|A six-person team from Knoxville spent time in Boston this summer volunteering at a Sports Camp VBS to support Christ the King/Jamaica Plain – Roxbury, a church plant partner we’ve posted about in the past. Here’s what a few of the team members experienced as they shared their hearts with Boston and worked alongside church planters Logan and Melissa Keck.
Not surprisingly, real life experiences are often the best for making God’s living and active Word come to life. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” and He replies, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (verses 26-40).
The truth Jesus shared in Matthew 22 resonates greatly with what I saw, felt, learned, and experienced in Boston. Church planters, Logan and Melissa, have incredible servant hearts, but their hearts are equally matched with a love for the gospel; delving into the Word; and meeting people where they are…while also moving them forward. Church planting is an interesting endeavor; the planters become experts on the area and on theology, but also in love. What a powerful combination.
Witnessing people coming alongside their neighbors with such intentionality was incredibly moving. The forethought in decisions and the cognizance in the mundane were both evident. Loving God and loving our neighbors is a wholly possessing commitment, not a side job. Doing this requires sacrifice. Though it’s not on an ugly, wooden cross, as church planters, the Kecks (and so many in their congregation) have sacrificed their entire lives for the gospel of Christ, that others would know Him and that He would be glorified. While not costing their physical lives, it has cost the life that they may have been envisioned and, in this truth, John 15:13 is truly being played out: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
While we all know the greatest commands, they shake your world when you see them truly lived out. My trip to Boston did that for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to witness the love of Christ moving in Boston, even if only for a few days.
Driving down the streets of Boston it feels as though history is whispering an old story to me at every corner and is etched in the red bricks of nearly every building. The city is saturated with it and I feel the profound weight of it around me. History has sat and watched the changes over the centuries. Where signs and flags once declared independence, rights, and calls for repentance now stand signs and flags asking for and offering peace and acceptance for every belief, orientation, and thought. They are hung from porch stoops and church doorways alike. It seems that the city is desperate for peace and unity. It is crying out for everything to be okay. It permeates the culture and it seems to groan with the ache of it. Boston is hungry for everything to be made right and so the message proclaimed at every turn is, “Come as your are; stay as you are.” What an incredibly empty gospel that would be!
One of the most impactful aspects of our time in Boston for me was the clarity with which I could see the true hope I have in Jesus and the urgency and need I felt for it to be shared. While we were in the city working alongside the Kecks, we visited a mosque. The woman who gave us a tour shared about her faith. She said two things that have continued to weigh on my mind. First, when I asked her what she thought of grace and what place grace had in the Islamic faith she responded after a thoughtful pause by saying, “Grace isn’t really a part of our faith. We believe that God is merciful and he shows his mercy by giving us things to go through.” Second, she said that she lives in a constant state of both fear and hope. Again, what an incredibly empty gospel that would be.
The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. People everywhere are hungry for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. They are seeking for everything to be made right, and we have the good news that through Jesus all has been made right. Let us be quick to share the hope of salvation that we have received!
A short term trip team traveled from Knoxville to Mozambique this month. Enjoy these highlights reported by team members.
We visited a local school run by Sybil, our ministry partner. We were able to take part in chapel. The students sang, “This Little Light of Mine,” with us as we learned about being a light for Jesus. We also were able to spend time with one of Sybil’s prayer warriors. What a blessing to have her pray for us in Shangaan (a local language). Later, we attended the graduation of eight Hlauleka School youth who have completed “Live School,” which is a training for church planting and leadership.
Also on the trip, we visited some of our sponsored children’s homes and held a Kingdom Kid’s Day at Sybil’s house for all of the sponsored children. Some of the activities included a slip and slide, punch balloons, face painting, a birthday party, dancing, singing, soccer, and lunch together. In addition, we spent time with the teachers from the school. It is amazing to see so much joy in one place!
Throughout the trip, it was encouraging to know we had so many praying for us. Prayers were answered!
For a past story about Sybil and Mozambique, click here.
“In Sports Ministry our mission is serving the community by offering a broad range of recreational activities for children that encourage individuals physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Sports Ministry is a unique way to reach youth and their families and share the love of Christ. This summer, CSPC is hosting several sports camps. Here’s what some of the folks involved have to say about this fun way to spend summer days.
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The last several posts, we’ve featured stories from high school students who traveled with CSPC to Chicago to learn, serve, and share the light of Christ. The students’ entries are encouraging to read and share. It’s amazing what we all can learn when we step out of our comfort zones and into new places and situations.
Emma, junior: “My group served and prepared food at the soup kitchen in Uptown Chicago. It was such a humbling experience because so many people from all kinds of backgrounds came together to eat a meal. We got the chance to wash and cut all of the vegetables and the chicken for the soup, and then serve it to the people along with drinks and pastries. It was a great reminder that God made everyone in His image and that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. This trip has been very special to me because it opened my eyes to a new perspective of the needy in our country and has given me the ability to see them through God’s eyes. Just by being able to serve 150 people dinner for one night is so special and something that I am thankful I had the opportunity to experience.”
Blythe, sophomore: “Let me begin with the fact that this trip has been phenomenal. It has been eye-opening and mind-broadening in all the right ways. I’ve loved all of it! Our group got the opportunity to experience an ‘immersion’ in the life of a homeless person. We were each given $2 for dinner and a map of directions to wander around downtown with. Our group, less focused on finding food, was able to talk to some people and get a good idea about the Chicago area. We met a man who had been homeless for a few months and I felt like I connected with him. We talked with him for a solid 30 minutes about rap artists, gentrification, and his life in Chicago. He told us that literally the day after he accepted Christ he was shot in the hip by some gang members. He chose to cling to God rather than give up and give in, and I found that inspiring. Given his current situation and all that has happened in his life around him, he says He’s stuck with God and is trusting Him to provide for him and guide him through life. Even before we got into that, I had an amazing time just talking to him person-to-person about everyday topics. It made me realize that he just wants to be seen as a person and to have normal conversations. I could sum up a lot of my trip experiences by saying not everyone wants to jump right into a sob story about their life and that it shouldn’t be expected. Not that I expected that going into this, but it was astonishing to come to this realization. We talked about normal everyday things with most people we met. If they wanted to tell us about their life along way, they did. A reoccurring theme we all noticed was that most clung to God and His guidance in their time of struggle. It was really amazing to see that we are all just people going about life, trying to get by, and getting to know our Father in the process! God has truly opened my eyes and heart to this. I had always thought of myself as an outgoing person, but I was hesitant to approach people on the streets for fear of awkward conversation. God made me see through these experiences that we can all relate regardless of what walk of life we are from because, in the end, we are all His children and we can all connect. I feel as though I am able to love people on an even deeper level after this trip!”
Isabel (Ibby), sophomore: “Immersion was supposed to provide an eye-opening experience for the struggles of homeless people living in Chicago. During this experience, we were asked to talk with people on the street and put ourselves in their shoes. By doing this, God opened my eyes to a new perspective. I realized that the people we talked to on the street were people, just like me. They were normal people who had a different situation than me. I had the experience to see and be a part of something I had never seen for myself. Immersion opened my eyes and changed my heart.”
Alex, junior: “The immersion activity really made an impact on me because this was the first time I had ever been in a ‘big city.’ It was overwhelming for me to decide where to go and who to talk to, but my group helped me with that. I have honestly wanted to talk to homeless people and hear their stories for the longest time, but never was able to. This trip gave me this opportunity to hear from these people and have real conversations with them about things going on in the real world. Not only this, but it gave me a chance to view myself from a third person perspective, meaning I was able to see what I could do to improve the city of Chicago and help these people that are homeless.”
Nathan, junior: “One night, we decided to walk to Lake Michigan to talk about our high and lows of the day. Each person shared what was great and what wasn’t that great. I really liked the immersion activity because I met lots of people. A few other people mentioned that the soup kitchen was meaningful along with the prayer trip. The prayer trip was a bus ride through the city and praying of the people of that certain area. We learned about what makes it hard for the people in certain areas and how we could help. After highs and lows, people in the group started begging to jump into Lake Michigan. After proving that there wasn’t anything saying ‘no swimming,’ only a sign that said ‘no diving’ and had a picture of a guy about to dive or do a bellyflop, our leader decided it was ok. We sprinted to the lake and jumped in. It was freezing, but was so much fun doing it with a group of people whom I have gotten to know better on this trip.”
May God richly use these Chicago experiences to continue to impact these students’ lives and all those around them. If you like this post, subscribe to blog and/or share it with a friend!