in-town mission field
Sitting in the Lodge at the In-Town Mission team meeting, I started to have doubts about going on this trip, thinking, “I could just stay home with Tommy and Thompson this week.” I recognized only one of the kids and marveled that our leader was the age of my own children! As I sat in the cool, familiar darkness of the Lodge, looking around at the signs and artwork Caroline and I had worked on together in years past, I began to feel old. The Lodge looked the same, but the people were different. Since taking last year off from High Life, I was realizing how quickly I could go from knowing all the kids to not knowing anyone. I had signed up for this trip after hearing Jake’s sermon about “taking action” several weeks ago. For months I had felt a growing sense of desperation to do something new, to get my hands dirty, to make a difference, to “lose my life in order to keep it” and to better understand how God turns the suffering of this world into something good.
Our week began Sunday morning at Lincoln Village Church where we were challenged to look and listen for needs and to take action. Each night we had “family time,” during which we talked about restoring this broken world and how we long for our new home described in Isaiah 60:20, where the Lord is our everlasting light and our days of sorrow are ended.
Each day we went out in groups to different sites associated with Lincoln. We painted apartments and Martin Luther King School, passed out food at Manna house, “demo-ed” a house, stocked the food pantry and helped move a family at the Village, and trimmed hedges and painted goals around the Boys and Girls Club. (You’ve got to hear their drum line, a highlight of our week!) We met folks of all ages who live around Lincoln and saw with our own eyes the great need here. We began to get a sense of the good work being done here and to feel a part of a bigger story of God redeeming His kingdom here on earth.
These High-Life kids worked tirelessly and cheerfully each day. I never heard a single complaint the whole week. Everyone began to brainstorm about creative ways to stay involved in the community. The exciting part of In-Town missions is how easy it is to return to the site the very next week! In fact, we’ve already been back and have more plans for the coming year.
It was satisfying to work hard all day and hang out together each evening. I really wanted to get to know the kids by the end of the week, and this happened as we all worked toward a common purpose. The last night, to my surprise, the girls asked me to give my testimony, and afterwards, they poured out the love of Christ on me as we laughed and cried and prayed together.
This week illustrated for me once again how God uses us at our weakest point, and this gives me hope. We are all part of a beautiful story that God is mysteriously working out here on earth, and it was exciting to see that story unfolding before my eyes. At Lincoln, I sweated alongside 30 High-Life kids and now have a bunch of precious new “children” to love on! I co-labored with old and dear friends this week as well. Another joyful surprise was getting to work with my son who was helping in the Village this summer. How satisfying it was using crowbars to dismantle a house together, and we didn’t even plan it! Finally, a most unexpected blessing happened right on the sidewalk in Lincoln when God allowed me to meet up with a favorite young friend from years past and hear about his life—a life that personifies God’s redemption. We talked about forgiveness, and he said something that I won’t forget: “I finally realized we don’t have to get good in order to come to God; we come to Him and He does the work.” It encourages me to remember that these moments don’t happen by chance…that God is working all things together for good just like He said He would.