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?
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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?
Why do I do what I do? Why do I live the way that I live? These are 2 questions that I am asked on a regular basis. Then, I am often ‘warned’ against the many, many things that could go wrong and the risks that I am assuming. Then, I am usually told how unsafe it is and how they could never live like that. This conversation happened in-depth again this week. I am guessing that some of you and many others think the same way, and I want to respond the best that I can. I should say ‘we’ now that I am married, but often times – I tend to be more provocative than Louis… I’m the gas pedal. Louis tends to be the brake.
Why do I do what I do?
Why do I live the way that I live?
Nearly 8 years ago, I felt a calling to move into Southern Barton Heights. I struggled with it a bit. I was not at all used to a community that had such heavy street crime – drugs, prostitutes, shootings, etc. I also wasn’t used to being the minority – one of the few white folks for what felt like miles around. I had no idea what God had in store for me, but I knew that I had a choice to be obedient to what God called me to do, or be disobedient – running, like Jonah. I really didn’t want to end up in the belly of a big fish. And, I was also somewhat excited.
Since that time, I have learned so much about myself, about others, and about God. Louis and I attempt to live in reckless abandon to what God has called us to do. We have good days, and we have bad ones. Let me recap the last 8 years.
8/17/2005 – I bought a house and moved into my beloved Southern Barton Heights; and God made it a home.
8/19/2005 – (Yes, 2 days later.) I meet a bunch of the neighborhood children – when they ask me if I have any kids that can come out to play. We bake and eat a ton of chocolate chip cookies together. We live life together, and I don’t go anywhere alone. To the grocery store – I’ve got some with me. We’d talk about the price of groceries, good eating choices, explaining different types of fruits and vegetables. I’m sure it is not much different from when a parent takes their kids to the grocery store – even down to the ‘put that down’, ‘no, you can’t have that’, ‘come back over here’, ‘stop running’, etc. It wasn’t much later that Miss Marti, Miss Marti’s House, and Miss Marti’s Kids became everyday language.
I’m working full-time and traveling quite a bit for work. Even today, some of the kids, now grown, talk about how they would ring my doorbell, only to be disappointed because I was traveling….AGAIN. The group of mainly boys steadily grows. One comes to live with me after his mom passes and his dad ends up in the hospital. One of the most challenging situations to date.
We are having sleepovers, parties, brunches, and other fun field trips. But, I am no longer doing all the things that I used to do. Movies, dinners out with friends, and fun trips became less and less. In fact, some friends weren’t willing to come to my home because they didn’t feel safe. As time progressed, I am happy to report that my friends feel much more comfortable and will even spend the night!
December 2006 – This life continues until my new mentor, pastor and friend, Don Coleman gives me Luke 10:1-7, which changes my prayer from ‘Lord – will I ever have a husband?’ to ‘Lord – I’m praying for the other half of my pair. Someone who can go on this adventure….carry out God’s mission with me, just as Jesus sent out his folks 2 at a time in Luke 10.’ And, I continue to hang out with the kids, yet I learn that my job and my company is relocating to St Louis, and God tells me to stay in Richmond. I was left wondering how in the world I would pay my bills.
12/27/2007 – God answers my prayer….and I talk to Louis for the first time on the phone and set up our first date. Arranged by God, Don and another friend, Jennifer.
12/30/2007 – I meet Louis for the first time on a blind date….dinner at Edo’s Squid. YUM!
12/31/2007 – God answers another prayer! Louis joins me on our first joint mission – a New Year’s Eve party for some of Miss Marti’s Kids…giving them a safe place to hang out.
1/27/2008 – A guy gets shot 9 times outside the back door on our 4th date. Needless to say – that changed up our date that night…and our lives as we entered into a lovely relationship with the victim (yes, he lived) and his family. Earning some street cred with another population in the community. We continued dating, as Miss Marti’s Kids watched – sometimes way more closely than I would have liked…asking all kinds of questions, usually pertaining to kissing, sex (or our lack of!!), and more. I wasn’t prepped for that one at all! Our “family dynamics” were challenged and shifted as a male adult entered the picture. Many a family meeting were held as Louis’s position in our ‘family’ was challenged, and as Louis and I moved toward engagement and marriage.
12/27/2008 – Louis and I tied the knot and officially start our mission as a married couple. So much has happened since!
12/31/2010 – My position at work finally comes to an end, after being extended several times due to another merger. God was so gracious with me as my identity was challenged, my faith was tested, our finances were being stretched and our spending plan was being tightened. But, God has us on an assignment…in our community and our city. As we engage in organic community/church, Christian Community Development, and living out God’s mission in our everyday, walk around lives. All the while…encouraging and mentoring others to do the same. Walking alongside churches, small groups, individuals, etc. who are trying to figure this kind of life out.
1/1/2012 – Louis and I find ourselves both working without pay for 5 months. We are busy doing God’s work, just not getting paid for it here on earth.
5/20/2012 – Louis has a short stent (10 months) in an interim pastor’s position, which ends in a way that totally surprised us and a lot of other people. But, I know that it didn’t surprise God, and He’s in control. I am grateful for that time. Even though it is marred with difficult times that weren’t at all Christlike or God-glorifying, I am so thankful for the many lovely friends we have made, stories and lives and journeys that we share with so many people who now worship at a number of different locations.
Today – I could complain incessantly about the days that I am frustrated because change hasn’t happened soon enough, because empty chip bags, styrofoam boxes, and ‘urban tumbleweeds’ (black plastic shopping bags from the 2 local stores) litter our streets, because the corner dealer is still slinging heroin 8 years later, because negative influences move in and pollute the minds, souls and hearts of my neighbors and their children, because well-meaning people drop in and out doing more harm than good ‘in the name of Jesus’, because the education system, economic development, affordable housing, mass incarceration, crime and poverty still seem to be rampant.
But, then God gives me a glimpse of how HE is at work in my beloved community. Now, 8 years later, we still have kids (some now 8 years older!!!) hanging out the house and doing life…and joining us in God’s mission. It’s not by hit-and-run ministry, but through new suburban friends who are willing to sacrifice their time to come be in relationship with me and my friends and neighbors. It’s how God pulls 6 neighborhood moms together with me and a couple of suburban moms during Camp Splash to build community. One who stated she prays that we will become a group of moms who will transform the community. Today – the sacrifices and frustrations, the difficulties and challenges, the pain and tears, the loneliness and sometimes feelings of isolation… it’s all worth it.
It takes time.
So…back to the question.
Why do I do what I do? Why do I live the way that I live?
Because just as the Father sent Christ, Christ sent me. I’m about doing the Father’s business, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I was recently nominated for Epoch Award. And they have recently asked, what this nomination means to me. It’s an honor to be nominated and be recognized as an unsung hero… one who could share in $50,000 cash awards that would allow Louis and I to continue to be about God’s mission in our community and to continue encouraging, challenging, and mentoring others to live a radically obedient life that honors God and make the name of Jesus famous. It would help to bridge our finances until another paying gig comes our way. You know, it’s an honor to be even nominated because this isn’t a formal non-profit. It’s a way-of-life. It’s the way we roll. It’s what God calls us to do.
That’s what we want to encourage others to do. Go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and do what God has called you to do in your everyday, walk-around life.
Love God. Love others. Go make disciples who will make disciples.
On April 1, 2012, my friend, Sara Kennedy, asked if I would speak to a group at her church about being a good neighbor…telling stories of my life in Southern Barton Heights. It was my honor to tell how God uses me and changes me through this experience. Thanks for allowing me to be part of Shalom Richmond at Stony Point Pres.
While attending the CCDA Immersion training, we had the opportunity to spend time with Wayne “Coach” Gordon, author of who is my neighbor? This is an important question that we need to ask ourselves in light of what Jesus shares with us in Luke 10 ~ love God. love your neighbor as yourself. But, how do we define ‘neighbor’? The people who live next door to us? on the block? down the street? While studying the story of the Good Samaritan, you learn who Jesus says is your neighbor. This book helps define that. I started reading it, and realized that it will be best read one chapter at a time.
So, starting August 1st…for 40 days….I’m going to start reading it….meditating on it…..thinking about a chapter a day. I hope to post my thoughts each day…but, not sure that will happen. I’ll have good intentions though!!!
Wanna join me? Get yourself a copy and join me in the conversation. Let me know if you do!
In the mean time…let’s take another look at Luke 10 (NIV)…The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
OUCH! That kinda stings….
This week….5 years ago….I moved into Southern Barton Heights!!! WOW! What a wild ride it has been. If you had asked me 5 ½ years ago where I would be living…this would be the LAST place I would have said. Actually…I didn’t even know that this part of Northside even existed. When I first started looking for a new home, I drove through SBH quite by accident….following 2nd Street until it turned to the left and dropped me off at 1st Street. I was simply just trying to get to the other side of I-95….where you see those houses up on the hill to the right as you come from 64 to 95N. So…I naively drove through Gilpin Court/Jackson Ward and across the 1st Street bridge and into SBH. I remember thinking….this would be a great neighborhood…if only it was located somewhere else. I fell in love with the architecture and the community feeling of it. But, as I drove through, I just knew it was not for me….and kept looking elsewhere. Then, I came back…entering Battery Park by way of Overbrook…and seriously considered some houses adjacent to the park. Friends…both white and black/African-American told me I couldn’t move there….as a single white woman…that I would be a target. So, I stopped looking in Northside.
Then, I continued to look in other parts of Richmond…and placing contracts on houses…and getting totally shot down! Remember, this was the height of the housing boom. Somehow, I ended up back in the SBH area looking for a home. You can read more of that story in the following posts… In the beginning…, Daring God and Our House…..
Something (or should I say…Someone!!!) kept bringing me back to this area….and that was God. I had NO idea why!!! Nor did I ask, surprisingly enough. Walking in blind faith…or stupidity, not sure which I was doing at the time! Now that 5 years have gone by…I can see why the Lord wanted me here….for serving others….and changing ME! I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Only God could have made the changes in me. There have been times that I have tried doing this on my own…in my own strength and power. But I have learned that I am not capable of that and sustain it for the long-term. When I let the Holy Spirit guide me, and allow God to show off….(to use Christianese for a minute…I must decrease, He must increase…..)that is when the real stuff happens! That is when the impossible happens. I can name sooo many times when God filled me with His Power…the Holy Spirit…to do His work. I am so much more dependent on God than I was 5+ years ago!
This week, I’ve been reading this book called Radical by David Platt….and it has really been challenging me. Some people would ask….why are YOU reading a book called Radical? You could write it. What you have done is radical!!!” Yes…moving to Southern Barton Heights may be called radical…but not nearly radical enough….is what I am realizing. Platt writes on page 68…
In the Gospels we see how Jesus ended his time on earth by commanding his followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The letters are filled with the same emphasis as Paul, Peter, James and John led the church through persecution and suffering to spread the glory of God to the nations.
So…that same commandment is for us….today. So…what we do here in SBH is really not all that radical to Jesus…this is what he expects of us. Luke 10:1 talks about how while on earth Jesus sent people off in pairs to villages to prepare for him to come…as they didn’t have cell phones, internet, etc to announce it. In 2007, I prayed for the other ½ of my pair….to prepare SBH for Jesus to come! And that’s when I met Louis 2½ years ago. I truly feel like the Lord has sent us here…to prepare the way for Jesus to come. His presence is already here. You can see it…feel it…in so many ways. The revival that will take place will not be because of anything that WE did….but what the LORD did.
Platt also writes on page 46….
The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him.
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through. ~Francis Chan, Forgotten God
In addition, nowhere in the Bible does it say that it will be easy and glamorous. No one said that it would be a piece of cake. In fact…Jesus DOES say that we will be persecuted for HIS name sake….that people hated on Him before they hated on us. The Bible also says that we should find pure JOY in suffering. That joy part…I am still a work in progress there! I have a ways to go!
Later, I will share with you some of the suffering, persecution, or discomfort that we have encountered since beginning this work. Not to point us, but to point to how faithful the Lord has been through it. Please pray for wisdom and strength as we continue to be the Light on the City Hill.