It was this picture that made it click. Two young girls helping to paint a house on a community-wide multi-denominational work day. I realized that this was the answer and we’ve had it all along. It’s not flashy. It’s not something any government contractor will be able to monetize. But, it is the most effective weapon we have to counter the work of terrorists and people intent on making statements via mass destruction, mayhem, and death.
It’s not painting that will solve the problem. It’s not even children who will save the day or the future – well not per se. The weapon we have is HOPE. Those young girls were involved in a HOPE attack executed through careful planning and undertaken by people dedicated to operating on the fringes of society.
The churches of our area made a concerted effort to blanket the city with acts of love and kindness. They painted houses and they rebuilt porches. They made access to homes safer and took down tree limbs that threatened to take out the roof in the not-too-distant future. These young girls in the picture were part of a force of people who made others believe that love is alive and that generosity and kindness can rule the day. That’s what is otherwise known as HOPE.
Our church has a recently adopted mission statement that at first blush seems nebulous and abstract. But, as you let it sink in, as you begin to imagine how you can live into this statement, when you put it against the backdrop of bombings and devastating industrial accidents, it becomes the evident solution for the world we live in. The statement?
Helping people experience the HOPE of Jesus Christ
It happens when people give up their Saturday to cut down a big dead tree in the front yard of their neighbors. It happens as people replace siding and shingles and repaint a house. It happens when we take our children along with us and show them what it means to love our neighbors – even the ones we have not yet met. The more we can help others experience the hope of Jesus Christ through the followers of Jesus Christ, the less impact the terrorists have. When the people who say they love God and seek to love others go and truly love with their hands and feet, they paint a picture that begins to cast a shadow over the pictures of the tragedies. We don’t want people to ignore or forget what happened. But neither do we want people to believe all is lost.
The counter move to terrorism is kindness. To counter acts of violence we must fill the world with acts of love. To change fear into hope we must continue to blanket our community. We must begin to know our neighbors – across the street, across town, and across racial, ethnic, economic, and religious lines.
Two young girls and many others, led by parents and pastors and friends, fired a warning shot across the bow of the ship of fear and terror. Don’t bother trying. You can’t win. Hope is our weapon of mass rejuvenation. And the leader we follow has already taken out your threat of death and destruction. We will not bow down and we will not stop.
Holy high-five to you,