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Church In The Wild

Posted: July 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ's Sake?

Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services. I will be linking this poem with the D’Verse community where we were given the writing prompt of Wild.

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I don’t exactly remember when I met Kim, but I do remember that I was excited to find someone with four important things in common. 1) our first names 2) our middle names 3) service to our communities 4) love for the Savior. What great things to base a friendship on! She has a lovely place in the blogosphere called From The Heart Online, you really should check it out! And now, without further delay, here is her piece on one of the ways her family shows her community the love of God.

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She walks slow, parading her garbage-poking stick like some kind of baton. He struts a little, wielding his. We search the boulevard and ditches for bags and wrappers to stab and slide into our garbage bag.

Hundreds of others (each one in a bright yellow Tee) spread across the city with gloves and bags, on the hunt for trash. Eleven churches work together to keep this city tidy each spring.

Cool, eh?

I wanted to get in on it, but no way would I drag my kids into community service. They’ve got to want it.

I mentioned the upcoming event, and what it’s about. I asked if they were interested.
“Yeah … but I want to have a grabbing stick so I don’t have to bend down.”

He’s six.

Not eighty. … a young, robust six.

But when they told Dad about it, he offered to make them a poking stick. They were thrilled.

These two tender-hearted kids love to help. Maybe they did sign up to get the poking stick and the free hotdog. Or maybe they were in it for the adventure of an outing. Either way, they voluntarily served their city and had a great time doing it!

And now, when we drive past that boulevard, I hear from the back seat;

“Hey! That’s where WE cleaned up!!”

That’s right. Way to take ownership kiddos.

Join me in welcoming Jen Ferguson. She has a lovely blog called Finding Heaven. It is where I first found community here in the blogsosphere. She is so dear to me. I think you’ll understand why when you’ve gotten to know her!

I am blessed to be a part of a church that values missions outside of our town and inside of our town. With this dual focus, so many people in our church community are able to participate in Jesus’ call to serve those who need help (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc), whether they are around the corner or across the ocean.

Each day of this Spring Break vacation, our church, St. Luke’s on the Lake, partnered with organizations in the Austin area who needed help in various forms. Parishioners took part in as many or as few days as they could, but each moment given produced fruit for the Kingdom of God. Sometimes we may have had the amazing opportunity to witness with our words to those who may not know Jesus, but we always had the opportunity to witness with our actions, with our gifts, and with our smiles. I am struck by the fact that task that are not normally considered heroic or herculean are so incredibly appreciated. And I also appreciate that entering in for the long haul can really assure someone else that God just might be in for the long haul, too.

On the day that those who could help the Refugee Services of Texas, our team literally showed a new refugee (from the Hutu tribe of Burundi) how the bus system of Austin works. This means that they all waited. A lot. However, what we may view as mundane, is life to another. To know and understand where vital resources are in this city is of utmost importance. And in the waiting, a relationship was built, the heart of Christ lived out. Our team leader, Barbara, received this email from the head of the organization:

Thank you again for St. Luke’s generous day of service. Bus orientations are not the easiest task to conquer, however they are valuable for both parties as they give a great inside perspective on the challenges refugees face upon arrival. It is also very demonstrative of refugees’ incredible ability to survive, overcome, and learn new skills in this country despite having faced years of oppression, violence, and displacement.

I am confident that those who traveled around with this newcomer learned as much from him as he did about Austin that day.

At many of the places we visited, there was a lot of gardening, of cleaning up, of beautifying. Those who need help usually don’t have a lot of time to focus on the external growing of things — God is so busy at work at the internal, there is not a lot of time for the other realm (plus, there is often the issue of funds). Or, perhaps their bodies have failed to keep up with the desires of their hearts and they just cannot do the things they long to do anymore. But even though physical labor was a great need, time spent building relationships with the people within these organizations, perhaps produced even more beauty and fruit. After the crew that helped one of Mrs. Josephine, one of elderly ladies that relies on the FarNorthwest Caregivers, this happened:

Ms. J’s personal attendant came out with tears of gratitude in her eyes. Ms. J cannot walk and her health is deteriorating. Her attendant said that she gets so much pleasure from looking out the window at her garden and the birds, but that the garden had become run-down and unkempt. She called us “angels.”

Not only did we enrich them, bringing kindness, smiles, and fun, but they enriched us, often without even knowing they were doing it. Our team leader writes, after she returned from Elderhaven:

I saw God in the tenderness and unspoken connections the Elderhaven clients have one for another. One man held the hand of a woman he has only known a very short while (I’m pretty sure he thinks she is his deceased wife) and they were both happy and content. In the end, maybe it’s not about shared experiences, memories or words, but just simple, loving gestures.

freshly prepared beds at Elder Care

Hard work at the Glory House

Fence repair at the Glory House

Mowing down weeds at the Glory House

basking in a hard day's work

Kitchen repair at the Glory House

weeding and bed preparation at Armadillo RV Park

Abby does crafts with some of the kids who live in the park (many of them have started attending our church, too)

A puppet show!

A task for any ability level. Hannah took such pride in cleaning the picnic tables at the park.

Fr. Parker comes to lend his gardening expertise, too.

Fellowship and celebrating a great day's work with Sno Cones!

This one says it all - so much fruit!

Refugee Services of Texas – Austin
Refugee Services re-settles legal refugees to the U.S. who are fleeing persecution in their home countries. Refugee Services is the entry point for most refugee families, who generally do not know anyone where they are relocating.

Faith In Action Caregivers Northwest
Faith In Action is an organization of volunteers that provide rides for elderly folks living independently in their homes, but who cannot drive anymore. Faith In Action also helps clients with general cleaning and landscaping projects they are not able to do themselves.

Wednesday – Austin Groups for the Elderly/ElderHaven
They have a diverse clientele; some Spanish-speaking participants, and about half of the clients have some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Elderhaven is an adult daycare center for folks who cannot stay home alone while their caregivers are at work.

Luke 4:18 Ministries/House of Glory
House of Glory is a half-way or sober house for women after drug/alcohol rehabilitation or coming off the streets/homeless living. House of Glory provides a safe place for them to live while working on daily living and job skills.

Friday – La Palabra/Armadillo RV Park
Armadillo RV Park is a community of working poor families, mainly Spanish-speaking. We work together to help improve their community and make connections.

Are you interested in doing something like this at your church? You are welcome to contact our team leader, Barbara (barbarafrances@sbcglobal.net) to ask her questions on how to get this started in your area.

Today is Cyber Monday…and in order to get into the spirit of things, I am featuring 4 gifts that you can give 4 Christ’s Sake! So move over Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, here we come!

1. Since human trafficking is the very first issue addressed here at What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake? I thought it would be nice to find an item that donates its proceeds toward ending human trafficking. Look what I found! A beautiful necklace!!

This necklace is made by survivors of human trafficking. Isn’t it lovely? The proceeds from the purchase of one of these necklaces goes to Made By Survivors, an international charity working to stop human trafficking and modern day slavery. This lovely jewelry features silver beads as well as semi precious stones. All for the cost of $88. You can purchase this item here.

2. If you are planning on sending Christmas cards, you may want to check out this possibility. Cards That Give is a non-profit organization that features beautiful cards from hundreds of various charities to which a portion of the proceeds goes to your choice of charities. The pictured card is from the organization God’s Love We Deliver, a charity that brings meals to the critically ill.  These cards are appropriately named “Ice Dining”. A box of 12 cards goes for $17, and can be purchased here.

3. Many of you know how much I ADORE Ann Voskamp. Her book, 1000 Gifts has changed the lives of so many, mine included. She has served as an ambassador for Compassion, and her fifteen year old son Caleb, has decided to use his beautiful gift of carpentry to help raise money for Compassion. This beautiful wreath is called Cradle to Cross Wreath and follows the life of Jesus, well, from the cradle to the cross. Isn’t it beautiful? This beautiful way to celebrate the life of Christ is handmade, by Jacob himself and is available for $68. Check out this website for more information…

4. If you’re more interested in helping someone personally, this family is attempting to adopt 2 children from Ecuador. Adoptions can become ridiculously expensive. This family has designed a tee-shirt which they are selling in order to help them with the cost of adoption. $20 makes you the proud new owner of this shirt…and you’ve helped two children find homes!

Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services. I will be linking this poem with the D’Verse community where we were given the writing prompt of Wild.

I have followed Lisa @ Lisa Notes for some time now. She always shares her heart and gives scriptural foundation with her thoughts. In a world that questions the validity of the Bible, I really appreciate that. Recently, I stopped by her place and read this post. I was so excited because I knew that this post would be perfect for this site! Lisa has a practical idea all of us can do in order to make a difference in our world. This is a great followup to Kristen Bridgman’s post. I know you’ll enjoy this post as much as I did.

Sometimes you look away.

You see the man under the bridge or on the street corner.
But you don’t want to.

So you fiddle with the radio or watch the traffic light or check your phone.
All to avoid the human being.

But other times, you can’t help but stare.
You wonder.
How did this happen? Did he used to have a job? A family? A home?

I often see these men on my way to our public library. They hang out under the Governors Drive overpass.

One Wednesday afternoon a couple weeks ago I couldn’t help but stare. I was first up at the light. The gentleman had a sign.

And this time, I actually wanted to help.

I looked around my car. One opened pack of gum. I couldn’t give that.

All I had to give was eye contact and a smile.
I gave it.

I had been unprepared for the good work God had prepared for me to do.
For this man.
On that Wednesday afternoon.
Under an overpass.

Why?
Laziness? Fear? Cynicism?

But as of yesterday, I traded in my empty bag of excuses for a new package tucked under my driver’s seat: a pair of new socks filled with peanut butter crackers and a juice box.

And a handwritten note that says,

“God has planned good things for you to do today.
Jesus will help you. He loves you!”
Ephesians 2:10

Will it make a difference to a man under a bridge?
I can’t predict.

But I can predict this:
It will make a difference to a woman in a car.

Some things you can’t prepare for.
But some things you can.

ready* * *

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose: