Friday, May 20, 2016

When God is Working, Sometimes Things Just Show up

When you approved the last budget, you gave the pastoral team $3,000 to use for ministry opportunities that had not been foreseen in our budgeting process. This fund allows us to be more nimble, and to respond to what we see God doing in our community. Because most often when God is working we don’t get a ministry plan or a budget request--sometimes invitations just show up.

Occasionally I meet people who just seem to be right where God wants them, being exactly who God created them to be and doing precisely what God called them to do. When I meet people like that I just want to help them, to support them, to be a part of what they’re doing. Kim is just such a person. When God is working, sometimes people just show up.

I met Kim through Heidi Hopkins. She invited Marta and me to come and meet Kim and hear what she is doing at Chehalem Valley Middle School. It turns out that Marta already knew Kim.

Kim is heading up the leadership program at Chehalem Valley Middle School. The program is not new; Kim is a product of that leadership program herself. Her eyes glowed as she recounted the impact the program and the summer leadership camp associated with it had on her formation. I could see that she grieved as she described how the program had atrophied in the past few years. I also saw how her passion rose as she outlined her hopes and dreams for the program.

Kim has already made a difference. Like most schools around our country, many kids attending CVMS experience things like racism and bullying every day. Kim has taught her kids how to intervene without escalating the situation. They have become the ones who stand up for those who have nobody to stand up for them. As Kim puts it, she wants her leaders to “be the servant, to be the kind kids in school.” Her young leaders are buying in to it.
Under Kim’s leadership the program has become diverse not only racially but economically as well. This means that while these new leadership kids are bright, enthusiastic and capable, many of their families don’t have the means to provide them all the resources they need—such as the summer leadership camp--to develop their full potential.

But Kim is uniquely qualified to be a teacher and an advocate for these students. Besides her history with the program as a student, she has walked through many hardships, heartbreaks and other life experiences that have given her a heart for the students she has been given. So she is not afraid to go out and find the support her leaders need. Sometimes when God is preparing a person for a particular calling, life just shows up.

When Marta and I heard Kim’s story and her hopes and dreams for these kids, we decided that this is what the $3,000 had been prepared for. In 2nd Street’s early years, it was deeply invested in recovery ministries, but I am suspecting that God is giving us an opportunity to invest in the other end of that process. If we invest in these kids now, we are helping prepare residents of the Newberg of 10 years from now who bring solutions rather than problems. After all, when God is working, redemption just shows up.

I believe it is important that we don’t get in the habit of just throwing money at opportunities. If something is significant enough for us to invest our finances, it is vital that we invest our hearts and hands as well. It seems to make sense that when God is working, more than just money ought to show up.

When I ask Kim if there would be ways 2nd Streeters could support and partner with her students as they try to bring about positive changes at CVMS, she was at first surprised by the question, then overwhelmed, and then enthused by the possibility of a church that actually cared about her kids and were willing to be partners in what they were trying to accomplish.

Because of 2nd Street, about a dozen kids, who had no chance before, will be going to leadership camp at Western Oregon University. Early next fall, a group of them will come to one of our Sunday morning services, tell us what they learned at the camp, share with us their dreams of the kind of place they’d like to see CVMS become, and suggest ways we can partner with them as they work to make these hopes and dreams a reality.

I’m excited about this chance to partner with a group of young leaders as they try to make their school a better place. I’m excited about what this could mean for our community in the future, and I’m excited that God is bringing this about here and now. After all, when the right passion, right invitation, the right people and the right support are brought together it shows that God is just aching to show up—and that is precisely the place I want to be.


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