Mile log: 628
I remember the feeling I had when I went to mission camp in high school - having an awesome week of crazy work, crazy ministry, crazy fellowship, and crazy spiritual growth, not wanting to leave, and crying when I had to say goodbye. I remember those long rides home, and how I tried to write down every detail so as not to forget, and how I prayed and wrestled with God about how much I wanted to live my life the way it was at camp... and how I thought it was impossible. There's no way life could look that incredible - I could only really call it "larger than life." But I have been hoping for it ever since... and praise God, in the past twelve years He's given me pieces and glimpses of that in many ways.
This week, Kevan and Dad brought a group of teens from my home church, Triad Christian Fellowship, in NC, for a week of ministry with us here in Fort Wayne. "The Homestead" proved to be a perfect set up for this adventure - ten guys in the Lake House, and seven ladies in the Hobbit Hole! Talk about busy! We spent every morning at the Lake House having breakfast, Bible study, cross-cultural ministry training, and lunch... with the occasional push-ups work-out and loud sing-along. The afternoons were spent out in the community serving neighbors and friends, and then at the Hobbit Hole planning and preparing for the evening youth program at I-House. Basically, the Homestead Team wanted to bring these young people from NC alongside us in ministry, to share in what we get to do, and to help us with a new phase of our vision that we needed extra hands and feet (and brains) to accomplish.
Yesterday after breakfast, as I looked around the table, I realized this is my dream come true - and I didn't even realize it was my dream until it came true this week. You see, on those long car rides home from camp in high school, I let myself dream big. Here are some of my dreaming questions, and how they have come true:
- What would it be like to have a solid group of friends and ministry partners who have a common (but so extraordinary!) love the Lord and pour their energy and creativity into putting action to their passion?
I can't thank God enough for the team he's placed me in right now in my life. He's put such unique gifts and personalities and strengths together in beautiful and messy unity, and especially this week I realized how much I need these people. So, special shout-out of gratefulness goes to our Homestead and its extended/transient dwellers: Hannah, Brie, Emilee, Bethany, Abby, Todd, Brandon, Ben, Will, and Erik. You are all gold, and I really love your guts! Thanks for showing me grace when I was stressed and cranky, for sweeping in to relieve me when I was overwhelmed, for basically "holding up my arms" throughout this week, and filling my heart with joy.
- What would it be like to settle into a place in a city where there are great needs that we can do something about and be a part of the restoration?
I am so thankful for the preparation I received from the group of youth leaders in Winston-Salem five years ago, who taught me the importance of knowing the city I live in, praying for it, and being truly present in it. Fort Wayne is becoming my home and a place my heart breaks for, and it was a delight to share it with the team from NC. Special thanks and blessings to the Zo church community - for their love for all things Jesus-centered, for letting us come a-caroling and praying, and for the summer-long supply of pop they generously gave - I continue to learn so much and be humbled by this people group. Also thanks to Miss Ruth, The Reclamation Project, International House, and Gospel Community for embracing partnership and welcoming the team into their lives and ministries all week.
- What would it be like to have a safe place to rest and study God's word and fellowship with other believers, to help them grow and encourage them in their faith?
It still amazes me that God put two houses together, back-to-back in an alley, and placed Christian guys in one and Christian girls in the other, and gave them a common love for hospitality. We could not have made that happen on our own if we had tried! As you read above, our houses have become a center for growth and training and sending - HUGE answer to prayer. The Homestead has been a blessing to me all year, and this week it was beautiful to see it operate as a training base for young believers to deepen their faith. Special thanks to those who planned and led lessons and discussions and prayer times - your wisdom, experience, and passion is so inspiring!
- What would it be like to invite young Christians into my life, to walk beside me and get a glimpse of God's kingdom here on earth... to help them put on their "spiritual glasses" so they know how to find that kingdom back home or wherever they are?
The NC team... what a stellar group! It delighted my heart to do life with them this week: prayer walk with them, ride in the car with them, eat breakfast with them, sing with them, play Mafia with them... They worked so hard and did everything we asked them to do and more. And though as a group they are a pretty quiet bunch, I loved the moments I had alone with each one, when they asked great questions or gave amazing insights. It was a blessing to see their dedication, willingness, and love throughout the week. So finally, a major shout-out to our epic crew - Bethany, Sarah, Richard, Sam, Ryan, Dad, and Kevan. Thanks for being the hands and feet of Jesus to us, the youth night crew, and to Fort Wayne this week!
This morning this beautiful crew from NC drove away... away from "The Homestead," and back to "real life" as they know it. But I hope they know that life can be larger, can be as exciting as this. I was sad to see them go, but I have hope, and look forward to seeing and hearing what greatness will happen to them because of what they experienced here. I pray that God has put his kingdom seed in them and that they will pray and serve and be grounded in his Word and keep their spiritual glasses on... that He will lead their steps to go where he calls, and enlarge the capacity of their hearts to love as he does. I pray that this is the kind of impact we have on the world here at the Homestead.