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What can I do?
by Sally Ann Smith

The 2009-2010 Richmond Christian Leadership Institute (RCLI) class just wrapped up, and I’d like to share with you some of my treasured details and insights from this experience.

With RCLI, I’ve learned more about the specific spiritual needs and opportunities in Richmond through hands-on experiences such as eating lunch with trailer park residents, touring the city jail, roundtable discussions with area immigrants, walking along the slave-trail, and staying the night at Richmond Hill. In addition, we built our knowledge through local expert lecturers and readings about topics such as education, land and housing usage, race relations, poverty and crime, unemployment, immigration and multiculturalism, media, and political influence. After each learning opportunity, our denominationally and racially diverse group gathered to discuss, pray and challenge each other to explore solutions and resolutions. In these small group times, we turned from being representatives of sundry church bodies across the metro area into a people with a common passion for Christ’s radical love.

Personally, I’ve been mostly challenged to step out of my seemingly utopian Near West End life, understand the gifts I’ve been given, set aside my fears, and step up to God’s callings. Hearing a man’s story of desired redemption behind bars, seeing an elderly woman’s joy in the simple pleasure of having company for an hour, listening to both a liberal and a conservative brainstorm together the importance of being present in local politics have helped me answer the question of “What can I do?”.

...I can extend
God’s love
through my
attitude and behavior.

I know that God fixed me in the role of a teacher—not just because I love literature—but because it is a position of positive influence where I can extend God’s love through my attitude and behavior. But as a Christian leader, I have developed two goals/desires that will guide my spiritual journey to further the kingdom:

Be willing when asked – As Pastor Jim mentioned in a recent sermon, we each can be a direct channel to God; it’s our own “stuff” that clogs this channel. My stuff looks like selfishness. I was gearing up for a responsibility-free summer when asked to help lead the college class during that time. I admit, I wasn’t enthusiastic about being tied to any commitments, but I said yes with my RCLI goal fresh in my mind. The Lord has blessed my obedience; (my husband) Clint and I love the class and His work is moving through the weekly lessons.

Be an active learner – One of the most impressive sessions I attended was the tour of the city jail where I met guards who considered themselves called to care for the inmates and talked with inmates on their way to rehabilitation, standing out as leaders among their peers. I am part of a group from RCLI planning a schedule for a prison ministry this fall. If I had never been exposed to this mission field, I may have never known that God has given me a heart for it. I feel called to keep learning about Richmond—the areas, the needs. To love our neighbors, we first need to know them.

How will you find your place of service in the City of Richmond?

Above: Sally Ann with her husband Clint.

 

 
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