What an amazing day of ministry! What was easily the longest and hardest day on this trip has yielded some awesome fruit for our team. Barriers broken, hearts uplifted, lives touched…maybe I should share it with you.
We started the day by working to rehab a house that needed some MAJOR yard work. The grass had been mowed weekly by a local nonprofit agency, but the trees were out of control, weeds had taken over the yard, and the house was absolutely covered with a thorny ivy spawned in the twisted mind of Satan himself. The stuff blacked out all the windows and had even begun to wind into the attic, becoming a tangled mess that choked out hedges, trees, and harbored two wasp nests and a beehive, the lattermost of which swarmed us as we cut down the treacherous vine. We cut, we snipped, we pulled, we raked, we bagged, we bundled…we WORKED. “Everyone had a job, and we got the job done fast,” Trudie said. There’s a long way to go, though. We have more work to do on Day 4 at the front yard and the back yard looks like it would require a small-yield nuclear weapon to clean up. Right when we’re running out of fuel, Day 4 will test us.
We were all thankful that activity could be enjoyed inside and from a seated position! Whirlyball was a great chance to blow off some steam and bumper-car our cares away. Treyson was a champ and made a clutch goal from all the way across the court!
After some chill time and an incredible dinner prepared by the Ranne adult LifeGroup and Holly Cunningham’s 9th grade girls LifeGroup, we headed to a hot and humid VBS. It was hot. And humid. The humid hotness was a bit overwhelming as we ran around outside with kids whose energy never seems to stop. Did I say it was hot and humid? It was! But despite the inhospitable weather, we had 40+ kids come and hear the gospel message, delivered up front by Trudie Troublefield and individually by many of our students. Just like at the house, everybody had a job. Not all the kids joined the group games and crafts, but every kid had a student or adult leader playing with them, smiling with them…loving them. Jocelyn shared the gospel for the first time with a child; a little girl started a conversation with her and asked her very clearly to tell her about God. Jocelyn proceeded to tell her about Jesus and what He did on the cross. I wish you all could have seen the joy on Jocelyn’s face as she told the group what happened! Her elation was evident…you don’t forget your first time bringing the words of eternal life to another. Our introverts AND our extroverts all engaged fully in reaching kids; no one held back effort in the task set before us!
After crashing the High School Wooden Door after-party at DQ, we headed back to the school for a surprisingly energetic time of worship and debrief. Despite a grueling day of service, our students sang their hearts out in telling of God’s greatness in our lives and thanking Him for what we seen Him do. We closed our worship time in a time of corporate prayer, telling Jesus what is so great about Him. The room erupted in an incredible outpouring of praise that had students talking over one another to openly declare the goodness of our God. I was personally moved to tears! In debrief, the students laid down some serious wisdom that blew us all away. A sample: “You have to be fearless for other people to learn about Jesus.” “If you are fearful and scared when you talk to people, they won’t want to talk to you. But if you are confident, they want to talk.” Our students are learning a LOT about engaging people with the gospel message!
We closed our evening time by looking at Philippians 2:5-8 and examining how we can emulate the humble attitude of Jesus in our service. We talked about that we are to follow Jesus’ attitude in all ways except for one: whereas He came down from heaven to serve us, we don’t come down from anywhere to serve one another. We and those we serve are all children of God, brothers and sisters in humanity. It is wise to “look around” at our neighbors needs and “look up” toward God, but we are never to “look down” at anyone else. We are all of us a few tragedies away from poverty, and a calamity or two is all that stands between those who serve, give, and donate and those who are served, given to, and donated to. And really, ALL of us need something! All of us are richly given to by others and by God! None of us are independent! We are all poor in spirit and made rich only by God’s grace.
What an awesome and exhausting day! We have just one more full day of service, so please pray for perseverance. We will need every ounce of effort we can muster not only to serve, but to do it with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. Sound like a God-sized job? It will be. Thanks for your love and support, parents!
Disclaimer: Parents, I’ve been trying to text you every day but for some reason my phone is not allowing me to text the group of you. I’m sorry about that, and I hope you all get to read the blog!