We hope you will be blessed by this, the first in a series of Christian reflections from Bishop Paul Lanier, The Fellowship‘s Chairman of the Board.
Let me tell you something that happened to me about ten years ago.
I couldn’t sleep. It was very late, about three in the morning. I was sitting on the sofa in our living room, so I had turned on the TV to pass the time.
A rabbi came on the television. I had never seen him before. He was in Ukraine in winter, and It looked so cold that you could practically feel it. This rabbi was visiting people in their homes – decrepit, run-down homes of hurting, struggling people, old men and women in their 80s and 90s who had survived the Holocaust. It was a terribly bleak scene – so much anguish, and heartache, and poverty.
In the midst of all this suffering, this rabbi spoke with such tenderness to and about these people. It was as if he was shining a light into their darkness. He seemed so determined to make a difference in their lives by providing them with what they needed – food, decent clothing, heating, companionship.
He was touching their lives, and in the process he reached out and touched mine as well. Profoundly. I knew I wanted to be part of what he was doing – what the organization he represented, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, was doing.
That rabbi was Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. This, friends, was my introduction to The Fellowship. And I haven’t been the same since.
Part of God’s Plan
Believe it or not, today I am privileged to be chairman of the board of that very organization, The Fellowship. I am part of that very work I heard the rabbi speak of a decade ago as I watched him on television late at night. And while the rabbi has gone on to be with God, sometimes God’s plan for our lives is so great that it takes another generation to continue it. Today I’m privileged to see Rabbi’s daughter, Yael Eckstein, head this amazing organization and follow in her father’s footsteps.
Yael has visited Ukraine too. Maybe you’ve seen her on television making those visits, just like you used to see her father. Yael goes into homes that look like they are just about to fall apart, where people are living lives that look like they’re about to fall apart. And amid all the weeping, the hurting, and the cold, she moves so tenderly and lovingly, as if she were the daughter of those people she’s come to help through The Fellowship. I love watching God use her in such a profound way.
As I watched it, I thought about the extraordinary things that happen every day because of The Fellowship, and how God uses all of us, Christians and Jews alike, to accomplish His purposes. All of us who are involved in this fellowship of Christians and Jews get to be part of what God is doing. What an honor! How great it is that God uses us this way.
Thinking Beyond Ourselves
Right now, we are living in crisis times. We’re having to make difficult decisions and face challenges we never dreamed of. We’re having to give up some precious things. But, though we may have to give up a lot of things during this season, one thing we will not give up is giving. We will not give up helping. It’s an essential part of who we are – it is the foundation of our lives, our families, our ministries, our faith. And I’m just so grateful for the honor to serve, and for all that God lets us do.
I thank God for all the extraordinary men and women who are part of this ministry. I thank Him for all He does in your hearts and souls that causes you to think beyond yourself – to think prophetically. And I thank Him because I believe that He has given us the capacity, the honor, the privilege, of being something that He uses to better the world.
My prayer today is that God will touch you, and let you know how very much He loves you. That you will feel His presence, His power, His healing. And that He will kindle a fire in all of our hearts – a burning desire to be relentless in our pursuit of loving and serving His people.
– Bishop Paul Lanier
Chairman of the Board, The Fellowship