Tag Archives: church

The role of community in healing: a series of staff writings


What does it mean to be a healing community?

In my perspective, one of the main roles of a healing community is to become a new, spiritual family for people who are broken. The deepest human need is for the unconditional love of a father and a mother, and many have not received this love or suffered harm at the hands of their parents. Through the love of our Heavenly Father, the Church can express holy love that fills in the gaps and heals the wounds caused by our natural families. In this context, people can learn how to form new, healthy relationships. (To read more about this, ask me about a really wonderful article called Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You by a group called The Shepherd’s House.)

I see this type of family bonding or “adoption” happening inside the Good Works community to some degree. My mind goes to the loyal friendships that have been formed between particular staff members, Senior Friends, and former residents to name a few. Yet, I believe God can take us deeper in becoming a spiritual family for each other and those we serve. Our everyday choices can lead us towards greater capacity for love: we must choose every day to grow in our own maturity (healing), and to strengthen our relationships with each other. Having done this, when the time comes for us to embrace someone in need, whoever they may be, we will be prepared.

Finally, I believe that healing—an action of God—happens as the Church knows the good will of God and asks God to release this goodness into someone’s life. God wants us to ask, and persist in asking. A healing community brings broken people to Jesus through their prayers of faith. When we really don’t know how or what to pray, we know the Holy Spirit is interceding for us according to God’s will.

What does it mean to be a healing community? We ask God for gifts of healing, we help people reconcile to Jesus, the Healer, we walk with each other in the delicate process of growth, we embrace broken people in love, and most of all, we wait patiently, in hope for the day when all will be well.

— Dawn Tobin

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Filed under Food for thought, Wrestling with issues of perspective

the Body of Christ (a series of staff reflections)

Many minds and hearts from different backgrounds coming together to effect change as one body. The following series is this body, the Good Works body, searching for the answer to “What does it mean to be the Body for the world, in the world and for the glory of God?” We all have different perspectives, different questions to be answered in this layered question. Our hope is that we may be able to start a dialog, not just within this body, but with you.

What does it mean to be the body of Christ, in the world, for the world, for the glory of God?


Sunday morning: Again I am faced with the question of church. Where should I go? I sigh, discomfort twisting amidst threads of thought. It has been more than two years since I moved to Athens. Why haven’t I found a church? Is there something wrong with me, or my attitude? I have tried. But, somehow I haven’t been able to connect. I am twenty-four and can’t seem to rattle myself into sitting through another church service.

Tuesday morning: I am with my friends and coworkers. “Good mornings” and coffee mugs crowd the dining room. The residents of the shelter have headed out for the day, and we meet where they ate breakfast. Someone closes the door against the incessant ringing of the phone, thank goodness. Staff members answer the phone all day—talking with many people—those seeking shelter or help with bills, eager donors, and each other as we maintain the daily operations of this organization. But now, it is time to quiet ourselves for prayer, song, scripture sharing…story-telling, collage-making, walking… hearing testimonies, honest fears and encouragement.  In my week of work, this is a sustaining hour.

My parents are Mennonite missionaries, yet I didn’t grow up going to church. When people ask me about my church background, I am usually tempted to say that I grew up in the “Isaan rice-farmers’ house church” denomination. My sisters and I spent dusty Sundays visiting newly formed groups of Thai believers. For me, this meant bumpy rides out to various villages, politely sitting on the floor for many hours and straining to interact in my limited language abilities. The meetings and the meals that followed were simple, and sometimes “poor.”  Yet, these villagers were experiencing the power of God in profound ways—dreams, physical healing, and restored relationships. I didn’t always understand or appreciate what was going on around me at the time, but looking back I glimpse something mysteriously real, and beautiful.

These days, I spend my Sunday mornings exploring the village of Chauncey. A run-down town in Southeast Ohio, it is far from Asia. I find myself surprisingly energized to be there: meeting people from the Chauncey Church of God, Chauncey Faith Chapel and Chauncey Christian Church. I am a curious visitor, and I feel as though these sincere churchgoers have a hard time understanding me.  I haven’t yet found words to explain my hopes and intentions to them, because my purpose feels somewhat “other.” Some day soon, I hope to live in this used-to-be coal mining community and take part in its culture. I hope for the movement of God in which I, along with others, can link arms with the local believers to continue to express Christ through our joined body.

These are a few of the angles from which I approach the question of what it means to be the Church. I do not intend to answer exhaustively, but rather to speak about several aspects that seem most significant to me.

— Dawn Tobin

(To read the rest of Dawn’s article about the Church, visit www.good-works.net, click on “Who We Are” and go to Dawn’s bio page. The article is titled The Body of Christ.)

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I have been thinking recently about the idea of mutuality: where people stand in relationship, each bringing truth and life to one another.

The root word “mutual” means:

1. done, felt, or expressed by each toward or with regard to the other

2. with the same feelings, or in the same relationship to each other

3. shared by or common to two or more people or groups

I would like to explore the power of mutuality for times when Christians gather together for the purpose of encouragement, education and recommitment to Christ within the presence of God. I hesitate to use the word “church” because I find that many people’s minds lean towards a building rather than a ‘people called out’ from the world and ‘set-apart’ for a special purpose. How would our gathering together be transformed if we placed significant value on mutuality?

In this setting, the role of leadership would look more like the conductor of the orchestra. Quietly but emphatically lifting her hands, she creates an environment where each participant not only discovers something they have to give but is given permission and place to share it. Each person has the opportunity to offer of themselves and receive from others in church.

Mutuality takes on beautiful possibilities in the face of inequality and difference. I believe mutuality can enliven our communities when engaging people who are illiterate, those with limited education, people with disabilities and those with poor social skills. A serious practice of mutuality invites just about anyone, maybe everyone, to the place where they see themselves as having something valuable to contribute.

Isn’t it part of our calling from God to help others find ways to communicate the “treasure” that is inside them? I am totally energized by helping someone to see something in themself that they have not yet seen or validating a gift they have seen but has been previously unrecognized by others. I experience personal ‘revival’ when I join with someone to find a way of sharing their hidden treasure with others. Perhaps some of the mystery of the kingdom of God is revealed here. What do you think?

— Keith Wasserman

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Filed under Wrestling with issues of perspective