Listen to the Roving Psalmist
Four words won’t let me go: “I shall not want.” Three other words won’t let me go either: “I lack nothing.” They are different translations of the phrase that follows the iconic opening of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” I’d like to see TMF hire that psalmist and give him/her a singular job description: to walk around the halls of our headquarters saying, “We lack nothing.” Or maybe that’s exactly what happened soon after TMF was founded in the midst of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
At first glance, it’s hard to think of a greater aspiration than living out of gratitude to the God who leads us beside still waters. But there is a greater aspiration, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have the opportunity to reach higher. The call of God being heard at TMF now is to put that aspiration into action. We seek to know, walk alongside and assist those experiencing such grave sickness or real deprivation that they are having a really hard time saying those opening words of Psalm 23.
Thanks to the trusting, generous investors and supporters of TMF, we have real resources. But God has clearly called us not to be hoarders, succumbing to a mindset of scarcity, and standing passively or inattentively while millions in our two-state area are food insecure or don’t have access to online schooling because they can’t afford internet.
Out of a deep trust in God’s abundance, we’re now in the process of engaging our own financial resources. Because churches will need palpable relief as we emerge from sheltering in place, staffers in the loan department, aided by the operations department, are working tirelessly to provide several kinds of relief including paying interest-only or deferring payments for three months on existing loans, and offering micro-loans for immediate cash flow relief. The Spring cycle of our grants ministry was moved up four weeks to get desperately needed financial relief to the churches and non-profits doing such heroic work, and more relief is planned.
We’re also engaging the people resources of the Leadership Ministry and the Area Representative ministries by having broad reaching conversations with leaders about what we’ll face on the other side of the pandemic. It’s crystal clear that in the midst of a tragedy, those churches and leaders who know their purpose well and align their resources to their purpose will not only emerge intact but will incorporate what they learned during the disorienting period of being sheltered in place.
“We’re in this together!” seems to be the overall mantra of our current crisis. The way we’re saying this at TMF is that though we could call you customers or clients or constituents, we really want to be partners. This isn’t just about resources that TMF has or services we provide. You have also been blessed with abundance. This is about the unparalleled opportunity we have to make a difference by joining forces, and by listening to the roving psalmist who keeps saying, “We lack nothing.”
Rev. John Thornburg, Leadership Ministry Facilitator
John brings 38 years of ministry experience in the diverse settings of the United States and in West Africa. He calls himself a ‘professional encourager’, and greatly enjoys working with congregations and church leaders.
Before coming to TMF, his work in the nationally renowned East Dallas Cooperative Parish brought growth, vitality, and missional focus to a church that had been in decline for years. He founded a unique extensional ministry to strengthen congregational singing and traveled to hundreds of churches for twelve years before coming to TMF. John became TMF's Senior Area Representative for the North Texas Conference in 2013, then he became Vice President of Area Staff, and now he is thrilled to join the Leadership Ministry team.