On April 8 and April 10, chapel speakers Leroy Barber and Olive Aneno discussed themes of extending grace and living out faith.
Leroy Barber, Global Executive Director of Word Made Flesh, an international organization that works among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor, spoke on Monday and emphasized the importance of acting as a Christian instead of just talking about it. Before he began his message, he briefly discussed his background. Before Portland, he had previously lived in Atlanta and Philadelphia. He also discussed how he grew up in a Baptist church and is a Baptist preacher.
“You got to talk back to me so I can feel comfortable,” he said.
Isaiah 58 was used by Barber to discuss living out faith. He used statistics to support his point that poverty is a crisis in our nation and in our world.
Barber emphasized the verse, “Care for the wanderer, clothe for the naked.”
“Would if I just talked about being a husband?” he asked.
He then mentioned how “weird” he found it that Christians can talk about being a Christian without living it out.
“You cannot profess to be a Christian and do nothing,” he said. “I’d respect you more if you weren’t a Christian and you did nothing.”
He closed his main point of acting out on faith against injustice in the world by encouraging a call to action.
“We need to live like we own faith, like it owns us,” he said. “It is not acceptable for us to sit as people die.”
Olive Aneno spoke on Friday and highlighted how her life changed because of Compassion International. At the start, she discussed her earlier childhood in a poverty-stricken environment in Kitgum District, Northern Uganda, including how she and her family would have to hide from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels when she was about six years old. She then discussed the exhausting journey she and some of her relatives went through to get to the capital city of Kampala. When she got to Kampala around the age of eight, she started attending one of Compassion’s child development centers at a local church.
She said she remembered holding a sign with a list of letters and numbers, and then having her picture taken. In May 1988, she said her packet was made as a child to sponsor from Compassion International. The packet ended up at Hillsong Church. She said a family picked up the packet and sent a letter to her.
“We love you; we will save you from poverty in the Lord’s name,” the letter said.
Aneno said this was the beginning of restoration and when the realization that she mattered occurred. She discussed “the grace that Christ brought us.”
“What are we doing with this grace?” she asked.
She discussed how this extended grace can help lead to an end in poverty. She said she has sponsored three children and has been a social worker for eight years because of extended grace.
“My life began with a child packet,” she said.
She closed out her time by encouraging those in attendance to stand with her and put their palms out and up as if accepting a gift as she prayed. She prayed in her native language for the first part of her prayer, and then she closed the prayer in English.