There has been a ton going on!!! We’ve been so busy that we really haven’t had time to blog about it! So, I will get you caught up….but in no certain order! Just random posts about what has been going on the last month! Although our calendar has been full of serving our community (and a few persecutions by some who don’t necessarily like what we are doing in the name of Jesus!), we had a awesome time relaxing with our family.
My aunt Pat (I call her Aunti Patti) came for a visit from Oregon in early July and stayed with us. On Friday night of her visit, we had a bunch of friends over so Pat could see them all at once. It was a wonderful time to catch up with long-time (note… I did not say OLD!!!) friends (and their kids who have grown up soooo fast!!!) who I haven’t seen in too long. Although, I hope that we will all do a better job of staying on touch! I didn’t get nearly as many pictures as I had hoped to!
In addition, my sister Rebecca and Nat, my nephew, came to visit! It was a great time of catching up with family! Louis and I even managed to take Nat and Madison (my local niece) to Water Country USA on one of those 100+ degree days! And…we managed to make it to our first Squirrels game….we won!!! And…we had chill time with family in Mom and Dad’s back yard. I can’t believe I didn’t get a pic of my sister!!! Argh!
Last Sunday, we also had a wonderful time of fellowship with The Walkers, who are long-time friends of Louis’ and missionaries in Panama, Brenda’s home country. We, again, had a gathering to provide Chris and Brenda an opportunity to share the work they are doing in Panama and Chris’ online ministry, Evangelism Coach. We had a great time meeting some new people, as we welcomed their friends into our home. We also had a special time of prayer for the Walker Family as they serve the Lord in Panama. (This time, I realized I got no pics of the kids…dag.)
OK….the last family/friend night….was in Charlotte, NC, Louis’ old stompin’ grounds. Right after he wrapped up his Math Degree (yes…I said MATH!!!) at Davidson, Louis served in a church across the street from Piedmont Court, one of Charlotte’s project. He and a friend, Richard, bought a house together and lived and served there for about 5 years. Richard lives in that same house and until recently, continued to serve that same community even though the projects had since been torn down and replaced with mixed income housing.
While assisting with his mom as she continued to heal from her knee replacement, Louis was able to reconnect with Richard. And on our last trip to Charlotte, I was able to meet his long-time ministry partner who I had heard sooo much about. Meet Richard…a man I have grown to love and respect….and appreciate for his sound advice. (And, Ladies…he’s single!!!!
We are sooo blessed to have friends and family who love us…and whom we love! Being in ministry can sometimes be tough…and discouraging…but, God has blessed us with wonderful, loving, and caring family and friends with whom we can fellowship…and just chill! We are glad to have done that…a lot…in July.
Some of you might ask….Marti…what exactly ARE you doing in this community? or you may have seen or heard me talk/write about being “on mission with Jesus”.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands:
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is referred to as the Great CO-MISSION, because you are CO-laboring or CO-missioning WITH Jesus. But, you may say….I don’t know how to or I’m scared. But let’s take a look at Acts 1: 8. It states:
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
You are NOT alone!!! All you need is the power of the Holy Spirit. Look at what happens…YOU will be witnesses. “Witnessing” has gotten a bad wrap for sooo many reasons! It has been done poorly by a lot of people, including ME! But, let the Spirit guide you in your conversations and remember there is NO condemnation!!! For we have ALL fallen short…and frankly, I fall short every day….EVERY day!
This quick, short video explains what a Missional Church looks like. Imagine if EVERYONE at my church, Commonwealth Chapel took this approach! Imagine if EVERY church was a Missional Church! Imagine if ALL of us were “on mission with Jesus” in our everyday lives…work, home, PTA, gym, dog parks, etc. Imagine…
Where can YOU be Missional today?
I pray that the Holy Spirit will “come on” you, Southern Barton Heights, and the City of Richmond in a powerful way, equipping you/us for your/our personal mission(s) with Jesus. It doesn’t have to be in SBH…that just happens to be mine…and now Louis’.
Last night, Louis had a committee meeting at his church, which left me home alone. I decided that I would take time to get ahead on postings…do a little planning on what stories I would tell and when. I thought I had it all under control when I went to bed last night. But, I woke up this morning at about 5am which is VERY unlike me! There’s nothing better than sleeping in! Knowing that, I believe the Lord takes great JOY in waking me up early to have a little discussion with me. This is hard to put into words as I grapple with it through my tears and fears. I’m still processing. But, I am going to give it a shot…
I have been challenged this week, when I received an email from the director of a local urban ministry. He contacted me to tell me that there was a local suburban church who was looking for a 1-day mission project in a couple of months. Thinking of me and SBH, he gave me a call to see if I could come up with a project for them to do.
Initially, I was THRILLED!!! WOW! Am I an official ministry now?!?!?! That people want to come and help for a day?!?!? But, something just wasn’t sitting right with me. For a couple of days now, I have been thinking…what could they do? I even went on the internet and started looking at what other organizations have done. Asking myself, what does SBH need? What could we do? I couldn’t think of anything that a 1-day trip could accomplish. Then, I was mortified. I started beating myself up! Surely there was SOMETHING!!!! Lord, what was it?!?!
Well, He woke me up with an answer. There may be NOTHING. (Stay with me! I said MAY!!!) There may not be a THING that a 1-day missions trip could do to help my community. Am I trying to force it? This church, I am sure, is full of well-meaning people of God. I know this will sound completely OUTLANDISH to many of you reading this, but could there possibly be more harm done in that 1 day than there will be good?
Let me explain why….
I first thought of odd jobs they could do around the community – yard work, painting, etc. But, then it hit me….How would my friend Everett make his living? Everett does odd jobs at an affordable price for folks around the community. Cutting grass, mulching, planting, washing cars, etc. How would Everett then buy what he needs without that income?
Would we offend people by offering FREE services? The last thing I would want to do is offend the people I have grown to LOVE. No one has come to me with a need that needs to be met. But, I am now asking the right local people for their help.
Then, I thought of “picking up trash”. Well, that would take a few hours. But, wouldn’t it be better if we rallied the community to do that? But, it takes a relationship to rally people. Does this well-meaning church have a relationship with the people to rally them? The simple answer is no, but we do.
I once heard a story about a well-meaning American church who went to a foreign country to build a well in a dry place where the locals had to walk for miles and miles to get clean water. Certainly a worthy cause! The Americans built the well on their own, then went on home to the USA. Then..the well broke down. No one knew how to fix it and the parts were too expensive. So, the people were STILL thirsty, but also frustrated!! They had a taste of what it meant to get water without walking for miles….now it was more difficult than before.
What I realized this morning is that we need those and other well-meaning Christians to INVEST in the urban community. Not just a 1-shot deal. We need folks who understand the impacts and the nature of being poor and are willing to walk along side someone or a family. We need someone who is willing to practice the art of being “present”….of just being there.
Yes, SBH may have people who don’t have a lot of money, but are RICH in spirit. Most of the folks in SBH are hard-working dedicated people. Many people look into SBH and all they see are the prostitutes, the dealers (and their clients), the trash in the street, the homes in disrepair, etc. But, that is what they see from the outside looking in. You need to BE there, PRESENT to see the inside…the many assets of SBH, the pride, the history, the commitment of the pioneers that have been through so much for so many decades…but continue to stick it out.
So now…I need to explore with this church and others. Knowing I can not discount short-term missions trips altogether, I realize that many long-term missionaries and volunteers are born out of 1-day and other short-term missions opportunities. But, I owe it to myself and to my community to do a little investigating first. The last thing I would want to do is bring unintentional harm to SBH or the servants. Is this the beginning of that relationship? How can I partner with this church (and others) without hurting them or SBH at the same time?
A few questions to ask now (albeit not an exhaustive list)…
- Can we come up with a project that will help SBH or someone who lives here? There must be something! I’ve put the word out in the community this morning. Lord…show us the need that we can meet!
- How can I provide the kind of experience for the servants/missionaries where they truly experience the community and learn/benefit from the day? I know it is cliche, but how would Jesus do this?
- Is the CHURCH (the church at large….the Body of Christ) willing to commit…to invest…their time and/or resources to walk it out on the long-term?
is it a box to check?
served a poor urban community in 2010. Check!
I am reminded of a book that friend Don Coleman suggested to me When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor or Yourself. I’ve used it as a resource, but now it’s time to dust if off and give it a good read. If anyone wants to explore this book WITH me, let me know. There are great exercises and probing questions to ask yourself in a group or individual study.
I got to know Fritz Kling when I participated in RCLI (Richmond Christian Leadership Institute) in 2008-2009. You will hear more about RCLI in future posts. But…here are my 2 shameless plugs.
RCLI is accepting applications for its 4th class – 2010-2011.
Annually, RCLI selects a diverse cross-section of young Christian leaders, age 25 – 40 (yes…they made an exception for me….I was definitely over 40!!!), to participate in a nine-month leadership development program that connects them with each other and equips them for biblically-grounded, Christ-centered service in the Richmond, Virginia region.
Beginning with the overnight retreat in September and continuing through their June commissioning ceremony, the “students” gather one Friday evening and Saturday each month to explore issues confronting our region and to consider them from a Christ-centered perspective. A wide array of churches host these monthly sessions, providing a glimpse of the rich diversity of ways through which Christians worship and serve God.
Check out RCLI to apply! (Link is also in the sidebar to the right!) DEADLINE: April 1, 2010.
Fritz Kling authors and publishes his first book!
RCLI is also the brainchild of Fritz Kling. He recently wrote and released his first (of many, I hope!!!) books, The Meeting of the Waters. I can’t wait to purchase my own autographed copy! Here’s the trailer….Enjoy! May the Lord richly bless Fritz and his hard work and many late nights. May God be glorified through his book!!!!!