clear.
We as true people of faith do not have an option here, we have a moral duty as those called to be perfectly merciful as God is perfectly merciful (Matthew 5:48, Luke 6:36) and desiring to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Specifically, as it pertains to this blog and the vision, it means taking up this divine task:
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5)
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:18)
That is the heart of God. And those who seek fellowship with God will share in His own heart and create their own visions around His cause. James tells us:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
We live in a time where most basic needs are met and this could be used as an excuse. One could shirk their own God-given responsibilities by saying that government programs provide. Or use Scripture as a legalist would and claim that since social needs aren’t specifically mentioned there is no reason to fill them.
However, our culture, with the breakneck pace we live, is probably not the same as a city or village in the time the book of James was written. And—despite our connectedness via technology and social media—many people are without close friends or family support and single mothers are especially vulnerable.
So, anyhow, at this point if you don’t agree or can’t see the need you probably can stop reading here. But I’m guessing most of my readership is interested in knowing more and will continue to the specific idea.
A farm and vision to bring family to those without.
I did not grow up on a family farm. However, like many conservative Mennonites, I was one step removed from agriculture and would often visit my grandparents farm. Three of my uncles, carrying on the work of their father, all live in close proximity to each other and run the farm together.
To me my uncles have something in that farm which few people do anymore and that being a true sense of community. They work together towards a common goal, their labor is for each other as much as it is for personal gain and it seemed to me an ideal place as a child. There is something special about a family farm.
So, as a result of that childhood experience, my love for both Sarah and bhest, as well as the scammer giving me reason to dream, my vision is to bring that family farm experience to single mothers and their children. I believe it would be the ideal environment for teaching basic life skills and helping to end the cycles that lead to generational poverty.
What I picture is two or three healthy families paired with a single mother and her children. The idea would be to have seperate houses within easy walking distance of each other, common meals at least once a day and plenty of working together in the way strong Mennonite families do.
There would be gardening, maybe a garage for mechanical work or wood shop. I would prefer that it be a sustainable effort that doesn’t depend on outside help besides start up cost. The size and scope of the farming operation would depend on who is involved and the more other trades or talents the better.
I believe many single mothers and their children need this kind of real loving investment to thrive. This is a need right here at home (North America for me) and places like the Philippines. It is an adaptable vision. The work could center on a bakery or restaurant so long as there is working together and an opportunity to teach.
What is needed to make this vision a reality?
This vision requires normal people like you. Perhaps you are a mother escaping abuse or abandoned. Maybe you are part of a Christian home and wish to share that great wealth of family you have with those who do not. Or you could be a businessman looking for a tax write-off and investment. This is your opportunity.
If you share this vision or something like it. Please comment your own ideas below, describe what you are able to offer towards an effort like this and share this blog post with your friends of like faith and love for those most vulnerable.
The Gospel is not about singing on the subway or shoving tracts into faces. It is not about flying to exotic locations with the cool religious people either. No, it is about Jesus who literally fed, physically healed and said his followers would do greater things.
Single mothers struggling to survive don’t need a lecture about sin or salvation. What they really need is commitment and love that they can’t understand which in time will open their hearts to receive the fullness of God’s grace.