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A Spiritual Autobiography
How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes
of an ordinary guy from Jersey City
In the Midst of Bad News, Look For Signs of Good News
We are living in a time when it seems that there is nothing but bad news. Just listening to the first five minutes of the latest newscast can give you the feeling that everything is hopeless. But on the other hand, I’m noticing that more and more, the newscasts, are ending with some good news. Often it’s about people helping other people who are in difficult situations, even though they don’t even know the ones they are helping. They just know it’s the right thing to do. Hearing those brief news reports can reassure us that there is hope when there seems to be none. There is good news in the midst of the bad news.
I am reminded of something that happened ten years ago about this time of year. Something that happened in our little town of Southampton (also known as Vincentown) New Jersey. The news media doesn’t come to our town very often. In fact, in the 16 years I have lived in this town it’s the only time I can remember when the news media came to town. I’m sure that was because our hopes for good news day by day were being fulfilled. So there was no reason for the news media to come to our town. However, one night we experienced some really bad news. In fact, not just our town, but all of the surrounding towns.
There was a really bad rain storm that night, which resulted in some very bad flooding. Nothing like the flooding we are seeing these days in some part of the USA. But serious enough to disrupt the lives of local families, businesses, and organizations, including churches. At the time I was the pastor of Vincentown United Methodist Church, which fortunately for us, was not affected by the flood. However, a few blocks away, there was serious flooding, which seriously damaged a neighboring church, Trinity Episcopal Church. Fortunately, their insurance covered most of the cost of repairs, but the church facility was not usable for many months. Our church immediately invited them to use our church for their Sunday worship services and some other activities, until they were able to get back into their own facilities. They accepted our offer.
As I said, the news media never came to our town, because we never experienced anything which could really be considered bad news. Until this event which was being called “The Thousand Year Flood”. The day after the flood a TV reporter from one of the Philadelphia stations turned up at our church, which was sitting high and dry, while not too far away the flood waters were still there. She interviewed me, since I was the pastor, for about 15 minutes. for the most part, the interview focused on the bad news and apparent hopelessness of the situation. However, at one point she asked me why I thought nearby Trinity Episcopal Church was severely damaged and our church experienced no damage at all. I sensed that this might be a question calculated to cause me to blame God for everything. So I said that I didn’t know what God had in mind concerning all of this. Then it came to me. I said, “I believe we were saved from damage so we could be available to help those who were not as fortunate”,
That night I happened to catch the segment of the news about the flood in Vincentown. Most of the report was, as expected, about the bad news. Out of my 15 minute interview they showed just a 10 second clip. It was the comment I quoted above. It was the right ten seconds, not because it was from me, but because God inspired me to give some good news in the midst of the bad news. And God inspired the TV news people, whether they realized it or not, to finish all the bad news and hopelessness concerning the flood, with a message of good news and hope. Good news. That’s what Jesus proclaimed 2,000 years ago, and that’s what the church, known as the Body of Christ, is called to share with a world too often focused on bad news and hopelessness.
I am thankful that for the most part, the news media are being inspired to search for and report good news in the midst of bad news, which helps all of us to face the future with hope instead of hopelessness. I invite you to do the same, always look for good news in the midst of bad news.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty Perez and Ray Gough