Acts 5: 38 – 39
“38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
In last week’s sermon at Cottage Grove United Church of Christ, Pastor Bryan talked about what it is that calls him to action. If you will remember his passion had to do with feeding the hungry especially feeding the starving children. After church Bryan invited me to answer that same question in regards to my life here today with you. What gets me up off the couch and into action? Theologian Frederick Buechner has written that vocation is where our greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need. So perhaps the question is, what is my vocation? What is my calling? Where do I have the ability to do the greatest good?
Since my breast cancer journey in 2004, my vocation has been to reach out to women and men newly diagnosed with this disease in an effort to calm their fears and provide them with understanding and hope for their own journey.
Some of you will remember that my Mom, Eileen Lindemann, journeyed through breast cancer in 1971. At that time she told me that she felt like half a woman as a result of her surgery and radiation. My advice to her was to get out and talk with other women going through breast cancer. By offering and helping others you find that you have also been helped.
What goes around comes around so in 2004 my own advice to my Mom came back to me. If I thought that was a good plan for my mother to do, why didn’t I take my own advice and get out there and do it? And so it all began. I made my first call to the American Cancer Society and volunteered to be a part of their Reach to Recovery program making visits and phone calls to patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, 9 years later, I’m still reaching out within the breast cancer community and have discovered for myself that this is where my passion reaches a need in our world. God’s hand has helped me along the way through generous donations from family and friends, individual survivors, several corporations, the Bush Foundation and most recently the Minnesota Lynx Women’s Basketball team. The work is accomplished through the Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group a nonprofit grassroots organization in Hastings, MN under the name of Voices of Hope. The support group is made up of approximately 20 breast cancer survivors including myself.
Voices of Hope has become the outreach project of The Hastings Breast Cancer Support Group. Its inspiration stems from the recognition that a powerful and neglected source of breast cancer expertise is the peer group – women who have experienced the challenges of this disease firsthand.
Inspired by the stories of these brave women, our organization saw an opportunity to spread this wisdom beyond the boundaries of our local support group. In 2010, the original Voices of Hope DVD was created to provide a virtual breast cancer support group that would help other breast cancer patients navigate the early weeks of breast cancer treatment, from diagnosis to first plans of action. A diverse group of women and stories are reflected within the video, helping to empower recently diagnosed breast cancer patients with hope, inspiration, and highly useful breast cancer information. The positive responses to this video have been overwhelming, with thousands of copies now circulating throughout the United States and Canada.
Based on feedback we received from friends and family members of breast cancer patients who viewed Voices of Hope, we created a second documentary, Voices of Hope: Family and Friends. Loved ones of breast cancer patients often have no idea how to help, what to say, and how to calm their own fears. Voices of Hope: Family and Friends focuses on the healing power of relationships and features breast cancer patients and their family and friends who reflect on their journey, creating a positive mindset for each viewer that leads to better medical outcomes and a stronger social network. Both newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and friends and family members of breast cancer patients have found this new DVD to be an invaluable source of comfort and education.
SHOW CLIP HERE
The dollars from my Bush Fellowship provided our group with the means to produce this second DVD and to create a website for distributions of the DVD series. You can visit this website at www.voicesofhopebc.com . Please take a look at the site as you might just recognize a face or two.
God continues to work in mysterious ways. I’d like to share a few examples with you:
1. I meet a young man selling cars at Inver Grove Ford a couple of years ago when we were buying my present car. Tim Braun was doing fine in his own media business until the down turn in the economy when he lost his own company. To support his family, he was selling cars. We had a few conversations with him telling me about his history and I telling him about mine and my dreams for Voices of Hope. He became an instant friend and advocate for Voices of Hope. He is now back in the media business and has been my contact for getting connected with Aimedia and the many things that have come my way because of that.
2. Aimedia Solution is the company that built the website for us. I received a call from their design team a few weeks back. After about a half hour discussion of what I’d like to see in a tool called a support group finder, they said they were providing the new tool for the website free of charge.
3. The Minnesota Lynx are providing the dollars to get the DVD series into the hands of newly diagnosed patients in northwestern and north central Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center.
4. A new product called a Wbit, which is a water bottle identification system – colored plastic caps to put on your water bottle so you know which one belongs to you, will be coming to Bed, Bath and Beyond in a couple of weeks. The inventor’s sister passed of breast cancer and he will be generously donating a percentage of the sales to Voices of Hope.
5. Mark Bersinger, from Aimedia volunteered to do the SEO for the website – again as a donation. SEO has to do with the placement of the website in the search engine.
These are truly God-Things that happen in God’s time and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. Because this is my passion, the hours I put into it are a joy and the feedback received is all the payment needed. For example from a Mayo Clinic patient talking about the DVD series:
“Actually seeing and hearing from those who have gone through surgery and or reconstruction brought reality close and very personal. The bravery of those woman exposing their feelings and bodies for those of us who were traveling a similar road was amazing. It gave me a sense of sadness, awareness, hope, and future.”
And from Carolyn of Hastings:
“Voices of Hope was a Godsend. It helped me better understand what I was in for in a way no doctor could convey.”
So there you have it. Now you know what calls me to action. As the body of Christ, we have all been given different talents with different jobs to do. I never dreamed that in my retirement years this is what I’d be doing. I always planned on eating bons bons and reading novels. But God had a different idea and I’m glad that I heard His call.
We all have our special roles that God calls upon us to do for our family, our church family, our community and our world. Thanks to all of you for doing what you do.
Now it is your turn to think about this question. What is it that calls you to action? Where does your passion meet a need in our community? When you hear the call, respond with a yes. You won’t be sorry.