Finding Compassion

January 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Recent FCMMs, Suffering, Tolerance

finding-compassionSam Matteson, Physics,
University of North Texas

[Jan 17, 2010]—

“Purnima has lost her baby.”

The words stabbed my heart. The wife of Arup, a new junior faculty member in our department, two days before delivered their first child prematurely. Now their daughter was dead.

How can I help?

“How can I help? How can I minister to them?” I asked myself and God. The answer came without my asking when Arup questioned me about funerary practices in the U.S. He knew I had recently buried a parent and was therefore experienced in such sad matters.

After a call to a local funeral home alerting them to the situation and to do some fact checking, I shared the information with the grieving father. By the weekend a small group, most of whom were members or our department, gathered at the tiny grave side for a memorial service. Since the young Hindu couple lacked any strong ties to the nearest temple 40 miles away, Arup’s faculty mentor gave a brief eulogy and I was asked to lead in prayer.

A prayer for a lost child

It was one of the most challenging prayers I was ever asked to lead: a prayer by a Christ-follower to comfort, in the loss of their sweet infant, Hindu parents marooned in an alien culture. I will never forget the experience. I hope that God the Father of all humanity used my words of thanks for the brief life of their daughter to comfort Purnima and Arup and to affirm God’s love for us and her.

Reflecting on our role in the lives of our co-workers I sense that we who walk the Jesus Road are called to be more than casual in our compassion, more than incidental in our ministry to those whom we encounter day by day. I am challenged to “let the mind of Christ” be also in me. Time and again He was moved with compassion by the human condition, and yet I often selfishly communicate callous indifference. As I have stood beside the open grave of family members of my colleagues, issues of eternal significance have been highlighted.

I asked a trusted Jewish colleague with whom I have serious theological and philosophical discussions, why, did he think, most academics were reluctant to discuss spiritual matters. He replied “One’s relationship with a minister, priest or rabbi is unique; the minister has credentials as a ‘spiritual advisor.’ Most people of my acquaintance do not have such credentials. . . . But that said, there are some who demonstrate their spiritual credentials by how they live and care for those around them.”

In An Alien Landscape

I have often thought of his remark, and I aspire to be a real “ambassador for Christ” in an alien landscape.

Sometimes for me it may begin by getting to know them over a cup of coffee or lunch. Those little intentional steps of kindness.

Time often allows us to walk with friends and associates of the academic community through the vicissitudes of life, comforting them with the assurance that God is a God of love, pointing to the redemptive grace of Christ’s cross. Showing them, in a very imperfect way, a bit of the compassion that God has shown me.

© 2010 Samuel Matteson

Our Family Ride Through the Bible

December 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Bible study, Priorities






Mark D. Geil, Kinesiology and Health,
Georgia State University



[December 1, 2008] — As I write these words on the 336th day of the year, I can begin to reflect on another annum of reading through the Bible, cover to cover, in order from page one to that last beautiful “Amen.” I am following Rae Mellichamp’s handy guide, divided up to make each day’s reading about the same number of verses, something the
engineer in me appreciates. However, I’ve done something radically different this year: I invited my family along for the ride.

A Big Task With Three Daughters

I mentioned the idea to my wife about this time last year. I shared that I felt God calling us to read through the Bible together as a family.  She was supportive, but she is also the pragmatist who realizes the difficulty of engaging in such a big daily task with three daughters, one of whom was only six years old at the time. Still, she sensed my enthusiasm and agreed, with the caveat that we would all have
to really pitch in to make this happen.

Now I look at just how many pages I turn to get to today’s reading in 1st Corinthians and I’m amazed. We started off reading mostly aloud, all together, usually perched on our bed. We managed the genealogies and Levitical laws and yes, the Numbers. Sometimes we’ve read too quickly, longing to stop and ask questions and dig deeper but aware that we had a schedule to keep. Sometimes we got behind, and had to launch into marathon catch-up days. As the year wore on, that six-year-old became a much better reader, and we’ve often done our reading on our own, holding each other accountable. The reading goes more quickly when it’s not aloud, allowing more time for glances at the notes. We’ve even just purchased a dramatized New Testament on CD, so others can do the reading for us.

We All Now Know The Word Better

This effort has indeed been a challenge, but there have been so many wonderful moments along the way. We all now know the Word better, and consequently we know the Author of that Word better. We have been profoundly reminded that everything in the Bible points to Jesus. Those months spent in the Old Testament have made us long for Him in a tangible way. We’ve felt the years of silence between Malachi and Matthew, and our sorrow on Golgotha has been more poignant than ever. Now we celebrate the risen Savior even as the calendar reminds us again of His birth.

I encourage you to make the same commitment we did. Disciple your children by pointing them to the Bible. Grow closer to God and in so doing grow closer together.

You may download the Bible reading plan here:

Bible Reading

This MMM may be copied or forwarded for personal ministry purposes by including:
© 2008   Mark D. Geil      Used by permission of Faculty Commons

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