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Breaking Boxes and Giving Love

The Discipleship Training School (DTS) for REACH culminated this past Friday with a service of commissioning for the eight teams that leave for outreach next week. The past three months have been a time of molding and growth for many of the REACHers and here are some thoughts on that from Micah and Lauren from team Eurasia:

Breaking Boxes

If there’s something I’ve learned during the past few months it’s that God isn’t completely formulaic nor systematic. This means I will forever remain unable to figure him out. Since nothing God creates is 100% formulaic I will always need God to change my paradigm (which one of my past professors has dubbed “Box Breaking”). This Box Breaking happened recently while I was sitting at church.

I grew up in a smallish church of approximately 50-80 people. We didn’t venture down the road of percussive instruments and stuck to our well-loved hymns and the occasional contemporary worship song (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). This being my base mind frame for how church should be done, I grew suspicious whenever a church did it differently.

“I can promise it won’t feel too good, but a deeper understanding of God is worth Box Breaking.”But God, being God, didn’t allow my perception of the church to be so small (unintentional pun). Our team is now attending a church that has an occupancy of over 500 people, a full-fledged band with drums, guitars, etc., as well as about four different campuses all over Columbus. Needless to say I found it hard to engage the first few times of attending church there. But as time progresses I’ve found myself increasingly impressed with the mission of this church to seek those who are lost and share Christ, as well as having the various congregations based in small discipleship-type groups. The sermons I’ve heard have also been mostly on point biblically (based on a grand total of a year and a half of bible education so I mean this to come across with humility).

I was thinking about all this while listening to the sermon and suddenly realized I had made an idealized version of church in my mind and had been judging this church against somewhat faulty logic. To put it simply, God broke my box around the church. I put something that God made into a box and accidently made a strict formula concerning non-important issues that a real church had to follow.

What boxes have you created? Is it a box around prayer, church, the gifts of the Spirit, or something else? I encourage you to prayerfully ponder what boxes need to be broken in your life. I can promise it won’t feel too good, but a deeper understanding of God is worth Box Breaking.

— Micah

Giving Love

Here we are with our training officially at its end. I feel a nervous excitement for what is ahead and can't wait to put into practice everything we have learned these past three months. But at the same time I know that leaving will not be easy.

During Tuesday's outreach at the Dream Center, I was able to see a friend that had been coming to the center for a while. I noticed that he was acting differently than usual. So, when I had the chance, I pulled him aside to catch up. As we started talking it was evident that life, in that very moment, had brought him to the end of his rope. While I listened to his story he broke down and stated something I will never forget: We (the people at the Dream Center) were the only ones that cared about him and his situation.

“...one of the best ways to show God's love to people is simply sitting down and talking to them.”Working at the Dream Center, has taught me that one of the best ways to show God's love to people is simply sitting down and talking to them. Many well-meaning people invest in ministries without the most important step: love. We tend to be quick to give money, but not our time and our willingness to care for others. All of the people at the Dream Center have some sort of struggle that brought them to the place they are now. Many are homeless, they smell bad, and act that way too. There are those with disabilities that struggle just to keep or find a job, and there are always those few drunk people. But there are also those who, despite their struggles, are reaching out for God and wanting to better their lives. As believers we are called to live alongside people, sharing in their successes and struggles while displaying the love of Christ. One of my friends struggled to get a job for months because of a mental disability, and I still remember the joy on his face when he told me he got a job and showed off his uniform. God had answered our prayers right before our eyes.

It is hard to leave my friends at the Dream Center and those who I have bonded with during training. However, whether they are people living on the streets of Columbus or people following God's call overseas, God has shown me that he has placed people in my life, or me in the life of others, and he will continue to protect and provide those I must part from.

— Lauren

Pray for this team and the others as they enter a new culture. Pray that they would allow God to continue breaking their boxes so that they can better love and serve the people they meet there. Click here to read other updates from the Team Eurasia blog.