“The hope of Christmas time.” Painting by one of the teens taking classes at
Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida. PHOTO: SHIREE FETTERLY
By Shiree Fetterly
December 20, 2021 | Tampa, Florida
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”– Luke 2:15 (NRSV)
This year has been a year of many tests. We are tested by the pandemic and the amount of police brutality – the amount of hatred we see, and a persistent refusal by many people to care for the environment. God has taken us to places we never thought we could go both mentally and physically but has remained with us in the center of it all. As with the shepherds watching their sheep outside Bethlehem, God has given us signs. The world as we know it is crumbling at our feet. The more we ignore it, the more we ignore God, and the more tragedy will seep into the world.
My coworkers and I help with the teens at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida, a place that offers comprehensive services for at-risk and homeless families. We teach them life-skills and self-worth and that the situations they are in, whatever they may be, are temporary. They learn skills to use now and in the future. In this safe place, they come, hang out with friends and learn different skills that may impact their lives.
This shelter is a place that knows human grief, and we sometimes see trauma happening, but what we see here is also prevalent outside of Metropolitan Ministries. Unlike the shepherds, a lot of people are not listening to God, not recognizing the problems. God is telling us to get it together. He gave us this land and created everything, but we keep taking and taking, without thinking of the devastating cost. People would rather keep and safeguard their own wealth and security and not worry about what’s happening to others.
Yet I also see hope in this world and in what God is doing. God is the hope, working through all of us. God works through me and my colleagues when we give our lessons, when we have discussions with the teens. I see the joy in their smiles and hear their laughter, as together we find some kind of peace in all the chaos. Hope is evident when people stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
I see hope in the ways God has been working with me over these last couple years as a US-2. I feel I have grown in my relationship with God. God is shaping me, getting me ready for the next step, and this adventure is such a peaceful, mind-blowing journey. Being in Florida has opened my eyes to see how different aspects of the world work. In some ways, given the pandemic, I have stepped back from church and focused on my relationship with God.
Reflection, I believe, can bring peace when you least expect it. During my reflection, I hear God calling. Like the shepherds, I’m choosing to listen. I hear God calling. What will you do when God calls you?
Shiree Fetterly is a US-2 Global Mission Fellow from Port Huron, Michigan. She will continue her work with Metropolitan Ministries until her GMF term of service ends in the spring of 2022.