the past few weeks, everyone has been working on cleanup. I promised, the first warm day we had, I would tackle the rest of the yard. It was the thick carpet of little branches that was the most frustrating part.
But we got it done!
We have had a some wonderful helpful disaster relief groups come in to town, and our church has partnered with them. The same day we worked outside, a group from Global Compassion Network and Valley Disaster Relief were across the street, cutting down trees in the above pictures.
These pictures were from immediately after the ice storm. On Sunday morning, our church split up into work teams instead of having a worship service. I was so proud to be part of a body who values BEING the Church, not just doing church.
While visiting with one of the members volunteer groups, I found out he has two daughters who, with their families, are AIM missionaries! Over lunch, I checked out their blogs and saw their stories. As usual, my heart was touched, and I started to cry. Anybody who knows me knows how much I want to be a missionary. Preferably internationally. And, for some reason, preferably to Africa. But does that measure or define my burden for the lost, my commitment to Christ, my love for God? What if, for some reason, I never get there; what if I end up staying here and being a "regular" SAHM? Can I still change the world?
I have been thinking alot about evangelism and the role that it should play in the life of a Christ-follower. What is evangelism? I dont claim to be an expert on these things, I've never gone to seminary. But i can tell you, in my own life, I can memorize all the outlines, the acronyms, the right phrases, the questions, even the verses. But it wont do me a bit of good in "reaching the world" if i cant reach over to open the door when my neighbor comes knocking. Or reach over to open the door to let myself out of my own house and walk myself over to my neighbors house.
It isnt about being a missionary to Africa. That will hopefully be my life, but even if I stayed in this house right here: one on side, I have a young single mother with three kids, who immigrated from Ethiopia. She works long hours at a meat packing plant, and her 5 yr old son seems to want to live at my house; behind me I have a group home for physically/mentally challenged adults. The staff member I met has worked there 10 yrs, and said I am the first person who has ever spoken to her, she thinks because people are scared of the residents, of their different-ness. On my other side I have an elderly woman who is sad and lonely, in her words "lousy", since the recent death of her husband. People all around us need Jesus. They need love. Acceptance. Freedom. Hope. Friendship. How is it that I can have time for Bible studies, Sunday School, life group, (yes, at times I have participated in each one of these seemingly redundant activities, all at the same time), time for socials and even for evangelism classes and service projects, but not necessarily time to get to know my neighbors, to know them enough that i hear their stories and share mine with them? I know our culture is not at all conducive to this type of intimacy. That makes it more difficult. But i still think its possible.
I want to love people. Not the idea of people, not just the millions of unreached around the world, or those poor souls in fill-in-the-blank. But the everyday people right here, the people who take time, whose lives may be messy, who will inconvenience me and my routine. The people who Jesus loves. And that is the reason He put me right here; so I could love them, and offer up not just my nifty little evangelism tract, but offer a seat in my van, a plate at my dinner table, time spent listening, and offering up myself, just like He did. So that somehow, by some miracle, they could see a little bit of Him through me. and then know Him like i know Him. That, I have decided, is what evangelism means for me.
(not to say that you wont see me on the side of the road in a John 3:16 sandwich board one day, you never know ;-)