A Fashion Show as a Model for the Church
I didn’t expect a fashion show would be part of our time in Peru, nor did I expect it would have so many lessons as I sat down alongside the runway. However, the example of a body of faith we have seen in Iglesia del Nazareno Negritos all week was put forward into a perfect illustration of what God designed the church to be.
With the support of Thorncreek Church, Iglesia del Nazareno has purchased sewing machines and started a sewing workshop to be a small business to further their ministry, to provide a vehicle to reach the mothers of sponsored children from the project, and to teach and empower women with a skill to help support their families.
The ladies of this ministry made dozens of beautiful outfits and hosted us in a great celebration of the launching of this ministry.
Some lessons I learned by observing this church in action....
We should be passionate, creative, and have a sense of urgency in reaching out to our communities. Our ministries should be born of intense desire to care for our communities, and the lost and broken around us, but the vehicle or form of ministry may be unique to a particular need. We must be diligent in our observation of those needs and take responsibility to act. The endless needs in our community should stir us and move us and we must guard against resting in contentment of our own met needs.
The church should be known for its love, and seen as a light and a hope. The love of the people of Negritos is rich and strong. They are a family with deep care for each other and for those around them. Families come to the church asking for their children to be sponsored because the effects of their love and investment in these children are apparent to all in the community. They have also poured out their love toward our team in a way that cannot be described, preparing for us a great feast, entertainment, giving us gifts and caring for us individually. You cannot outgive the poor.
The body of Christ has many parts, each with a different purpose, that work together. The church family used this event to celebrate and include even the youngest children, adolescents and adults in ministry. Diverse talents – sewing, cooking, drama, teaching – were used in the service of the Lord. We must remember that we each have talents to be used for God’s purposes.
The church is a glimpse of Heaven. The event they hosted for their own church body and for our team was such a celebration of what God is doing, the fruits of their ministry and of our partnership, and of our commonness as children of God. Our differences – age, culture, language, appearance – are small, when we are aware that we are brothers and sisters in the family of God. I can’t wait to celebrate with my Peruvian family in Heaven!
The church is a multigenerational body and the role of each one of every age in service and love is critical. One thing that I have been most impressed by is seeing people of all ages working together and encouraging one another, and actively and cheerfully serving in ministry. The people of this church are so faithful giving of their time, and raising up the next generation of leaders. Since I was blessed to return to Peru after visiting 4 years ago, I have seen some of the same children I met then now very eagerly giving of their time day after day serving alongside us, leading in worship, and encouraging those coming up behind them.
We should build up the weak and the poor and empower people with their identity in Christ. What a blessing to see an impoverished woman dressed beautifully and celebrated as she walks down a runway! As Christians we exist to empower and bless people, and to care for those who are forgotten, discouraged, and poor. The poverty around us is not just resource or economic poverty, but emotional and spiritual poverty, and lack of opportunity. The needs are endless, and our resources cannot begin to eliminate the poverty around us, but we have the greatest resource in the gospel of Christ. Resource poverty deprives people of their self-worth, yet none of us is worthy of the grace of the Lord. Again, after building a relationship with my own sponsored child’s family and with the people of Iglesia del Nazareno, I have seen God working in their lives to replace their broken identities with their image in the eyes of Christ.
So friends, I too very often fall short of these ideals, but this church and congregation has been a great blessing to me. I encourage us all to see the needs around us, to be moved by them, and to remember the great hope you have that the world needs.
It has been said by others, but cannot be overstated...please sponsor children. The work of Compassion International is amazing. I have witnessed with my own eyes the immense fruits in individual lives, the church and community and I know the impact will be unimaginable and eternal as we support the local church in raising children out of the desperation of poverty and training them up as leaders in His church. And...write, write, write! The opportunity you have to speak life, encouragement and the hope of the Lord into a family and community through one child’s life is a great blessing we have...let’s not waste it. This $38 per month investment, along with your investment of time and love, are one of the most high-yield investments there is!
Dios le bendiga! (God bless!)