I have remarkable siblings. I am the only girl in a family of five kids, fourth in the family line up with three older brothers and my youngest brother, the exclamation point on the sentence of our family.
It is an understatement to say that my brothers are gifted. They are, without doubt, some of the smartest people I know. Each has their sphere of influence, and they work well within that sphere. My husband and I joke that if we could be the public relations representatives for my brothers, we would be wealthy. We would have no problem telling people how smart and talented they are. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, they haven’t hired us.
But it is my oldest brother that I am thinking about today. Ed is seven years older than me, which makes him quite young…..! Like many firstborns, Ed has a confidence and drive that are admirable. But what he has accomplished has come with its share of disappointments, tragedy, and true grit.
Throughout my childhood, Ed was the big brother to look up to. He was personable, smart, and confident. When I was ten years old, we were on a furlough living in an industrial city in Massachusetts. At the time, Ed was a junior in high school. When the year ended, my parents and Ed talked and made the decision that he would stay in the United States for his senior year of highschool, while the rest of the family returned to Pakistan. He would be living with my aunt and uncle in a town nearby; he would be well cared for, but it left a hole in our family that was not easily filled. The next time we saw him, he was engaged. While we continued life in boarding school thousands of miles away, he became a man.
Through the years, my brother has grieved the deaths of those closest to him; faced church squabbles and pride; experienced poor leadership; and given up his retirement funds to fuel a passion. He founded an organization called Care of Creation to mobilize the church to care for God’s world, pressing on in the never-ending battle to convince churches that we are stewards over God’s creation. The organization is now over ten years old and does workshops and projects around the world, supporting staff in Kenya, Tanzania, and the United States.
Tomorrow night, my brother will receive an award from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. The award is the A.J. Gordon Missionary Service Award and is given to an alumnus who had demonstrated integrity and commitment in cross-cultural service for ten years or more. I think about all that Ed has done to make this vision of creation care a reality, and I am so proud of him. It has not been easy. For years he wondered if there would be a next paycheck; beyond that was the difficulty convincing people that caring for God’s world is part of the Gospel message.
So tomorrow night, in a public way, his work and his life will be honored.
A couple of years ago, in a post about another brother, I said this:
The sibling relationship is one of the strangest relationships in our world. We grow up with these people called ‘siblings’. Eat at the same dinner table, are loved and nurtured, disciplined and scolded by the same parents. We sit around Christmas trees or Eid feasts, go to churches, mosques, or synagogues with family. They hold similar features, characteristics, and memories.
But we grow older and often apart. And we’re left wondering what happened. When did the ease with which we communicated, laughed, and fought turn into difficulty trying to figure out what to say to each other? When did a solid relationship turn sketchy and strained?
Sometimes, but not always, we figure out this new relationship and move forward – tenuously at first, but then with more confidence.*
So tomorrow I will confidently and enthusiastically attend the ceremony, sitting in the audience as the unknown sister full of sibling pride.
Congratulations Ed! You deserve this more than Gordon will ever know.
Care of Creation’s mission is to “pursue a God-centered response to environmental challenges that brings glory to the Creator, advances the cause of Christ, and leads to a transformation of the people and the land that sustains them.”If you would like to learn more about Care of Creation, take a look here.