Reflections on D.C.

Praise the Lord!

What a week! Praise after praise after praise. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 wraps beauty and glory around what our middle schoolers did this week in Washington D.C: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those is any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

IMG_6798The longer I live in Indianapolis, the more I’m amazed at our church and the way the Body of Christ nurtures the faith and fun of our youth. Did you know not every church has members who take off weeks of work to participate in camps and mission trips? Did you know our kids on these trips stand far and above other groups in attitude, behavior and faith? We are a body of believers who live out Psalm 78:5-7: “He commanded…to teach their children so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they would in turn tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” I stand in awe as I’ve chaperoned this group. They would not have been able to live out their faith, the Gospel and the comfort of God, had you all not been praying, teaching, mentoring, loving and supporting them throughout their lives and this week.

As I stand before the throne amazed at what He has done and at the comfort and love He has provided to others through these 12- to 15-year-old vessels, I invite you to glimpse their experiences. Below, you’ll find short testimonies of the week the Lord gifted us in D.C.

“This week was full of different experiences. One particular ministry our serving group wentIMG_6797 to was Our Daily Bread. This was a place where people in the community, no matter who, could come enjoy a meal and a Bible study together. We got to prepare the meal and serve the people who came. We also got the pleasure of talking to the people. It was a really neat experience because once I began talking with a man that I met, I learned that he had recommitted his life to Christ because of Our Daily Bread. He also showed me his Bible, his first Bible.” —Mo Hart

“This week we encountered many new people. One person stuck out to me in a special way. I met a man named Mike at Our Daily Bread. I greeted him and served food to him, but I was too nervous to start a conversation with a stranger. Then I felt God’s presence when Mike walked up to me and showed me an article in the newspaper. We talked about the article, which led to me asking him some questions. Eventually, I learned all about his life, his kids and his walk with Christ. He even asked me questions. He asked me what job I wanted to pursue and about school. The whole 30 minutes we talked, I felt God speaking through me. The fact that I cannot physically see God has been hard for me the past couple years, but this experience opened my eyes to see God in a new way. The faith He has given me has revealed Him in a new way!” —Sydney Davis

IMG_6800“Going into D.C. at the beginning of the week was pretty nerve wracking. Traveling to an unfamiliar place and being trapped on a bus for 12 hours with a ton of other middle schoolers was not the best. I became nervous, yet hyped, to be in the Nation’s Capitol. Little did I know the following days would get harder for me, with a grumpy stomach, headache and sore throat. I kept taking medicine and praying that I would not have to go home. Day after day I repeated this process, but on Day 5 I woke up feeling perfectly fine, no sore throat, nothing! I was surprised and shown how God actually does answer prayers!  He got me through!”  —Ben Massey

“Through my D.C. mission trip, God really pressed on my heart that this trip was much bigger than me, and that God already had this trip planned out from the beginning. With stress and sweat and headaches, God showed us that He had us in His hands and was answering our prayers just so we could serve Him. We prayed for energy, and God gave it to us in the least likely of ways … kids. Simply by driving up in the parking lot, kids were trying to get into the car, trying to hug us and were just thrilled that we were there. Though we had gotten up and been serving at other places all day, God let the kids’ joy and excitement renew our strength and joy. Overall, God has held us in His hands and provided for us with His divine and well-planned trip!” —Rachel Hoffman

“Washington D.C. taught me a lot about myself, the city and the incredible people who call it home. One of the biggest and most impacting moment was when a man named Adam was sitting at a table in Charlie’s Place. He was minding his business, and I just walked by him. Then he asked me, ‘What did you do to your leg?’ Little did I know this simple question would spark a lively conversation and the start to a relationship. I could see God speaking through him, and I saw the Lord in His eyes. He emphasized staying away from those friends who tempt you. He encouraged me to focus on school and, of course, Christ. Despite his fairly heavy accent, it seemed as if God made his voice clear, and the meaning in his words stood out boldly.” —Colin Badgero

“This week we went to a daycare/VBS. It really made me have to get outside of my comfort zone. I say this because the moment we pulled in, the children were screaming happily and climbing into our van. It was a really cool experience getting close to the kids and learning some of their stories. It was hard to tolerate that quite a few kids did not have a good home life. God really opened my eyes to life outside of Indianapolis. These kids had so much joy and spirit and brightened my mood every time I entered the daycare. They helped me realize why I like serving: joy. I say joy because whenever I helped someone, it ended in joy. I feel blessed that God brought me to D.C. to show me this.”

—Kate Evans

Isn’t it so like our God to reveal more to the hearts serving than to the hearts being served? We often enter these trips expecting to be used and make a special impact on someone, yet day after day I heard from our students about how loving the way Christ loved us had more impact on them than anything else. Rather than going to change and love D.C, we returned changed and loved by our good and gracious God.

 

 

Factory Update

IMG_0201Our church has a physical address. It is a physical building. You can locate it on Google maps, see a picture of it taken from a satellite, walk through the doors, and physically touch its structure, but our church is so much more than a building. This week, our church took on a whole new look as it was transformed into the Maker Fun Factory. An average of 300 preschool and elementary age students walked through the doors each day to learn how they are each created by God and built for a purpose.

110 volunteers lead, crafted, cooked, painted, sang, danced, ran, taught, cared, and IMG_0206ministered each day to the kids. From 9am to noon, groups traveled to different stations to learn the day’s bible point and verse. The theme of the week encouraged kids to understand they were intentionally made by God and deeply loved by Him. We learned God made us, God is for us, God is always with us, God will always love us, and God made us for a reason. WOW GOD!

From week to week, our building is most often used for us to learn to love God. We hear sermons, go to bible studies, participate in youth group, and meet with different ministry groups. The week of VBS is a chance for our building to be used to love each other AND serve the world. We invite anyone in the community to come in our doors and meet God. Our congregation serves as His hands and feet.

IMG_0199Ask any of our volunteers, VBS feels like a whirlwind. The week hits you like a storm, but watching the kids experience God’s love makes it all worthwhile. The goal is to plant a seed. We don’t know if or when the seed will grow, but God calls us to plant them. Our prayer is these children will come to know a personal relationship with God. They will return year after year hungry to learn more, and they will no longer see the church as a physical building, but as a body of believers that they are an important part of.

Hola!

IMG_5477After a very smooth day of travel, the team arrived in Monterrey Mexico. Surrounded by the majestic mountains, they began training and preparing for their work in the community. It is exciting to hear God is already at work in the hearts of the team members. Even though the heat was intense, they enjoyed time together and a chance to get comfortable in their new surroundings.

It can be uncomfortable to go to a new place and minister to new people especially when there is a language barrier. During the second day, the team went door to door distributing bibles and inviting people to a local park to hear more about God. Many people were excited to receive bibles and shared stories with the team. Each member of the team saw God work in powerful ways during their outreach. IMG_5467

As the trip continues, please pray for the hearts of the people in Monterrey. May they be curious to know more about God, excited to encounter His love, and changed by the message of the Gospel.

Hello from D.C.

Highs, Lows and Buffalos!

600,000 Residents

400,000 Tourists per day

13,000 – 20,000 Homeless

$32,000 Average income

$600,000 Average housing cost

Greetings from the middle school mission trip in our nation’s capital. We have completed two days of service and a very fun Fourth of July. Our students have been cleaning pantries, cooking food, serving homeless, playing with children and being the hands and feet of Jesus around Washington, D.C., in seven different venues already.

Each day the team has shared their highs from the day. Here are a few examples:

  • “I loved talking with Mike. I didn’t even know he was homeless, he was so smart and interesting.”
  • “I loved how the children loved us the minute they saw us. It was so easy.”
  • “I really liked the nursing home and hearing all the stories one of the men told us.”
  • “I really felt that we helped out when we cleaned the pantry; the employees were so happy.”
  • “They were so joyful and inviting to us.”
  • “I talked with a woman for over an hour and she prayed for me!”
  • “I loved praying for the elderly. I have never done that.”

After sharing their highs, team members share their personal low-point of the day. Many of these moments have become the prayers of our hearts:

  • “The work was so hard, and I was really tired.”
  • “The clothing closet was so hot and uncomfortable, but what made it worse was when people had orders for clothes and there just wasn’t enough. We couldn’t help them.”
  • “I really didn’t like when this little girl cried when we left.”
  • “It was so hard when I had to give my lunch away.”
  • “I was really uncomfortable at first talking to people I didn’t know.”
  • “It was so sad to see all the mental illness.”
  • “It is sad to see how the kids treat each other.”

IMG_6795Finally, we shared “buffalos” – funny stories that don’t qualify as high or low. Make sure you find a returning middle school student and ask about their buffalos. This trip is generating many funny stories, including:

  • Cleaning a moth-infested pantry.
  • “They told me I look like Donald Trump.”
  • “A little girl peed on me!”
  • “We talked for 45 minutes, and I have no idea what he said.”

The most amazing testimony of God’s goodness here in D.C. is watching the Lord move in the hearts of our students. They are sensing the Savior’s call as He says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” They are witnessing firsthand the depravity of mankind. Their ideas and beliefs and fears are colliding with a good and gracious God. Sixth graders are having new experiences and learning about cultures in a new way, seventh graders are beginning to become leaders as they develop skills, and our eighth graders, who are preparing to enter the unknown world of high school, see glimpses of a faithful, steadfast God here.

Have you read the stories of The Great Adventure this summer? Have you prayed for our church’s trips, camps and outreaches as we extend our hands to our community and world? Have you noticed how amazing our church body is, that we embrace a summer of prayer over each of these trips? I hope you’ve taken the opportunity to be a part and don’t miss out on seeing our loving Father nurturing our youth in this way.

The middle school team looks forward to sharing more as they experience three more days of God’s goodness through difficult acts of love and conversations of His Glory.