Norman moved to Minneapolis five years ago but still hasn’t found a friend. Surrounded by almost 3.5 million other human beings, Norman was lonely. After work he catches a few beers with some of the guys every now and then, but most of his friends are the changing cast of Survivor, and while he has tried to connect with a girl, only the virtual women in his life really seem to, well – almost care. Norman is alone, and often wonders about his significance, or apparent lack of it. He needs someone some to make contact.
Fernando and Maria finally made it to the USA. With their four children in a basement apartment near Des Moines they have discovered that America is not always the land of plenty. Fernando and Maria trade shifts for the kids - he works graveyard shift for a local manufacturer while Maria is a teacher’s aid by day. Though they are both legal residents, they feel constantly watched. Fernando and Maria take great joy in their kids and keep in touch with their family in Mexico, supporting them with a large portion from their paycheck. They are grateful to God, but they haven’t made many friends, and still feel like strangers in a strange land. They need someone to make contact.
All around you in every corner of the North Central United States are people surrounded by other people who are alone. The grocery clerk ringing up your vegetables. The doctor examining your tonsils. The teacher complaining that your daughter is an underachiever. The supervisor making life difficult for your unit. The drunk asking for a buck in front of McDonald’s. Maybe even your own wife, or husband, or mom, or child. Loneliness - separation from one another - is pervasive. Lostness - separation from God who formed you - is pervasive.
False relationships are generated to make up for this. Virtual friends replace flesh and blood relationships. Social networking programs feel like friendships and fill a vacuum of love but can offer little in terms of real support, real nurture, and no eternal hope. Come to Annual Conference 2010 at Sky Lodge in Wisconsin this year and be part of a group of churches and leaders seeking to make contact with the lonely and lost in their community. Jesus called that love.
Invite a Norman to the church softball game. Ask a Susan over for a cup of Starbucks VIA. Go to yoga class with Maria. Play soccer with Fernando. Make contact. Love starts with contact. Contact leads to conversation. Conversation leads to conversion. Conversion leads to more lives that will make contact with the lonely and lost and the cycle of love begins again...