The Compasionate God
By Rev. Edgar Vergara-Millan
The God whom we serve is attentive to us and to the suffering around us. The book of Exodus reminds us that God is paying attention, observing the misery of oppressed peoples, listening to their cries of need, and is constantly aware of their suffering (Exodus 3:7-9). Exodus also reminds that far from remaining idle in the face of human suffering, the God in whom we believe decides to come down and intervene on behalf of those who suffer under this broken world’s systems of oppression. Those of us who, in and through Jesus Christ, profess faith in this God who intervenes on behalf of those who suffer around us, can witness to this reality. The Gospel accounts remind us that when God took on our human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, He paid close attention and became aware of the suffering around him. His present awareness moved Him to compassion towards those who suffer. Matthew reminds us that when Jesus looked at the people around him, he felt compassion for those who were harassed and helpless, for those who were as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36-37). It is this compassionate and proactive God who called Moses and the Disciples to join a mission for the redemption and restoration of this broken and unjust world. It is this compassionate and proactive God who calls you and me, calls our local churches, and calls our United Methodist Church, to join the redemptive and restorative mission of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. If we are to be faithful to God’s call we must be attentive to the reality that those around us, who suffer under the systems of oppression of this world, live in daily. We must intentionally open our eyes to see the injustice they are subjected to. We must intentionally open our ears to hear their cries of need. Seeing and hearing will lead us to awareness, and awareness should lead to compassionate action. In order for us to see and to hear, we must humbly step into the spaces where suffering is a daily reality. It is there that we will realize that our compassionate God is most definitely already at work in the person of the Holy Spirit. It is by stepping into those spaces where oppression is rampant that the Spirit will inspire and empower us to join in the redemptive and restorative mission of Jesus Christ.
In July of 2014, the people of City Road UMC in Henderson, NC, remaining true to their historic identity of being a church of the community and for the community, made a valiant decision to join God’s redemptive and restorative mission for their community and its surrounding areas. The church decided to welcome the core group of families that formed the Hispanic/Latino New Faith Community that I had been leading in the same city. Through the ministry led by this core group of disciples, City Road UMC decidedly and lovingly opened its doors to their Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Middle-Eastern neighbors. Since then, this growing multicultural community of faith has brought hope into its community by sharing the love of God in practical and meaningful ways. We have the privilege of taking part in God’s redemptive and restorative mission in Henderson, NC and its surrounding areas as we serve with our immigrant neighbors through tutoring ministries with children, mentoring ministries with youth, and education and advocacy ministries with adults. We invite you to open your eyes and ears. We invite you to become aware of the suffering around you by humbly stepping into the spaces where suffering and oppression is a daily reality. It is there that the Spirit of God will inspire and empower you to join in God’s compassionate mission where you live and where you worship. And we also invite you to join us in prayer and to support our efforts of ministry as we ourselves daily join God’s mission here in Henderson, NC and its surrounding areas serving with migrant families.