Norm is a former church planter. He is a husband and father of three who serves a congregation in the suburbs of Washington D.C. as the Associate Pastor for Community Engagement and Young Families. He is passionate about making disciples and seeing a movement of young, inter-racial families begin to follow God into the world and make a difference. He has launched Discipleship Groups poised to multiply in the community.
“I love to see God changing people’s character. One of these new, young gals came up to me and asked, ‘How do I grow in my faith?’ Wow. I knew one of out older members was eager to serve, and she loves the Lord with all he heart. Her Bible is the most dog-eared, messy, highlighted thing you’ve ever seen. So I hooked the younger woman up with the older woman, and we’ll see where God takes it.”
What Norm is doing now…
As this pandemic unfolded, I decided that my role was to find opportunities for our Germantown folks to serve. Most of them still had jobs, healthy families, lots of time on their hands, and an eagerness to help out.
Here’s what we’ve been doing:
Every week, Germantown HELP calls us and tells us what their most urgent needs are: sometimes soup, sometimes spaghetti sauce or peanut butter, sometimes an assortment of the above. Word goes out to our people and the donations start arriving at our house. We have put up a table in our garage to handle to flow; sometimes it takes several days to collect the week’s donations. When we decide we’ve got most of it, A. J. and I transfer the haul to our red minivan and head to the pantry.
Sometimes we have to pick up one more donation on the way at a residence. When we arrive, we have to take inventory of what we’ve collected so the Germantown HELP Director can keep track of what’s coming in. Then, with masks and gloves on, we shelve all the food. With the two of us, it doesn’t take too long (but I’m sure glad I have A. J.!). In a few days, the process begins again! This is the new rhythm.
A month into the lockdown, I called up the Holy Cross Hospital and asked them what their most urgent need was. “Drinks for staff,” they said. “You mean, water?” “Anything!,” they responded. “Soft drinks, ice tea, whatever.” And so, word went out and within a few days we collected over 300 individual drinks of all flavors. When we took them over, we asked, “are these drinks for hydration or more for mental health?” The response: “Yes!” The long hours, the emotional toil, the fatigue – it takes its toll. It’s good to know we’re supporting the front lines.
The coronavirus pandemic has opened doors for discipleship. Oftentimes, when people hear about opportunities to serve, they notify me. Of course, the response they are looking for is for me to take it and run with it. I’ve learned, though, to stop, listen for the voice of God, and ask myself, how can I train others? So rather than ‘taking it and running with it,’ I will gently turn the tables: “how do you feel called to respond? how can you lead?” It’s amazing how empowered folks get when they realize that they can give back in meaningful ways right in their own communities.
As you can imagine, Game Nights have had to be put on hold. However, we are pushing through with a camping trip at the end of the month for five of our families, an important step of developing a closer bond with those who have become more invested. Our vision remains: create healthy spiritual community for the religious ‘nones’ through gathering, serving, and growing along spiritual lines.
Thank you for your support. YOU make this happen. I wish I could recount in detail the trust that’s being built, the faith that’s being restored, the love that’s being unconditionally shown to those who need a different experience with religion.
A pandemic’s a great time to chat by phone. Would love to see how you’re doing and what the Lord is doing in your life. Call at 240-750-8848. Elsie and the kids are doing great as we share precious family time together.
Blessings to each of you,