Today's guest post comes to us from a long-term practitioner of "kingdom values". I love stories like this, and would love to hear more! The utter un-sexiness of it all continues to astound me, as well as the enormous amounts of joy and satisfaction. I appreciate Sandy for reaching out and sharing her life with us. This isn't an easy thing to do, and she does it with grace and humility, inspiring us who are only in the beginning stages of this crazy life. And write down those books she talks about!
The Long Haul
Guest post by Sandy Fox
My faith has been strongly influenced by growing up the child of immigrants. With no extended family in the country, my parents always invited people to our home for holidays- one Christmas we had a homeless man who had just gotten out of prison, a Japanese business man and a slightly odd ball friend of mine who had nowhere else to go. We often spent part of Thanksgiving serving at a homeless shelter. I was used to walking downtown with my mother, where many of the homeless greeted her by name.
When I went away to college in the late 1970’s, my faith was formed by the writings of Ron Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger), Jim Wallis and Sojourners, Richard Foster and his writings on simplicity. I was heavily influenced by Karen Burton Main's book Open Heart, Open Home and Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I was involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and went to the Urbana Missions Conference in 1979. There I heard speaker after speaker talk about the global body of Christ. When I came back, I joined a group that reached out to international students. My husband (then boyfriend) and I formed a deep friendship with a couple from Bangladesh. There were other friendships with students from Iran, China, Japan.
When I met my husband, I knew that life with him would be an adventure. And oh, what an adventure it has been! We are now in our mid-fifties with a daughter in college. The values and visions we formed as young adults have stayed with us and we have imperfectly tried to live them out.
When I hear the term “Downward mobility,” I think of “kingdom values.” What are the values of the kingdom? People. Justice. Mission. Love. Gospel . Transformed lives. Sacrifice. The choices that we have made have been shaped by those values. These values inform the way we live, where we have lived and how we spent our time. We tried as much as we could to maintain a home that was open to hospitality. However, we needed balance in that- Thanksgiving was open to all kinds of people. Christmas was just for family. We have made conscious choices for simplicity- used cars, smaller homes, few electronics, home cooking, home gardening.
The adventures of living according to kingdom values have brought wonderful people in our lives. We have been privileged to serve in Korean, Chinese and an International church. We have worked with refugees and post-doctoral researchers. We went to seminary in our mid-thirties and overseas in our mid-forties. We spent three years overseas in a closed country, where we fostered a special needs orphan and worked training church leaders. Our daughter spent last summer working with at risk teen girls in the Philippines and now works with refugee children in a tutoring program in Seattle. It’s been a rich, rich life.
There have been struggles. We have often struggled financially. Part of our commitment was to be sure there was always someone home with our daughter after school. That meant part-time work for me and less income for us. We have moved a lot and that brings a relational cost. We haven’t pursued the American dream of stability and that is odd to some people.
As I look back over our life, I can think of some things that I would do differently (more savings for retirement!). But living a counter-cultural life for the long term brings great joy and satisfaction.
For all posts in the Downward Mobility series, please click here.