Living a life of mission can be really rewarding some days. But, many are just plain TOUGH! A constant struggle between the microwave, instantaneous society we live in, and the sometimes difficult, almost ALWAYS lengthy process of going deep and building relationships. Living a life of mission is to BE the church and DO the Bible. It’s not a drive-by, hit-and-run way of life. As a matter of fact, it is a way of life, not a one-time event or project. That’s what makes it so hard….and that’s what makes it so rewarding at the same time. With my new ‘eyes’, I can’t just go home and not see the challenges every. single. moment. of. every. single. day. On days where it’s more challenging than most, it’s a matter of pausing from my ‘Martha’ activities and spending time going deep in my relationship with Jesus….it’s time to ‘Mary’.
This morning has been a ‘Mary Morning’. For reasons left untold, the last 24 hours have been tough – mentally and emotionally – for me. My ‘Mary Morning’ consisted of…
- reading God’s Word
- sitting quietly
- a few emails/texts with friends encouraging and praying
Gardening…I recently learned that I really love gardening. I knew NOTHING about it. Yet, God has revealed a lot to me through this gardening process…and especially this morning when I was playing in my veggie garden.
When planting a garden…
1. It’s important to do a little research and take time to prepare. Friends would say – just throw it in the ground and see what happens….you can always dig it up, transplant it, throw it away when it dies. If you know me well enough, you would know that I’m not that person. I’m more thoughtful…doing research (ad nauseam)… trying to figure out the best way to do it…asking questions. Total fear of failure! Louis did research on the best way and size to build the raised beds. H learned what he needed to do before he got started. Measured 10x before he cut.
- Living a Life of Mission –
- Ask God questions like – where are you at work, God? how can I join you in what you are doing? what would you have me do in my community? where is my person of peace?
- Ask your self questions seeking your motivation. We must first prepare ourselves… Someone once said… You must be a changed agent in order to be an agent of change. Safety precautions are airplanes state to give yourself oxygen before you help someone else. We must first know who we are and whose we are before we can be sent out by God.
- Ask the community questions like – If I brought coffee tomorrow, would you be interested in hanging out during soccer practice/ballet class/etc? What are your dreams for your children, community, family, life? What keeps you up at night? Could you help me with….?
2. I actually had put off planting a vegetable garden, because it was something new…and I didn’t know where to start! I didn’t want to screw it up. I was afraid. I had to take a risk and just do it. After doing a little research and asking a few friends questions, Louis built me 2 4×10 beds (yeah…that’s not starting small….). We threw down some newspaper and some dirt, and planted a few seedlings from Lowe’s. Wasn’t going to even try starting from seeds!
- Living a Life of Mission –
- Talk to some friends who are doing it. Ask questions. Watch them. Be willing to share your fear. You will learn they were afraid initially, too!
- Start small. You don’t have to make it a big production….actually don’t make it big event. Work it into the everyday rhythms of your life…but yet it does require intentionality. Pray for opportunities to be a blessing to someone because God gave you new eyes to see.
3. I got a late start at gardening. Louis and I didn’t plant our garden until the end of May. Friends have been reaping their harvest for weeks. Mine is just coming in. I came close to giving up and just waiting until the fall or even next year. Louis encouraged me by building them anyway…as my birthday gift. It was indeed a labor of love, because carpentry doesn’t come naturally to him. He’s a plumber, car mechanic, electrician….not a carpenter.
- Living a Life of Mission –
- You aren’t meant to do this alone. In Luke 10:1, Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs….2×2 to prepare the way for Jesus to visit. Pray for the other half of your pair.
- Call in reinforcements. I am grateful for my friends who join me in the journey.
- It’s never too late to get started. Plant where you are. Plant where you go. Plant in good soil…where God is moving. It doesn’t matter when you start – just start.
4. Things go wrong. Birds, deer, and bugs eat your potential bounty. Bees don’t come to pollinate your flowers, so you have to change your approach. Dogs dig up your plants… or in my case…eat my dirt. (Weird…I know…but Bella loves the rich, ‘meaty’ dirt!) so you build a fence. Storms and hail come and beat up your poor little plants. (I’m thankful that we planted late! The hail storm that came earlier wrecked some friends’ gardens.) And then…there’s the dreaded…ugly ‘dog vomit fungus’. Yes…true story…and it was GROSS! It required tender, loving care..and removal of the fungus and adjusting the soaker hose.
- Living a Life of Mission –
- The enemy…Satan…seeks to discourage, kill and destroy. Yes. It is true. Be prepared. Our God is ALL POWERFUL!
- Timing is everything. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. God’s timing is always right on time. Trust Him.
- Turn to the Lord. Trust that the Lord of the Harvest raises up laborers…He draws them near.
- Christian community is often the fence around your new seedlings. Build a fence of support and community to protect your upcoming fence. Sunday morning church service isn’t enough. It needs to be closer, more intimate discipleship…tending, sowing truth, etc.
5. It takes time. Plants take time to grow…some grow faster than others. There were a few moments I just wanted to give up…and let the beds go to weed. Some start slow and then take off like crazy. Some are weaker than others..and aren’t producing anything at all…and are almost dead. No 2 plants are the same. 2 days ago I had a cucumber that was about 5 inches long. Today…it was about 9 inches, and I am eating it!
- Living a Life of Mission –
- Surround yourself with support and encouragement, too. You are not meant to be a lone ranger.
- Tend to the garden…and to the gardener. Go to the Master Gardener who will tend to you.
- Look for the little wins. Where God is at work.
- Praise God in the difficult challenging times….and for the fruit of your labor!
A few scriptures that often encourage me…
Galations 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Time to get busy… Want to join the conversation on living on mission?
Check out this opportunity!
click the link below…
Every year, we hold our annual community Memorial Day Party! Come if you can…and bring something to share! Here’s last year’s post if you wanna check it out… Memorial Day 2013. See you Monday!
Jen Hatmaker Speaks…
RVA: UNDER CONSTRUCTION
METRO Richmond, VA is under construction!
WE, the Church, are being called to rebuild it by fulfilling the mission Jesus gave us:
Love God. Love Neighbor.
Make Disciples who Make Disciples.
Join us in welcoming Jen Hatmaker, as 700+ attendees will hear Jen speak and discuss what it means to live on that mission as an individual, as a small group or family, and as a church! Jen’s message is NOT just for women only! GUYS – You are welcomed and encouraged!!! Although many of her books are geared toward women, her message is for everyone who is part of the body of Christ in RVA: men, women, church leaders, young adults, singles and parents!
Location:St. Giles Presbyterian Church 5200 Grove Avenue Richmond, VA 23226
Friday 8/15 6-9:30pm
Saturday 8/16 8:30a – 1p
Saturday “Un-conference” - Attendees are encouraged to continue the dialogue following the event with new friends and old by joining them for lunch at various places throughout Richmond. More information will be provided as the date approaches.
Who is Jen Hatmaker?
Jen Hatmaker and her husband, Brandon, live in Austin, TX where they lead Austin New Church and raise their brood. They pioneered Restore Austin, connecting churches to local and global nonprofits for the spiritual and social renewal of Austin and beyond. She is the author of nine books and Bible studies, including Interrupted and 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Jen and Brandon have five children ~ Gavin, Sydney, Caleb; and in 2010 they added Ben and Remy from Ethiopia.
What is Into The Neighborhood?
Into The Neighborhood is a newly formed nonprofit Christ-centered ministry, founded by Louis and Marti Williams, based on scripture:
The Word became flesh…and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:14 (MSG)
For more information, click here > Into The Neighborhood.
Where can I get tickets?
Please Note: Early Bird Prices are available through May 31, 2014. Prices won’t be this low again, and numbers are limited.
Where can I get information about sponsorship?
If you are interested in a sponsorship package please contact Marti below.
We are super excited about seeing you at St. Giles on August 15-16 and are praying for all attendees..
Last week we came up with the idea that we would do some drive-by joy instead of the drive-by shootings that have happened in our community quite a bit lately. You can read about that adventure and more here >> Easter Fun! Thanks for responding!!! You totally answered our plea! Exceeded our expectations! And WOW…are we sooo grateful! Thank you for your generous investment in our ministry and lives!!! You are the BEST friends EVER!
The Easter Bunny and a few neighborhood kids, and I toured the Northside yesterday afternoon…Southern Barton Heights, the Southern Tip of Highland Park, Brookland Park Boulevard, and parts of Battery Park. We greeted people with “Happy Easter!” while giving out candy and smiles to all we saw along the way. We even caused a small traffic jam a couple of times too. OOPS! What a blast!!!
We were greeted with joy, laughter, and smiles. Photos were taken. Fun was had. Candy given out and eaten. We stopped to treat a guy who was walking down Dove Street. He was filled with joy unspeakable. I wish I had gotten his name…knew who he was. But, we gave him joy in the form of candy, and he said “One good turn deserves another. Let me see what I might have to give you.” He presented us with a selection of rings to choose from. These are the ones we chose. His parting words were… “God bless you. Pay it forward!” And…we are. God bless you, too….new friend. God bless you, too.
Ya know, as I pause to look at the picture… to really reflect on my life. As I reflect on this picture…of one White/Caucasian hand among 3 Black/AfricanAmerican hands. I think about all the hate that’s out there. A lot of fear. But, as we approach Easter in another week, I am really reflecting on the cross. Jesus chose to LOVE when he chose to relocate from heaven to earth. He chose love when He died on that cross for our sins.
When I reflected on that picture, I realize that I chose my ring well yesterday..because I chose LOVE on my ring, and I want to choose to LOVE in my life. I really want to choose LOVE every minute of every day. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to hate….with my words, my thoughts and my actions. But, one that I know is that LOVE is a choice. And I want to choose LOVE at all times.
John 3:16-17 (NLT)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Side note: Let us know if you want to join us on one of our drive-bys! Happy to have the company!
Police Chief Tarasovic & Metro Richmond Faith Leaders Partnership
Faith Leaders Walk in Gilpin Court
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 @ 3:00 P.M.
Richmond Police Faith Leaders Partnership takes its positive message of prayer and empowerment to public housing communities. To date, they have gone to Mosby Court, Wittcomb Court and Hillside Court. Following these walks, there have been noticeable decreases in major crimes and violent crimes. Thank the Lord!
As you know, Louis and I live just a short ½ mile north of Gilpin Court. Gilpin Court, Metro RVA’s lowest income census tract, is an infamous community plagued with crimes – murders, shootings, assaults, drugs and more. Some would ask “Can anything good come from Gilpin Court?” However, I have read that same sentiment about someone else I know and love – Jesus. In John 1:46 Nathaniel asks – “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Only Jesus of Nazareth!
I believe a lot of good can come out of Gilpin! Good is already in Gilpin because God is already there! So, join us in what God is already doing in Gilpin by encouraging and praying with and for the people of Gilpin Court.
We believe in the power of prayer to transform communities and cities!
At 3pm on Tuesday, March 11th, we will meet at the Calhoun Center at 436 Calhoun Street. If you plan to attend, bring a guest with you! And remember to wear comfortable shoes and a smile! Also, remember to RSVP to Sgt. Carol Adams at 804.646.4069 or Carol.Adams@richmondgov.com.
If you can’t make it, please join us in praying from where you are! Let’s believe in a transformative time of prayer.
SAVE THE FOLLOWING DATES:
Faith Leaders Walk
April 8, 2014 436 Calhoun St Gilpin Court 3:00 P.M.
Faith Leaders Community Day/Bike Ride
May 17, 2014 436 Calhoun St Gilpin Court 8:00 – 3:00 P.M.
Over the last few years, you have read about Louis, me, Southern Barton Heights and so much more! I recently spoke to a group of 50 women (and a few men, too) at WOVEN’s Hour to Empower Luncheon, and I felt led to share the impact the community has had on me. Here are 11 things I have learned! These are in no particular order, nor is it an all-inclusive list. My learning is ongoing….nonstop….like a firehose.
- I wouldn’t trade my life, my community for any other community in the world. I love my neighbors. I love the way my paradigms are being challenged and shifted. After Frank was shot, he asked me if I was moving. I went on to tell him – that people asked me that same question when the windows were shot out of my car and my car was stolen. “If I had moved, who would be there for you the night you were shot 9 times? All your friends ran. But, God loves you so much!” As a matter of fact, I recently told a friend – after driving south on 76 during 5pm traffic, “I’d rather have that bullet come through my front window every 6 years than deal with this traffic every night!” And…I meant it. Crazy, maybe. Honest though.
- It’s painful, but necessary, to learn the difficulties of the materially poor. Although I didn’t grow up in the ‘rich’ part of the West End, I have been made aware of how my privilege of education, race, and network provides me. The fact that Louis and I have 2 cars, when 60% of the city population has 1 or no car per household.
- I am reminded at any point, that if I have a tire blow out – I have money in savings. Even if I didn’t, I have multiple friends I can call that could loan me money. For many of my neighbors, everyone they know is also in the same situation. Generational poverty is impactful.
- I take for granted that I had a father and mother in my home. Now, my home life was far from perfect. None-the-less, my father was at home and provided for the family. Kids today are growing up in a fatherless society. So, girls and moms don’t even know what to look for and expect. Respect often has never been modeled.
- I have learned that it is not as simple as ‘pull yourselves up by your bootstraps’, but I’ve also learned that handouts create entitlement. (That statement should offend the Republicans and the Democrats equally. LOL)
- I have learned that the church – as an institution and a body of believers, in many cases, have left ‘loving your neighbor’ up to the government. And we can see that that’s not working out well for us right now. The church has outsourced ‘neighbor loving’ to the government and non-profits.
- I have learned that the materially poor inner-city people want the same things I do…that I would dare say most of us want. Safe, affordable shelter. Good schools. Reliable transportation. Steady employment with a living wage. We aren’t all that different. We are all have sinned. All have fallen short. And we all are made in God’s image. And that being materially poor takes great faith!
- As a bit of a type A personality, I have also learned to leave capacity in my schedule. I need to leave time in my calendar to say Yes to God. Louis and I are praying over our calendar more than ever before.
- As a group of women, I can also share that I have learned that having my house clean and in order is no longer a top priority. I would be exhausted if it were! With the sheer number of neighbors we have coming by along with 2 aging labs, Bella and Wesley, it’s impossible.
- I have learned that I don’t have the answers. Nothing is that simple. It’s actually quite complex. It’s vastly important to ask questions and to listen more than we talk. It’s more important to do things WITH the community not FOR or TO the community. Even though it will probably take much longer, it will be much longer lasting and sustainable.
- Prayer has become an integral part of my life. My passionate pursuit of God has become my #1 priority….well, most of the time. I try to anyway.
Why do you live where you live? What have you learned about yourself, God or your community recently?
Louis and I have been walking along side a mom and her children as they try to navigate the complex, arduous processes of the government and non-profit systems for ‘helping’ the homeless. (You may have read some of it in my last post… If you missed it, check this out…. Help Even the Unrighteous Poor.) Some time in the near future, I’m going to write at length all the steps, phone calls, emails, etc. that we have made to city council, DSS, RRHA, Commonwealth Catholic Charities – Central Intake, and countless non-profits. Yet, this family is still living in a hotel with no access to a kitchen. She’s currently on unemployment, because her seasonal position ended….a whopping $100. Since she’s on unemployment her food stamps have decreased to $400….to feed a family consisting of herself plus 4 children under the age of 18. And…remember….food stamps doesn’t cover prepared foods. So, without a kitchen food choices are limited. And, her food stamps haven’t lasted the whole month. Thankfully she does have a car to get to a decent grocery store, but gas is running low – as she now has to transport her children to 3 different schools…not to mention all the running around…trips to DSS, RRHA, Central Intake, etc.
Did you know that shelter space for families has a few week waiting list??? Where are all of those families living???? In this families’ case, they could be with a family member – exposing their children to drugs/alcohol addictions and all that comes with it and worse.
Oh yeah…and RRHA has 3-4 bedroom apartments available. Yet, she can’t have one, because she hasn’t taken the required budgeting class, orientation, etc which aren’t scheduled for weeks.
So, she remains in a hotel…funded by who???? Oh….take a guess. Let’s just say – it’s NOT any of those organizations, although she did get a week from DSS.
And today I learn…Mom has a job orientation tomorrow AND got a phone call for a housing opportunity at the same time. Which do you choose when you can’t do both???
Getting the idea????
Church… what are we doing about that??? what CAN we do?
There’s another family who we are doing life with… food stamps cut to $400 for a family of mom and 5 children under the age of 18….3 of which are growing boys. Car is working, but needs new tags. She can’t get to her job.
How could that be?
Did I mention that the schools are closed? Therefore children who usually receive breakfast and lunch are now hungry…really hungry.
Church… what are we doing about that? what CAN we do?
I’m not just talking about handing out free food, although we could use some for both families! (Let me know if you are interested!) I’m talking about relationships…mentoring…loving. When I read the Bible, I don’t read that Jesus said – “oh…go on down to the Food Bank, DSS, RRHA, RBHA or any other organization.” When I read about the Good Samaritan, this is what I read…
Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)
The Most Important Commandment
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Church – who is your neighbor???
Parable of the Good Samaritan
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Let’s take a look at that again…
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
When you look at our current system of taking care of the least of these, does ‘neighbor loving’ look like the way Jesus described it in verses 33 and 34???
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.In modern times, what does compassion look like???
34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.
- How can we treat the wounds of abuse, addiction, family fragmentation, limited education, lack of financial skills, job restrictions?
- What is modern day ‘olive oil and wine”? We can’t just bandage them without the treatment.
- So what does it look like to sooth the wounds in today’s time??
34 (cont) Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
- OK…so then, he carried him to the inn on his donkey. That means he had to walk! They both couldn’t ride on the donkey. Which really means he WALKED BESIDE HIM while guiding the donkey to a place of healing. An inn. Where he took care of the battered and broken.
- What does it look like to WALK ALONG SIDE of a beat up, tired, frustrated, hopeless family who has no place to lay their head?
So, I am left wondering…where was this Samaritan Man going? Where was he walking when he happened along the beat up man?? How could he afford the time to stop what he was doing? We don’t know that part of the story. But, what we do know….is that he stopped. He put his plans on hold. And he walked alongside a beat up, naked man. He gave of his OWN money and he STAYED in the process with him until he could take of himself.
What would that look like today? For a unsuspecting person or family to walk along side a broken, beat-up, naked, hungry, possibly homeless family until they could take care of themselves? Anyone willing to try?
That is your challenge….by choice because it IS a choice…a conscious decision. What choice will you make?