Jubilee Reading by Catherine Brown

I’ve felt inspired the last couple of weeks from our Hope sermon series to share some thoughts on what it has meant to me to live out my faith because of my present hope in Christ. The Lord has been slowly, graciously leading me into places where I’ve previously been afraid to go.

Throughout the last school year — 2012-2013 — I attended a class on discipleship that was led by the wonderful church consultant, Nathan Mellor.  Admittedly, I entered into this class skeptically about what I would learn that would be new to me, because I was raised in a Christian home and have studied the scriptures for many years.  Up until this time, gaining more academic knowledge was a goal of mine, and I realize now that I didn’t enter the class with a very teachable heart. Nonetheless, the Lord was faithful, and by last spring, a year ago, I was deeply convicted that for some time now, I’d been asking the wrong question. The question is not “What will I learn?” but for me, “What, then, is He asking me to do?”

unnamedBy Catherine Brown

Over the last couple of years, I have met some amazing Christians in Oklahoma City, people who live in parts of the city that scare me, who live more modestly than I want to live. My friend, Tim Ulrich, who renovated the apartments next to the City Rescue Mission, literally befriends and rescues prostitutes AND their drug lords, right here in Oklahoma City! Kim Bandy with The Spero Project loves refugees who move to OKC through the United Nations resettlement program. Most of the families who are resettling don’t speak English, and some can’t read in their own language.  Both Tim and Kim and their spouses have their own families with small children, and they are literally giving their life away every day, because they understand deeply that their life is for other people.

While I do not believe that every person is called by the Lord to found a non-profit, I do think that we are all commanded to love and extend ourselves with the poor among us.  Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

How can we love the City without loving the poor? And, how can we love the poor if we don’t KNOW any poor people?  Somehow I have gotten to be in my early 40s, and up until now I literally didn’t know a single person who is truly poor.

From mid- June to mid-July, my kids and I will be joining with Jubilee Partners’ Summer Kids’ Camp, teaching kids to read.  Through tutoring this year with Jubilee’s after-school program, my boys and I have begun to know these children, and these relationships have been challenging but also a joy.  Until this year, I had never known kids who are hungry.  The kids are sometimes rude; they live by rules in rough neighborhoods that teach that aggression is the only way to survive.  The kids can’t read as well as they should for their ages and grade levels, and they sometimes try to get out of the lessons to avoid admitting what they don’t know.  But, walking alongside these children and their families has been life changing… for my family.  While we have helped the children read better than they did before, loving them has helped my family to understand better the heart of God.

Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” Join me by entering into a new, potentially scary place, where you will see God change lives. These children need tutors and mentors, and whether you are single or married, bringing children with you or don’t have children, these kids need you.  There will be opportunities to help this summer that I’ll post on The City.

For more information or to contact Catherine, please email catbrown02@gmail.com.