Monday, March 23, 2015

At the Heart of Ministry.

   Journal Entry, February 13, 2015: "And I am mad, so mad, because my hands and my feet have become soft and my heart has harden."
      It's been a long time since I wrote anything down. Since I processed through my thoughts by typing and writing and words on pages. And maybe I stopped because I couldn't think anymore, couldn't write anymore, or maybe it was because I was trying to soak in all these moments, all these memories, all these things I am holding deep within myself; in my heart, in my soul, These people, these places, that soon I will be leaving behind. But after this past week I have the closure I needed. I have the strength to keep pressing on. I have the belief that God has got it all taken care of.
    And eloquent words couldn't even begin to describe how I am feeling right now. I am coughing and tired and drained. And yet I've never felt better, never felt more filled, I fill Jesus all around me. and that my friends, is a beautiful thing.
    I am in a continual awe of who He is. That my life and the lives around me are truly the story of God's grace and love through ordinary people, and I saw that reflected in such a beautiful and amazing way this past week.
   Let me start off like this. I am extremely unqualified in what I do. As Colton would put it, "I feel as if I am constantly leading out of my imperfections." I am incapable of leading these high school girls and yet this is the place God has called me to, for the past two years. Did I ever anticipate, did I ever expect this? No. I thought I would be the first one to leave my hometown and never look back, and yet here I am two years after returning from Africa, knee deep in a ministry with amazing kids, that I have completely and utterly fallen in love with. And what I've seen these past few months is that these kids make this ministry. I do not.
 God doesn't need me or Builders to reach these kids, He can use any avenue He chooses, and yet he graciously chooses and calls me. He graciously chooses Cameron, and Colton, and Delaney, all us leaders to be the ones to love, to pour, to sacrifice, to laugh, to cry, to live life with these amazing high schoolers. Never did I ever think I'd be where I am sitting right now. and yet I cannot imagine my life anywhere else in this moment!
   Why am I getting all emotional and writing this post. Because I have to process this. I have to write this down, because if i don't I'm going to explode.
    God is at work!
     This past week God over and abundantly provided me and the other leaders and a small group of our kids to go do ministry in Denver. I mean God moved mountains to get us there through obstacles and struggles and prayer and tears shed, God provided the funds, the transportation, and the hearts to take this leap of faith in a new place and man were lives changed! Mine included.
    But this isn't about me at all. This about the eight amazing high schoolers that took their spring break and made it all about God. Who selflessly sacrificed a week of doing whatever they wanted to go an serve God, each other, and the people in Denver. These kids continually blow my mind.
    Throughout the week I saw these boys and girls approach complete strangers and start conversations, step out in faith in unknown areas and come out fearless, bolder, and stronger. I saw them play with and carry and chase and fall in love with a group of at risk youth, I saw them feed the hungry,  love the hurting, shine their light and constantly point back to Jesus. They poured themselves out to the point of exhaustion, then got back up and did it the next day an the next day. Never complaining, always rejoicing. Through the earlier mornings and the long evenings, and the monotonous task we sometimes had to do. I saw Jesus in each and every one of them. I saw His hands, His feet, His love. And as a leader that make my heart swell. That makes my joy complete.
   These kids may never know the impact they had on the lives they came in contact with in Denver. But seeds were planted, plants were water, and love was restored. But I want these kids to know the impact they have had in my life. The past two years they have stretched me, grew me, and caused me to ask question i didn't even know I had. They caused me to dive deeper into scripture, into worship, and into relationships with people. They have impacted my life in such a way, I can't go back. I can't imagine my life not knowing each and everyone of them.
  And I shed tears over them, because there is unknown in what is to come. We all being called to the next journey God has called us to. But if there is one thing I have learned, it is this. These kids know Jesus, these kids love Jesus. and that these kids make the ministry. I do not, and no other leader will. We can have leaders shouting from the rooftops, but if we don't have kids, who are sold out, who are bought in, who are all out radical for Jesus. then what are we even doing?
    I have found that at the heart of ministry is discipleship and at the heart of discipleship is love and at the heart of love is Jesus. And He is what we are all here for. He is the reason I do this. He is the reason I moved away then moved back again, because I was not finish. He is the reason we, as leaders, cry and pray over these kids. Because we know that they do not need us, they need Jesus. More than a Wednesday night service, more than a Sunday night small group, more than any retreat, more than a week long missions trip to wherever. They need Him and Him only.
    And my hope is that my life has been an outpouring of who He is in me and the love He has for them. I am constantly leading out of my imperfections, but it's out of those imperfections, out of my weakness, that He is strong, that He is exalted. All in love, all in grace.
    These high schoolers, they have changed my life. They have changed the way I look at things. And for that I am forever grateful. Forever grateful for the love they share, the stories they have, and the lives they live. The world, the enemy, better look out because these kids are going to do amazing things for the Kingdom. And I am so blessed and speechless beyond words that I got to be a small part of it. That for the past two years I have experienced joy and sadness with them all. And I have seen that by peeling back the layers of our images and letting others see our struggles, we allow Jesus to come in and meet us where we are at and use as we are and change us in the process. These high schoolers have showed me that each day.
   So I have seen reflected in these high schoolers lives that want to change the world  and so we have to start loving God in such a way that our entire world changes. because that is the beauty of transformational love, it doesn't just affect us, it affects those around us. And that the answer to life is still Jesus, it'll always be Jesus, it'll never stop being Jesus. Jesus is enough.
     And He has used these kids to teach me that. to teach me that His love, His grace-giving powerful love; can soften hearts, can move mountains, can open blind eyes, can restore hope in us. No matter where I go, I will carry them with me, their stories, their lives, their impact will be forever engraved upon my heart. And I'm seeing that soft hands and feet are okay as long has they are being used for Jesus, and my heart is not hardened, but being tossed from hand to hand, prodded by fingers, filling up with love, so much love from the moments in this place.

   Reflecting on my memories,

     HIS and yours,