We are stepping out in faith believing at least 500 people will intentionally take next steps to build relational bridges, empowered by the gospel, in their spheres of influence. We hope to be able to share hundreds of these Bridge Building Moments throughout the year. We want to hear your stories so that we can encourage each other and be accountable together. There is no story that is insignificant or too small. Every next step is something to be celebrated! Our staff and elders have begun to take Bridge Building next steps. Here are a few of their stories. We can't wait to add some of yours!
At the Lebanon VA, my team, comprised of two nurses, a pharmacist, a patient service representative, and I face a variety of challenges on a daily basis as we care for our panel of veterans. No two days are identical in primary care. You never know what may come up through the course of the day. About a year ago, I suggested to one of the nurses that we, as believers, pray each day through our list of scheduled patients. Sometimes we pray for known needs, and often just for wisdom and discernment for the day ahead. Over the past year, we have had the opportunity to expand our prayer time, one-by-one, to include each member of our team. From time to time, we’ve invited others to participate, including pharmacy residents and substitute nurses. So now, each morning, before clinic hours, we huddle to review the day ahead, then pray. We usually take turns leading. We have had opportunities to let patients know we’ve prayed for them. And we’ve seen many answers to prayer, sometimes right away. These relational and spiritual bridges among members of my team have unified and strengthened us. I’m convinced we are working better together and providing better care to our panel of veterans.
I am intensely introverted by nature. Starting conversations or relationships (or keeping them going) is not my natural skill set. However, “building bridges” is language that resonates with me. You don’t need a bridge when you’re both on the same side of the water. I want people who are different from each other to really listen, to be able to understand, to get along, and see the good in each other. So right now, I’m trying to establish more and deeper relationships with my neighbors. At the beginning of this year’s COVID lockdown, I began walking around my neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. I started to see some of the same people over and over, so I tried to smile and say, “Hi.” But people were quite wary of other people at that time. Not only didn’t they return my greeting; they often crossed to the other side of the street with their head down. Early in the summer, I sustained an injury that sidelined my regular walking. But I still wanted to be outside, so I pushed myself to get out every four or five days just to make it around my neighborhood circle. Suddenly people smiled at me and said, “Hello,” and “Lovely weather, huh?” Apparently, something about limping around my neighborhood at one-mile-per-hour made me less intimidating. Then this past week, I purchased a cat stroller. Yes, I am now officially the crazy cat lady of the neighborhood. So far, my cat and I have been out twice, armed with dog treats in the stroller basket. I steer right toward the dog-walkers and explain that my cat would like to make dog-friends. This gets some attention! People ask questions about my cat, and I talk about rescuing her from a local shelter where she had arrived as a sick, senior cat from a hoarding situation. I’m learning that if I tell a story, other people want to tell me a story, too. They’ll tell me about their animal rescue, or about which house is theirs, or something about their family. So one step at a time, both Sneezy Bo Beezy and I are working on making friends and building bridges!
As I drive to work every day, at a stoplight in Harrisburg city, I see a young homeless man with a sign asking for money. I always think to myself, "But for the grace of God, that could be me." So, one day, I gave him a scripture card with a few dollars in it. Then, I started taking a granola bar and a piece of fruit, maybe some pretzels, and giving him a bag of food with a dollar or two. I wrote notes telling him that I am praying for him and found out his name is Daniel. When we see each other, he recognizes me with a smile and says, "Hi Erika." Sometimes he shares that he's having a hard time. I don't know why Daniel is homeless yet or about his life, but I’m praying for him. I haven’t seen him now for several weeks, so I just keep praying because winter is coming and my heart is concerned for Daniel.
The coronavirus has been an unexpected obstacle to our way of life. During the initial government shutdown, much isolation was felt as we became separated from one another. I especially missed teaching my ESL friends. Following the shutdown, I felt a strong desire to “build a bridge” by inviting several of these friends over to my house for lunch. As we talked, I discussed the possibility of having a bible study. They all readily agreed, and so we began studying the book of Romans. Soon we will finish that awesome book, and they are asking what we will study next! Nothing can shut down the Word of God!
I enjoy making art with stained glass. My friend, Sharon Semic, and I had our first art show last Sunday. We both enjoyed conversations with people who came to our booths. We made a friend with another artist who also works with glass. We are working on scheduling a breakfast at my home to get to know her. Sharon and I prayed for opportunities for bridge building during this event. It was neat to see God use the craft we enjoy to be a means of making new acquaintances.