Monday, April 22, 2013

urban mission trip revisited

Two months out and I'm finally ready to recap my urban mission trip experience. :) Speaking about the experience at church on Sunday gave me the push to put pen to paper and capture the thoughts swirling 'round my brain since experiencing our city in a whole new way.

Since it's been so long, here's the recap, though if you really want a refresher here's the link to the series I did preceding the trip.
  • I've wanted to go on a mission trip ever since my parents began leading teams down to the Dominican Republic   
  • The trip was three days - Friday evening to Sunday afternoon
  • It was in the city next to ours which equaled 15 minutes from home
  • It was $150
  • It was clear there was no reason to not go
  • To prepare for the trip, we were required to attend an urban poverty seminar where we learned about the differing perspectives between the lower and middle classes and the daily challenges faced by the urban poor  
our bunks

Here's what I did...

Friday: After choosing our bunks at the mission house, we ate dinner and play games with teen girls who were refugees from Liberia followed by a discussion about the future of urban missions

Saturday: Work day. There were several projects available. I had the opportunity to bake with and read to children in the city's worst neighborhood and learn how that ministry was lifting up the community in so many ways. That afternoon I helped sort clothes for a homeless ministry - a ministry that began with bringing spaghetti to homeless people in the downtown area. After dinner, we learned more about refugees, immigrants, student visas and the "undocumented and discussed the challenges generally faced by any non-English speaking person trying to integrate into American life.

Sunday: We worshiped at an urban church, had lunch and then learned about an Arabic ministry out of the nonprofit which partnered with the church for the mission trip.

baking cupcakes for the kids to take home to their mothers

Throughout the trip, we worshiped, prayed and sought God's heart for the city. It was a whirlwind of a trip and I would have loved to spend a much longer time working among the poor and foreigners among us. And perhaps some day I will.

But for now, while motherhood is my full time ministry, I'm asking God to continue pressing upon me the lessons He's been teaching me for months now and used the urban mission trip to solidify. And it's this:

I used to content myself with giving money or my stuff and thinking that satisfied God's call to help those in need.

But it doesn't go far enough.

clothes stacked and sorted for the homeless ministry

Yes, it will feed the hungry and clothe the naked - for a while. But it doesn't address why they were hungry or naked to begin with. And it does nothing for me either.

Because I believe that God asks us to minister to the "least of these" not just to meet their needs, but to meet our needs to. I believe He loves us so much He wants to see us changed for the better spiritually as much as He desires circumstances of the poor  improved physically.

I have witnessed this change in myself and I've seen God's glory in new ways and the good news of the Gospel has become that much clearer.

And here's the interesting thing and something I learned in the urban poverty seminar: relationships - the giving of our selves - are the very thing the poor value most.

Relationships are the currency of the poor.

So all of us have this amazing opportunity in our own backyards. Not only can we feed the hungry and clothe the poor, but we can build relationships with them. And when we do this "extra-mile" giving, our lives can become as transformed as the ones we serve.

If you feel the tug on your heart to explore urban ministry opportunities and are not sure where to begin, leave a comment with your email and I'd be happy to help you find resources to get you started.

Monday, April 1, 2013


So I know I still haven't posted on what happened on the mission trip. And I will get to it...soon. I think I'm still processing through how it is impacting my life. It's really easy to be all fired up and raring to go coming off a mission trip. But I'm learning that the deeper, God-impacted ways often take a little longer to settle in and take on definition. And I want to share about those lasting imprints and not just the superficial ones. So I wait a little longer...

And the things that have been on my heart often these days revolve around urban ministry, relationship building, learning about the hurts of this world, giving the religious spirit in my life the boot, pressing into my calling as a mother, praying for financial peace and desiring joyful, Christ-contagious living.

Because I'm a reader, I find myself seeking out reading material to give greater definition to my rattled thoughts and to hear God speaking in new ways.

If you're reading this, I'm assuming you too enjoy a good read, so here are some of the books I've consumed lately to accompany these themes:

Urban ministry & relationship building: How to Hug a Smelly Guy by Jeff Johnson

Learning about the hurts of this world: In Land of the Blue Burqas by Kate McCord and God Grew Tired of Us (we watched the movie last night )

Giving the religious spirit in my life the book: God Without Religion by Andrew Farley

Pressing into my calling as a mother:  Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma - I haven't started this one yet. I just learned about it today as Amy is hosting a book club starting April 18. But it fits with this growing theme for me.

Praying for financial peace: Total Money Makeover & Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey - which ironically also brought on anxiety but I'm trusting God to show us the way as let some of these money lessons settle on our hearts

Desiring joyful, Christ-centered living: There's only One source for that - the Bible. So I'm grateful for the BSF study on Genesis and John MacArthur's study on Acts that I'm doing with our Life Group.  

Any other recommended reads for these categories? How has God been speaking to you lately?