So on Friday, I told you about our church’s mission to serve and introduced you to the incredibly giving family who have made huge, life sacrifices in order to guide congregations like ours through a transformation to a servant’s heart.
The Loekken’s have been instrumental in exhibiting for us that it’s just not good enough anymore to simply worship in the pews, go to Bible study, and call it a day. Of course worship and study are critical to spiritual development, but if we stop there, we are not seeing the forest for the trees.
I am most certainly guilty of doing this quite often; however, the Loekken’s visit is the most recent piece of a puzzle that has been jigsawing since this past December. I’m starting to see the picture we have been making for the past few months.
My own spirituality and the way I view the world has been recently shaken. To say it has gone to a deeper level would be an accurate assessment and yet I still have so much more learning and growing to do.
Actually, I don’t think I’ll ever be done learning and growing.
This past Saturday, we spent the day in a run-down apartment complex inhabited mostly by men and women who have been incarcerated. The rent is cheap and as a result, the community was in desperate need of some repair and beautifying.
“Show me what you say” is the mantra that has been steadily replayed in my mind since Jay shared this story last week. Isn’t that such a nugget of goodness to apply to everything we do? I have recently been trying to keep this phrase front and center as I parent my children. I am so desperately trying to show them what I say.
I want to share some photos of our experience but before I do, I want to speak for a moment on serving others.
I have not done well with serving others outside of my little world. I have been serving a brood of small children for five years now. And a husband. And a dog. And my Lord. But wait? Could I be serving my Lord more?
Even when I feel like a turnip whose bloodwell is empty, I know in my deepest being that there is SOMETHING I can do to make a difference. Every little thing truly does matter – even if all you can do right now is volunteer once a month.
What’s your passion? What makes your pulse race a little bit faster and words flow quicker than usual?
For me, I know I am being called to minister to 1) women, particularly mothers of young children, 2) abused and neglected children and 3) the homeless. If you don’t know, I suggest going to God in prayer and asking Him to reveal this to you because trust me, He will. Oh how He will.
If you have young children, such as me, I know that the first thing on your mind might be “Now when on earth would I fit in time to work in our local soup kitchen?” because that’s what I’ve always said.
But truthfully? I can do it. I just have to reprioritize and give myself grace when I can’t. Remember that He gently leads those with young. (Isaiah 40:11).
I loved serving with my congregation this past weekend. It was incredible to see the young and old come together to share in a common goal – to love the “least of these” who have been cast-off by society and written off as troublemakers. I met people in our congregation I would not normally have had the chance to meet and I had wonderful conversations with some of the residents.
And you know what? I didn’t mention anything about God or Jesus or anything that remotely touched upon my faith. I let my actions speak for me.
I listened to them. I repeated back to them what I thought they were telling me. I told them I would pray for their dreams to come true (OK. I did say that. I guess I hinted maybe a little.)
Three men that I spoke with shared with me that they had a dream to go to college. To get out of this life. To start over.
I so pray that they do.
Would they have been thinking this if they hadn’t seen a glimmer of hope this past Saturday? Possibly.
But I like to think that while we were adding mulch and planting perennials, painting doors and window trims, and whacking weeds, we were actually planting dreams and providing nourishment for them to grow while cutting down the negativity that has grown over them. The words that have been spoken over them that say they can’t do it. That they won’t ever leave this life. That they are no good.
Because that’s not the voice of our God. That’s someone else’s voice.
I painted four doors a lovely blue as well as the coordinating white trim. I learned that I am a horrible painter. That’s not the point.
As I painted each door, I prayed for the resident on the other side. That they would know Him. That they would find joy. That they would indeed break free from whatever was chaining them down.
Because you know what? By the grace of God, the table could be turned. I could have so easily been on the other side of the door.
Please take a moment to view the video Jay made of our experience on Saturday. Please watch it all – the “Before” and “After” shots at the end will blow you away!
For more service inspiration, please visit Passion to Action.
Please note that I am not being paid to promote their organization.