Friday, November 27, 2009

Worth Dressing Up For

Posted by Susan

Galas aren’t my thing, which is probably no surprise to anyone who knows me very well at all. Give me a comfortable sweatshirt and a well broken in pair of jeans, with sandals and mismatched socks on my feet and I’m happy. I’ve always been that way. Even on my wedding day it wasn’t about my dress, trust me. There’s something about spit and polish on the outside that just doesn’t ring my chimes. Other people enjoy that, and God bless them. But it just ain’t me.

So when the notice came through our head office that there was a “Gala Fundraiser” dinner coming, I geared myself up for a boring evening of feeling like a fish out of water and, though I passionately support the cause, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the event itself. I was comforted by the fact that there would be people there that I know and care about and who love me too. But I really would rather spend time with them somewhere else – like around a campfire, or flopped around the living room on comfortable chairs. But I ordered four tickets anyway, and Ron and I invited another couple to go with us. At least the food and the fellowship would be good, I told myself.

Well, there is much to tell about the evening. I really did enjoy myself, even though I was probably the most dressed-down person there (I’m learning not to let that bother me!) The biggest surprise of the evening, however, as far as I was concerned, was someone with the same last name as me!

Brian Stewart is a familiar face in Canada. He is one of the best known Canadian journalists of our time, having worked on CBC’s flagship news program, “The National” for many years - as a foreign correspondent. He shared with us riveting stories of going “where angels fear to tread” on the front lines of breaking news stories around the world, often in terrifyingly dangerous situations.

Brian Stewart is a Christian. Unabashedly and unashamedly – a Christian. That seems a little hard to believe considering his respect as a journalist in this country for our nationally owned broadcasting company which is fraught with secularism and political correctness. He shared the story at that gala of how he came to be a believer and I’ve never heard a more eloquent or more riveting story. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, go!

Brian Stewart was the first North American journalist to break the news to the world of the 1984/85 famine in Ethiopia. He spoke to us of the hellish and frightening conditions there and many other places – like the jungles of El Salvador, and how close he came to death. He witnessed first hand an untold amount of human suffering – more than most of us would ever be able to bear.

But in the and through the pain he witnessed something time and again that turned his inner world upside down. It turned him, this highly intelligent and eloquent man, into a believer - a follower of Christ.

Brian told us first-hand story after story of how Christians were always “there”. In fact they were there before the newsmen. They were there standing with those who were suffering and persecuted and often in terrible danger. They were there with passion and compassion. With humility and servitude. They were always there.

It was one of the most encouraging and exciting talks I have ever heard. The world would have us believe that the Church is puny and ineffective and irrelevant to today’s unfolding events, unaware and uninvolved in the real issues. But that’s just not true. Brian saw them there again and again – in fact he didn’t say they were “sometimes” there. They were “always” there. Making a difference. Standing for Truth. Sharing the love of Christ. Sent in to stand with and stay with those who were suffering and in mortal danger, representing the Kingdom of God and fulfilling its purposes. Glory, Glory, hallelujah. His Truth is marching on.

It was quite a talk all, right. I daresay it was worth dressing up for. And that’s saying a lot.

There was so much more to that evening than just Brian Stewart’s address. But I’ll leave that for another post for another day.

Over to you, Belinda.


Dave Hingsburger said...

Susan, neither Joe or I own a suit or tie. We go fancy places with the intention to pull down the tone a little. I think it's a kind thing to do because everyone else who was worried about wearing a dress or a tie for a lost time ... they see us and then just put the worry out of their minds ... everyone has a ministry susan ... sounds like a great evening

Belinda said...

Wow, Susan, how can I possibly "take it from here?" :)You did such a wonderful job of describing that evening. But...I do have a photo of you in your "glad rags" and it will accompany my post of tomorrow.:)

As for what Brian Stewart said, it was so profoundly moving and is the basic reason why, when I heard of a 16 year old son of a colleague from another agency, raising money for Kenya, I immediately donated. I want to encourage that kind of selflessness; "altruism;" which is what spoke to Brian louder than any sermon could have done.