In the past two years, digital television signals have opened up a new world to me.
Retro television stations have been airing old Westerns, and I've latched onto a pioneering adventure drama called "Daniel Boone." It aired before I was born, but the raccoon hat and leather wilderness wear caught my eye. It is also the spirit of the show that calls out to me. Daniel is the leader in a wilderness fort trying to start something new. Like the early American pilgrims, they have challenges and risks, such as famine in the winter, raids from the people who already live on the territory they are settling, as well as internal divisions. The pioneering spirit of the show teaches me something each time I sit down and watch it.
Whenever we start something new -- whether it is opening a new store, beginning a new church program or moving to a new place to live -- there is a period of pioneering involved. Many people in our area realize this because the majority of people in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton areas are transplants from another region of the country. When we arrived, we brought ideas of how life should be and the talents we have developed in other regions. Because of this, there is a local homegrown flavor to many things. People who have moved here have realized that to make something happen, they were going to have to be the ones to take the risks.
The sign of this is in our local businesses -- realty offices, restaurants, the local papers and many coffee shops have been started by people who wanted to make the community a better place. They put faith in their ability to attract customers. Over time, they built trust, and their services have helped make our daily lives a bit better. One favorite local business of mine is The Corner Perk, on the corner of Burnt Church and Bruin roads. It is constantly growing because the owner isn't afraid to change things. This is the good work of the pioneer.
There are also risks in the realms of faith. When churches serve so many diverse people, as they do here, the risk is in launching programs to meet the varying needs. One person might pray fervently and has read the whole Bible, but has never worked on a missions project or participated in projects for social justice. Another person may have been on many missions trips to various corners of the Earth, but does not understand why Jesus suffered on the cross. Many also have had positive experiences with people at their home church but have had a hard time connecting to a new church body after moving to the area.
The fact is, pioneering is hard. We have undertaken something new, something with the possibility of failure. But in faith, we are not on our own. Christ himself identifies with us, and all the believers who endured hardships are rooting for us in the stands of the saints.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We can do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Like Daniel Boone, we can prepare for hardships and inspire others when things look tough. When a program is the right thing to do, like a soup kitchen or a homeless aid initiative, keep telling people about it, organizing for it and trust in faith that your determination and good work are a reward in itself.
If you're just starting to connect with a church -- but it is smaller than you'd like -- perhaps you are the pioneer God has selected to jump-start something new. There might be a fellow believer there already doing good work, who is waiting for someone like you to encourage him or her and help bear the work of our Lord.
Jesus was not always surrounded by the multitudes. In the end of his earthly life, things seemed like they were going to fade out completely, and yet his faith in the father and his kingdom sparked a revolution that has completely changed the globe.