"God is everywhere: in the mind, in the heart, in the eye, in the...what you call this? In the ear!"
There is no believing in God...we either know God, or we do not.
This is a blog about the past, the present, and the future.
A little over five years ago my life felt like it was falling apart. I was lost in the destruction of my own life, sabotaging myself for some reason I never really knew, jumping into the dark waves without life support, hoping to drown.
I was raised by Christian parents, but the Christianity I saw around me was fake smiles, people trying really hard to be good and avoid being bad, pastel colors, elevator music, boring people who were nice but not different.
In the midst of some interesting events during my self-destruction process, I came across a book called The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I found it in a Christian bookstore while looking for a book for a friend. It didn't have the cheery blues and pinks of the other books, nor did it have a picture of a smiling, too cheerful looking evangelist on the cover. I bought it.
This book changed my life. Shane Claiborne was tired of living as a middle class Bible belt kid when he read about how Jesus lived with the poor, served the poor, loved the poor. He decided that following Jesus meant doing what Jesus did, so he grabbed some friends and moved into inner city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the top three of America's murder capitals at the time. They moved into a house and started living out the book of Acts, sharing their possessions, giving to anyone as he had need, preaching the gospel through actions like babysitting neighbors' kids, uniting with the immigrants, growing their own food to feed the neighborhood, inviting in the alcoholic and the drug addict and helping him get clean.
Suddenly one Christian house turned into two and three and four, and soon the whole block was one big intentional Christian community, all living lives for Christ in the inner city. They call their community The Simple Way (www.thesimpleway.org).
Well, I never knew this type of Christianity. I never knew Christians got their hands dirty, were willing to live with and love the poor, willing to really be a neighbor and a friend to the outcast and the abandoned, the overworked and underpaid. Christians who were symbols of peace in a neighborhood of guns and gangs and racial violence. I never knew this was Jesus.
I handed my life over to Jesus two weeks after reading this book and my heart has been set on building an intentional Christian community like The Simple Way in downtown Phoenix.
As soon as I accepted Christ, I started going to downtown Phoenix with some friends to hand out water to homeless men and women during the hot summer months. After summer was over, my friends stopped going downtown, but my heart was there, so I would bake cupcakes every Saturday and take them downtown every Sunday. This ended up turning into a major operation called The Bagel Ministry. Einstein's Bagels would donate their leftover bagels to me and I would take them downtown with a group of volunteers and we would set up tents and hand out bagels with cream cheese.
After two years of going downtown every Sunday, I burned out. I was a new Christian, without roots, and I was on fire for Jesus and for loving people, but I was not grounded and didn't have a very big support group or people to help me continue the ministry. I stopped going downtown, focused instead on getting through school, then became a teacher for three years.
Now I am in India.
My passion for the downtrodden in downtown Phoenix has not waned. But the idea of an intentional Christian community was put on the backburner as life happened.
As I have been in India God has been revealing plans to me for the next few years of my life. This was not exactly what I was expecting when I came here, but what has been going through my heart and mind is blessing me, and getting me really excited for the next phase of my life. The idea of community has been burning within my heart for the last few weeks and, step by step, God is showing me the way to begin.
Through The Simple Way website, I came across an organization called Mission Year. Mission Year places 18-29 year olds in already established intentional Christian communities in inner city areas like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. They teach, guide, and mentor young adults on how to build community and live like Jesus in urban areas.
They also have a partnership with Eastern University in Philadelphia and offer discounted rates on Masters Degrees in Community Development.
The first deadline to apply to Mission Year is this November. There is a $2,000 fundraising match as a bonus for this deadline. The next deadline is March with a $1,000 bonus match. And the final application deadline is August with no bonus.
So, here's the plan unrolling before me. Please pray over it with me and feel free to let me know anything the Lord is laying on your heart about it!
Nov. 20: Return to AZ from India
Nov-Dec.: Get back into the swing of things
Jan-Feb: Head to Michigan to be with family and raise support
March-Aug: Raise support in AZ and maybe take a few months to help my friend set up a Christian community in Louisiana
Sept-July '14: Year program with Mission Year
Aug '14-?: Come back to Az, work on Master's program online for community development, and start an intentional Christian community in downtown Phoenix with a rad group of people yet to be determined
I have been praying about this plan for a few weeks and feel such a peace about each part of it that I really do feel it is from God and not simply from my own selfish desires. I know that when I delight in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart, because they are His desires that He has placed there for His own good purposes (Psalm 37:4). I have clung to the Lord in India, delighting myself only in Him, feeding off His mercy and goodness, drinking from His living water, breathing in His Presence. And I truly believe He has revealed the plans for the next few years of my life because He delights in me and wants to use little, ridiculous me to accomplish His perfect will. How silly is that? Using a crooked stick like me to draw a perfect line of His will. But God does things that seem so silly to us.
There is one thing that keeps me from applying right away to the program: my house. Since my parents left for Kenya two and a half years ago, my siblings and I have been paying the mortgage on our house, living there like roommates. The problem is that my siblings cannot pay for the house without my portion, and they have already decided they do not want a roommate because it would be someone moving in with a family, and they all thought that would be too weird. So I continue to pray about this bump in the road and ask God for guidance.
I know if He has called me, He will take care of the details. I just don't want to leave my siblings without any plan.
Please, friends, pray about this plan, for God's continuing direction of my life, for Him to continue making me small and humble, making Himself greater. And for direction on what to do with our house.
I love you.