by Doug Rehberg
Ed. Note: As Doug looks toward leaving Hebron at the end of this year, he shares this eighth in a series of nine “lessons learned” from his ministry here.
I have a college friend who studied with Peter Berger at Rutgers. In fact, he did his PhD under the guidance of the eminent Austrian-born American sociologist and Protestant theologian. It was during the writing of his doctoral thesis that he traveled by train to Kolkata (Calcutta), India, to do a series of interviews with Mother Theresa.
While in route to Kolkata he almost died, contracting a nasal infection brought on by the ubiquity of dust and air pollutants on the 1,000 mile journey.
When he arrived he was a patient. But after he recovered he determined it was time to get busy doing what he intended to do when he conceived the trip. He says that he distinctly remembered scouring the infirmary looking for the diminutive nun until, at last, he found her by the bed of a leprosy patient.
He said to her, “Mother, I am here to spend time discovering how you are fulfilling God’s call on your life. I’d like to explore with you the nature of your work and ministry.” He says that she instantly handed him a bedpan and said, “Get busy.”
A number of years ago, a few of us were meeting with Dick Johnson, the Founder and Director of World Vision’s World Distribution Center in Sewickley, when he told us pointedly, “I want you to make The Blessing Board into a place where what's preached on Sunday is put into practice the other six days of the week.”
That was the origin of The Blessing Board Engagement Training (BBET) - a nine-hour discipleship training experience that establishes the connection between who each volunteer discovers they are and what God is calling them to do.
That’s always been God’s purpose in redeeming people. His principle purpose is not getting them to heaven, it’s getting them engaged in representing Him on earth. You can search the Scriptures, from Genesis 2 on and see that while our tendency is to hoard God’s blessings and make them all about us, He never, for a second, buys into that lie. God is not speaking in some oriental hyperbole when He says to Abraham, “I will bless you and make your name great, so that through you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Who is the target? Not Abraham! The world!
It’s the same call He gave to Mother Theresa, Dick Johnson, and each of us. It’s a call the leadership of Hebron has known for a long time. That’s why we determined to direct a significant portion of our funding and efforts to maximizing personal engagement in local mission ministries like The Blessing Board, Lost and Found Pharmacy, Urban Impact, PitCare, and others.
Oh the joy of seeing the division between Sunday and every other day fade away. Oh the satisfaction that comes in heeding His call to be a blessing and relinquishing our grip on ourselves, our time, and our talent!