Stories of people losing their faith in God in the face of an unbearable tragedy are painful to hear but really are not all that unusual. That’s why I was intrigued by Holly Burkhalter’s Good God, Lousy World and Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist From Unbelief to Faith, a 2015 Reading Program book that I’m now reading. Ms. Burkhalter was reared Christian, the granddaughter of Mennonite missionaries to India. The little faith that she still had after witnessing her grandfather’s death and grandmother’s subsequent mental breakdown was decimated when, as a human rights advocate, she witnessed the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 in which about 800,000 Tutsi women, children and men were killed by their Hutu neighbors. Ms. Burkhalter asked where was God when her faithful grandmother needed help or when a brutal genocide was underway? She stopped believing most of the time. The rest of the time she cussed out whatever deities might possibly exist.
No evangelical outreach campaign touched Ms. Burkhalter’s questions or curses. Rather, God used life, love and work with Christian human rights advocate friends to weave a lifeline of faith for Ms. Burkhalter.
Which brings us to United Methodist Women and this issue of response. Faith, hope, love in action is not just a tag line for United Methodist Women. They are the unique gifts we as United Methodist Women members, as Christians, bring to hands-on service and justice advocacy. Other service or advocacy organizations do many of the things that we do, some even more efficiently. But never underestimate God’s grace and power to transform lives—or weave lifelines of faith—that are lodged within your God-given gifts of faith, hope and love in action.
This issue of response comes as we enter the season of Lent. We pray this issue will help as you reflect on Jesus’ life, teachings and sacrifice and on how we are living out Christ’s call to discipleship through United Methodist Women.