Waters will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

Isaiah 35:6

My son was three years old when the concept of Families Building Faith (FBF) came to me. It took me
almost two more years before I became brave enough to put forward the framework of what I saw. It
is now 16 years later. We have gone through both good times and difficult ones—in society as a whole
and in our own personal journey. We have expanded, contracted and moved with the seasons of life.

As an organization, we are loosely structured on the vision of a network of souls coming together to
build faith, hope and support where and when we could. I never saw FBF as a formal “church” or a
“charity” that helps others. The closest I could come to in defining it was as a fellowship. According to Noah Webster, a “mutual association of persons on equal and friendly terms.” People who held a “joint interest” in growing stronger in their walk with God while reaching out, encouraging and reminding souls that God knows right where they are and sends help. The outreach portion of what FBF does was designed to specifically bring people together…regardless of creed or economics or age…to give souls (families, children, seniors, individuals) a chance to work for the good of others jointly.

Over the years, I found that FBF’s structure lived up to its name. There were many moments where a
kind soul came up to me to hit home that message…that their faith had been encouraged and enlarged.
From the mom who was overwhelmed and tired of the commercialization of Christmas only to leave
refreshed, encouraged and filled with a hope she couldn’t wait to share to the young teen who wanted
to make sure I understood just how much she needed to know that the world wasn’t as full of hate as it
seemed. The young heart just needed to cross over our threshold to experience the hope and joy of
serving God together in diversity. To the very souls who received others’ kindness and whose hearts
grew because of the love that many had generously shared with their time and/or belongings.

Because of God’s good nature and glory, FBF began around 2005. It was 2007 when the reverberations
of the Great Recession began to unfold and cascade into the years following. I had no idea when I
envisioned and started FBF that an economic downturn of that scale was imminently close, but God
knew. We rode out those years learning of more and more souls going without Christmas, Easter
baskets, meals over the summer, without warm coats in the winter, lacking school supplies in the
autumn and spring, and so on. It was during those years, that we, those willing, learned that serving
God was not about proving that we had faith, but rather, it was about following Him even when it was
hard, scary or a bit unclear (hence, when we really needed to have faith in Him and not ourselves) as to
what the benefits or impact would be.

The questions of how were often quieted by the assurance of faith that if God was asking us to do it, we
could trust in Him to bring what was needed…whether it was materials, items, people, time, or
transportation. Over, and over again, He asked us to walk by faith and not by sight. The instructions
frequently were limited to seeing a need and trusting Him that we could somehow meet it. Amid that
growth came the need to communicate. By word of mouth and our newsletter, FBF’s existence and
outreaches grew. People started asking if they could help and the network of willing souls working
together expanded. Kind people from all different backgrounds, with many traversing a good distance,
came together in a myriad of ways to encourage others who were struggling. We developed our
Facebook page, keeping it quiet and simple most of the time with posting only as needed. We built a
website. Through those mechanisms, and in my own personal life, there has been several who have
shared with me the impact that my writing has had on their faith and lives. Struggling to hear that, I
often shook it off choosing to believe my doubt and fear more than the message they were trying to
convey: my writing was another outreach that God was using to encourage and help souls.

So, I currently sit at a crossroads with this pandemic, limited in what we can physically do. I would
better describe it like Jacob in the desert wrestling with an angel. On a journey to a new place, a new
destination, an angel came to him one night and they wrestled until morning. The pandemic came
about 18 months ago. If we count when it began in other parts of the world, we are quickly approaching
two years. For FBF, and the safety of all involved, we prayerfully halted much of what we do in
gathering others together, while quietly maintaining emotional and physical support when needed to
those we normally come alongside. We strove to create programs to maintain contact, but also took
this time to reflect, contemplate and wrestle about what to do next.

I say “next” as if I have been humbly waiting for instructions. Those that know me well know that I have
been sitting on a set of instructions for some time. Wrestling with those instructions and my lack of
faith, taking one step forward every now and again with three steps back. Life in its crazy ability to
interrupt the best of intentions has left me with easy excuses for veering away from what God
repeatedly has nudged me to do: write.

I took off the months of July and August. After a harrowing year personally, with hard experiences
befalling those I love and painful difficulties and uncertainties unfolding for some that I have prayed
about for a long time, I needed some time to recharge and rest. After working with tragedy and trauma
for a long time now, there was a natural buildup of those stories and their hurts in my heart, body and
soul. Late last year, and with plentiful reminders this year, it had become abundantly clear to me and
those closest to me that God has been building–for some time–a deeper purpose to FBF in helping
those who souls have experienced trauma. What many don’t realize is that most walk with a hurt that is
deep within the soul and often unknown to most. Much of my time spent in our outreaches is time
spent tending to those hurts with the information God has given us. Sometimes it is just a sliver of
information the person needs to free themselves from the shackles they are weighed down by, and
other times, it is a bit more…

As my summer and time of rest closes, the numbers for Covid are going up again. The news and
information from around the world are indicating that gathering indoors is not wise. Our indoor
outreaches will likely be unable to happen. At the same time, we are seeing so much pain and anger in
our world. It has become clearer that maybe the writing I have long put off, besides in spurts of here
and there, holds an opportunity to strengthen and tend to more souls right now than we can in-person.
As I put what He has long been teaching us into words, I pray that they will inspire others, open their
eyes and ears to what God needs us to see and hear, and strengthen the walks of those wanting to grow
their faith.

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.’”

Isaiah 35:3-4

Fear has a subtle way of creeping into our walks and sapping our strength. It is something that I have
frequently touched on in past writing, and a topic that has besieged our world. People are fearful of this
virus; others are fearful that they are losing their freedoms. Both have valid components to their
reasoning, though they often do not see where fear holds them captive and connects them in opposition
to each other. Because they cannot see the commonality between them, they cannot respect each
other’s concern. There is fear rising around the globe with much of it wielded as a tool of oppression in
the vast array of relationships that compose society and families. The sooner we see that God can be
trusted more than our fears, the better our world will be become. He tells us to be strong, to not
engage fear, for a reason. The things we are afraid of can lie in the bushes of our lives, much like a jackal
hiding there and cackling to our horror, only to find that those haunts—those bushes–can hold a vastly
different and beautiful potential once those fears are driven out.

While we will continue to do what we can to strengthen and steady souls with encouragement and hope
within the limitations we are facing in this pandemic, addressing fear—speaking to hearts with
encouragement to be strong and trust in God—will need to come through words as well. Our
newsletter will be back online monthly throughout most of the year, and we will be re-introducing
Unfolding God’s Word. From there, we will see where God leads. My guess and hope are that you will
see more words come to the spaces that house FBF’s ability to network.

Please join me in prayer that my commitment to writing become solidified. May it bring forth words
that are nurturing and cleansing, much like the water that God brings to refresh weary souls who may
be caught in the wilderness of life or in the desert of hard times or in the bleakness of waiting. May my
faith to trust Him with this task become like it did when I took a leap of faith and followed Him 18 years
ago in beginning to develop FBF. May His will be done, and glory brought to His Name as we continue to
move as He directs and expand FBF’s outreach to include encouragement and change through the realm
of writing.

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then the lame leap
like a deer, and the mute tongue will be shout for joy. Waters will gush forth in the wilderness and
streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the
haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.”

Isaiah 35: 5-6

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