“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” -James 2:17 (NLT)
Faith and good deeds go hand in hand. Take a quick look through the Bible and you’ll find dozens of examples of people living out their faith:
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, when God called him into action. (Spoiler alert: God provided a ram so Isaac didn’t have to die.) (Genesis 22)
After her husband died, Ruth stayed with her mother-in-law and took care of her even though she could have gone back to her family and remarried. (Ruth 1)
Stephen continued to encourage people to believe in Jesus even after he was arrested and facing death. (Acts 6-7)
Paul, once a persecutor of Christians, became one of the most influential church leaders of all time, enduring beatings, imprisonment and harsh opposition everywhere he went. (Acts 21)
And of course, Jesus, who lived his perfect life in service to others, healing the sick, having dinner with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:10) and offering redemption and eternal life to every single person he encountered. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
Here at Passion Community Church, we’ve got a long list of our own amazing examples of people who put their faith into action and follow God’s lead every single day. Today I’d like to take a minute to introduce you to one in particular.
If you’ve been around our church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Tony Tomandl. Tony leads PCC’s ministry in Moldova, coordinating teams and supplies for trips overseas and the mission work they accomplish while there. He’s also PCC’s Do Good Director, overseeing projects across all campuses and coordinating efforts at his specific campus in Midlothian. Tony is passionate about living out his faith through actions such as putting together school supply drives and organizing a homeless feeding ministry.
Tony began his work in Moldova many years ago while living in Texas. After making the 6,000 mile trip across the Atlantic to participate in mission efforts there, Tony was hooked and excited to return. When he and his family later moved to Virginia and started attending PCC, he invited others to invest their time and resources in this special place and go with him to serve. From there, he took the opportunity to be the lead for efforts in that country and became more involved with PCC’s Do Good efforts here at home in our own community. Taking that first initial step in faith—following God’s call to action and effort in Moldova—opened doors for Tony that he is still walking through today.
For Tony, faith in God is more than just belief. Looking back, he says he is “so grateful for the impact that God has had” on him and the ways that “God changed the trajectory of his life”. The gifts that God has given him have inspired him to not just keep his eyes open for opportunities to give back, but to pursue those opportunities. Seeing what God can do propels him forward in his efforts “to touch other people’s lives in both tangible and spiritual ways.”
As he continues to take steps of faith to serve and help others, Tony’s faith has deepened as he trusts God to go with him to the places he’s been called. God opened his eyes to recognize the work He’s doing in other people’s lives and in his own, and although it can be nerve-wracking to jump in and serve when you don’t know what to expect, being able to see God in the people he works with has taught Tony to trust in God even more.
“Investing time, money or energy into helping others” gives Tony a “sense of God’s delight and pleasure.” But even though helping other people “feels” good, Tony says that “living into what God called us to do is more than a feeling. It is a sense of being part of something larger than yourself—God’s plan.”
Just like the people in the Bible who faced their own trial, being part of God’s plan doesn’t mean that things will always be easy or easily resolved. Tony says that the sheer magnitude and size of the problems that people need help with can be overwhelming. “There are so many people that need help and the problems are significant. Sometimes it seems like I (we) are not even making a dent with what little we are able to do.”
When faced with these frustrations, Tony says it helps to remember that he “doesn’t have to solve the whole problem, just help the person in front of him with whatever he can do.” Being able to serve and “be part of the adventure of discovering how God will work through each of us” is worth the frustration every time.
Tony is just one example of many at PCC who are setting aside their own preferences and plans to follow where God is leading. If you’d like to get involved and see what it’s like to live out your faith, check out PCC’s Do Good page to see what opportunities are available here, near and far away. Then take some time to pray about where God can best use your gifts and talents to further the work of His Kingdom.
If you’re not ready for a mission trip or service project, serving right where you are, through PCC’s Dream Team, is a great place to begin. You can take the first step in that by reaching out online, or by stopping by the Information Center at your campus this week. You can also talk to others at PCC who are involved in the ministry that you feel led to join. Or you can join a small group that is already involved in doing good right here in our own community. This summer, you can also participate in PCC’s Do Good Challenge. We have lots of ideas on our website for how to get involved yourself or with your family or small group.
Taking steps to live a life that honors God through words AND actions is an important part of every faith journey. Join Tony and the many others at PCC who are living out their faith by taking a step toward God today. And together, let’s keep our hearts and minds after God, following wherever He leads us, no matter what it costs us. Together, let’s follow Him anywhere.