Word For 2017 - Ignite
by Major Danielle
I’ve got fire issues. What I mean is that
I’m so urbanized and far removed from Boy Scouts or Girl
Scouts training that I can’t effectively light a fire. I
compensate by using helpful agents to assist. Like the day we
moved into a new house in northern Canada with a backyard and
a fire pit.
BIG IGNITION, LITTLE REWARD
My son and his friend couldn’t wait to light
a fire in the new fire pit, so I obliged and we began. After
several attempts to ignite a flame nothing was happening. No
fire. Not even smoke. So, I did what needed to be done. I went
to the garage and found a gasoline can and doused the wood
with gas. I can still see the hopeful faces of my son and his
friend as they lit the fire.
That’s the best way to describe what
happened next. A massive blast of a flame ignited the entire
fire pit at the same time. My son slowly turned to me with a
blackened face and wide eyes and uttered, “That was awesome,”
in a very shaky voice.
Thankfully the only casualties were the
eyebrows of both kids! Once the instant flame had consumed the
eyebrows it quickly went out. A big flash with little
THE PATIENCE OF A MASTER IGNITER
A few months later in the thick of winter
our friend, Morten, from Denmark, was living with us, and he
happened to be a Scout master. Not just a Scout – a master.
My son expressed a desire to light a fire
and Morton’s eyes light up. He let out a “Yes!” and went
downstairs to get his winter clothes on and headed out to the
backyard. I tried to warn him that the only wood we had was
wet, but he would not be stopped. He was a master Scout after
He took his time creating the teepee shape
with the kindling and bark around the base. He even used some
wood between his hands, rolling it slowly back and forth at
first and then getting faster. He was using the heat of
friction as a potential lighting agent. I watched from the
kitchen window. Amazed. And then bored.
See, this went on for some time and there
was no sign of a flame. I opened the window and shouted out my
secret ingredient to a good fire and Morten scowled in my
direction and continued his slow, deliberate work.
I couldn’t stand it. It was taking forever.
Bored of the pace I went about some other business while
Morten, undaunted, continued his work. Then I smelled it. The
smoke. It led me to the kitchen window where I was amazed to
Like a sign and wonder from the heavens,
flames of fire were licking the cold and warming Morten, who
sat by his work with a massive wide grin. He had persevered.
He had overcome. He had pushed back the winter and the wet
with his purposeful consistency. Master Scout indeed.
REAL FIRES THAT IGNITE CHANGE
Those of us from an instantly gratified and
constantly moving culture do not always understand the fire
started by masters. This is extremely evident in fighting back
the cold reality of extreme poverty around the world. We often
prefer a quick relief style of change. A magic bullet.
But those fires go out as fast as they
start, and can even injure folks in the process.
The real fires of change are lit by master
workers who expertly, slowly and painstakingly cultivate. They
perseveringly keep at it with skill, competence and commitment
to the process and the result. People who refuse to quit.
Those who stay at it, the long consistent master scouts of
This is how I see the work of Compassion’s
local church partners. The work they do is steady, constant
and persevering. They tend to the details of presence and
purpose, knowing their very lives are witness to the flame of
God’s power in the world. They stack the kindling of children
who often start off cold and wet from the realities of
economic winter. But once lit, they themselves light up the
darkness and push the chill of poverty back.
Many of us watch through a kitchen window of
sorts – trying our best to keep our attention while the often
monotonous task of tending the fires of change goes on. And
this is the most amazing part. The sign and wonder of the
long-term approach to releasing children from poverty through
holistic child development is not in its flashy moments. It
does not offer a false agent of quick change that brings a
bang and is snuffed out moments later.
It offers instead, an invitation to watch
and learn from master scouts who tend the fire and light a
flame that warms the hearts and lives of children who then
become a blaze that will never go out. It offers us a chance
to watch and learn and then partner with and become part of
igniting a flame not only in children but in us as well. A
slow and steady burn of hope that spreads because it lasts.
One Word 2017
ONE WORD FOR 2017
John’s gospel calls Jesus the light of the
world, and suggests that even the darkness can never
extinguish that light. This year, as I focus on the word
IGNITE and the Light that overcomes darkness, these are my
I pray we will continue to invest in master
scouts who tend to the long, persevering work of igniting
fires that will not go out.
I pray that God will give those of us with a
kitchen window view the patience to commit to igniting
compassion in our families, our communities and around the
I pray that even if we got distracted and
went about some other work we will smell the smoke, and return
to the wonder of hope in Jesus, the light of the world.
Has your passion waned? Your hope snuffed
out by a dark culture? Have you lost interest in the long burn
to a warm future?
IGNITE your own flame by investing in a fire
that will not go out no matter how dark things get. Whether
you do it through your sponsorship with Compassion or in your
own local community, take those first steps to light the
kindling of compassion in someone.
I’ve traded in my quick fire-starting ways
for the long, slow glow of love in action. I’m committed to
tending the fires. It also helps to hear children respond to
the igniting of their flame say, “That was awesome” – with
their eyebrows still intact!
We’ve celebrated the discipline of choosing
one word to define the new year for the past nine years. Be
inspired by the “one words” from the past years and join us
What word have you chosen to lead your 2017?