“…this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” Isaiah 58:6, 7 NLT
We looked forward to this weekend with great excitement for more than a month. We had tickets to spend “An Evening with a Legend”. Harry Belafonte was the guest of honor at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center & Museum and we anticipated an evening of entertainment and laughter. Of course at eighty seven years old we knew that there would be some limitations to how much entertaining he could do but that did not matter. How often does one get to sit twenty five feet from Harry Belafonte? It was one of those opportunities of a lifetime.
The program included dinner, a video biography, music by Roberta Gumble and a live interview of Mr. Belafonte by 41 Action News Weekend Anchor and reporter, Cynthia Newsome. We watched and listened as he answered questions about his life and his work as an entertainer, civil rights leader, and humanitarian. He shared his values, mission and philosophy of life. That which was anticipated, entertainment, very quickly became admiration, inspiration, self-reflection and motivation to be a part of something greater. The Bible shares a principle of change that cannot be ignored, “By beholding we become changed”. I don’t think there is a person who was in that room on Saturday October 5, 2013 who was not challenged to do more with their life.
There is much that is right in our world but there is also much that is wrong with it. Without leaving the shores of this great nation we can find many things that need change but will not change unless we do something about it. Indeed we do not have to look beyond the boundaries of the Kansas City Metropolitan area to see many wrongs that need setting right; poverty, hunger, gun violence, drug trafficking and addiction, inequities in the justice system, education inequity, abuse in families, bullying, social inequity, unemployment and the list goes on.
The Spiritual Ambassador motto is, “The Power of One”. Can one person make a difference? History has shown us that one can make a difference. People like, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi believed in the power of one, look at the impact their lives had on the world. Jesus was one who influenced twelve who influenced the world. You don’t have to save a nation, but you must do what you can where you are. In February of 2013, one SMMC Spiritual Ambassador had an idea to start a food pantry to support coworkers who might find themselves in need of help. On September 25th, 2013, that idea became a reality and the “Friends Helping Friends” food pantry is now available to serve the needs of coworkers.
Our mission calls on us to improve health through Christian service. Service is love in action. Taking no action is withholding your love and the world is made poorer by that inaction.
Be a blessing.
Mark A. Stoddart, M.Div.
Administrative Director for Spiritual Wellness
Shawnee Mission Medical Center