What the Cross Means to Me

28 02 2014

By Shandra Newcom, Rocky Mountain USA Mission Center

Shandra Newcom

Shandra Newcom

I am called to live radically, just as Jesus lived—to love the unlovable and feed the hungry; to free the captive and heal the broken. The cross represents this call to me.

It is this call that took me from my home in Colorado across the world to Chipulukusu in Zambia, Africa. I traveled there with HealthEd Connect, a nonprofit that believes deeply in the Worth of All Persons and works to end suffering.

I hadn’t realized that my disciple’s journey had become routine, that I had lost a sense of the radical reorientation the cross provides us as followers of the way of Jesus Christ. As I worshiped in the congregation in Chipulukusu, I saw what the cross means to my new Zambian friends.

The hope and praise I experienced as we sang, “There’s No One Like Jesus!” was more than meaningful. It changed my life. I began to understand, to remember that in our brokenness and struggles, Christ brings us all peace. As much as we are human beings who experience diversity in a wide range of ways, the unity Jesus brings ties us together and points us to a life of healing and renewal.

In Zambia I met women and men who have allowed the cross to change their lives. Some serve as health workers, volunteering their time and spending most of their day caring for the sick. Others teach orphans. Many have taken in children after parents died of disease.

While some might have seen death and despair in the places I visited (and there certainly were those things), I saw a fierce willingness to bring joy to life. I saw people who live with hope and who believe deeply in Christ as the one who brings freedom from the hopelessness that can come from a life lived in struggle. The smiles on the faces of the orphans who reached for my hand as I walked through their compound not only melted my heart, they reminded me that the peace of Christ passes all understanding.

I have changed my life because of that trip. I have looked carefully at how I live and what I do. I have realized that I do not live my call as deeply and fully as I want. I have allowed the example of my brothers and sisters in Africa to move me to a new way of being, a new way of seeing, a new way of acting in the world.

To say that following Christ and the cross has turned me upside down would be an understatement. It has taken me from complacency to a life lived in praise, celebration, and action in the name of the One who brings new life to me, you, and a waiting world. And I am grateful.



One response

28 02 2014

Yes, the cross calls us away from our comforts and into the uncomfortable places of life. It is the love and grace of God that calls us and makes it a life worth living.

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