(This post is a follow up to Bonni Mace's thoughts before she left on her first international mission trip. If you didn't read it yet, catch up here!) Well, I’m back in Maryland after a wonderful warm nine days in the Caribbean! Before I left I shared a post about the things that made me...
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”. But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship...
The weather forecast for the weekend was bleak. You know what they say about Maryland: If you don’t like the weather, wait half an hour and it’ll change. However, the forecast held steady and one thing was for sure—it was going to rain. At the start of the week people were...
(This post is a follow up to Bonni Mace's thoughts before she left on her first international mission trip. If you didn't read it yet, catch up here!)
Well, I’m back in Maryland after a wonderful warm nine days in the Caribbean! Before I left I shared a post about the things that made me nervous to go and meet our friends in another nation. This is the follow up.
Let’s jump right in.
A Foreign Language
So this one was pretty challenging but right off the bat I felt like I would be okay. At our first Sunday service in Consuelo, we were given in-ear translation devices and our guide, Tom, translated every word of the service for us. Soon after the service we met our next translator, Dioleica, who would hang out with us all week. A few days later we met Yissel who also translated. Between all these brilliant minds and broken Spanish I did alright communicating, but that’s not the best part. Many of you who know me know that I am terrible with names! I forget them almost immediately. While we were in the DR God graced me with something my mind never does which was remembering the names of each person I met and worked with. Even though I couldn’t say much I learned how to say “Great job!” in Spanish. I could tack on the name to the end of my one phrase and say enough. God transcends language friends!
Different Food and Water
This one I can straight up thank each of you who read my post and prayed for me while I was gone. Not once did I encounter indigestion and I didn’t accidentally drink the water (even though I had to throw away a toothbrush). God graced me with a clear mind and settled stomach for the entire trip. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was because of prayer! Thank you!
Fun fact: I was right about everyone on our trip, they were all awesome. In Consuelo I got to room with the one-and-only Patrice Lyle. She sang me to sleep every night. Ok, just kidding, she didn’t do that but she was still an amazing roommate and in her many bags she had everything I didn’t have. Even better, she shared with me.
Once we got to Santo Domingo, my roommates doubled and Patrice and I were joined by Vicki DeLair and Adrienne Castle. Though I had to scale the ladder of the world’s tallest bunkbed that swayed like a rocking horse, my roommates and I never tripped over one another in the bathroom nor fought over anything so that was cool. Our cozy nest of night owls was a harmonious place full of fun connections, laughter and crazy morning hair.
Being Away From My Family
My husband and I are so lucky to have parents who want to be involved in our son’s life. So while I was gone my mother-in-law came up from Texas to spend time with Marc and Caleb. While she was there I don’t think they even realized I was gone. Thanks to FaceTime and busy days, the time went quickly. While we all did miss one another, but I know it's an experience I was meant to have. Before I left my goofy toddler was holding out on saying “Momma” because he thought it was a funny joke when I begged him to say it. Well now he's saying “mom" all the time, so I will take that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing this time.
This can only be described as God’s timing, but it’s kind of a long story so bear with me.
Our first partner church, IBCC, already had plans to repaint classrooms so I was pretty comfortable with that project. Once we got started I learned that they also wanted murals which was intimidating, but it was for little kids so I thought my sketchy painting skills could handle that well enough. Once the mural day got started, we immediately hatched a plan to have lettering extraordinaire, Bekah Twardowski, start the school’s theme verse. I was going to try to figure out what my limited drawing skills could handle when Kim Roane piped up, “Oh I love painting, I have an Art degree from MICA!” AWESOME! Thanks to Bekah's and Kim’s structure work and vision and our other team members’ ability to paint by numbers, we had two beautiful classrooms as the project wrapped.
While I wasn’t too intimidated by IBCC’s projects, I knew ICC’s project would really be a challenge. You see, they were getting ready to demo this huge building where they plan to expand their Montessori school. They were selling a generator to finalize the funding to get started on the demo portion of the project We were showing up right on time to support them in this work. Until God said, “Not yet.”
We arrived and ICC had just learned that their buyer was trying to scam them and by God’s grace they were able to end the transaction before losing everything. But the ICC staff was discouraged, we were there to help them with this exciting new adventure and now we couldn’t. So the ICC staff purchased some paint and lumber. They then asked us to help them to build beds and refresh paint. When they learned we had three artists on our team, the ICC teachers almost lost their minds when we told them we could paint a focal wall in their school’s outdoor play space. They immediately pulled up Pinterest to show Kim their dream. Kim, Bekah, and the team were able to pull off a gorgeous tree mural for the kids to enjoy outside each day.
School leaders, Ruth and Claudinet, came out as we were finishing up and pulled out their phones to take pictures through their happy tears. When it was all said and done we had painted their outdoor area, 6 wooden locker-style shelves and a new bedroom for their homeless ministry. The carpentry team had also built 4 beds. Our team was also able to help serve lunch to nearly 60 homeless friends of ICC each day.
The Best Part Of All
I knew God was going to be up to cool things on this trip. I could sense it, which helped me overcome all of my fears about going. The most amazing part of the trip wasn’t the work we got to do, instead it was getting to hear stories of lives forever changed by Christ.
We heard stories from our Dominican brothers and sisters and we heard the stories from our Severn Run brothers and sisters. And let me tell you, our God is the same grace-filled, redemption-maker God in every country. It was amazing to see each Christ-follower embrace God’s role in changing their own lives and then God’s role through them to be the change agent in another’s life. One thing I learned from all of this story sharing is how to say “That’s how I helped bring a little Kingdom here to Earth now.” That’s how I was the hands and feet of God!
Severn Run, you are all living a beautiful God-story! God is using you to bring a bit of His Kingdom to Earth now as you follow him. Even if you feel like you’re just receiving, you are revealing. Let me explain…
At ICC, they have a medical ministry where they bring in teams of doctors from Chicago to perform minor surgeries for the homeless population that they would otherwise never get. Pastor Rafael introduced us to a man who’s leg used to be crooked and now, thanks to the team of doctors, it’s straight again. Our friend with the healed leg stood up, showed off his straight-as-an-arrow leg and gave God the glory! When he did that, he revealed Kingdom to me.
We don’t have to be some dramatic savior to reveal Jesus, friends. We just need to walk in step with Jesus daily and notice when He uses us. Sometimes He will use us by allowing us to serve, sometimes He will use us in allowing us to receive. What matters most is that we notice what He’s up to in our lives and that we tell the story of God’s amazing glory in and through our lives any chance we get!
Want to start telling your God Story? Submit it here and we will help you put it on paper!
Finally, be sure to save the date for Sunday, May 20. We are going to be practicing this idea of celebrating our God stories during each service. It’s an event we are calling “Story Sunday” and we want you to be there!
Ask anyone you meet at work or on the street, “What or who do we worship?” and the answers most certainly would be varied. Severn Run attendees would mostly say “God”.
But if you continued to look beyond the church walls, and observe what or who people worship you’d see a much more broad scope of practices. Many of which we may not even realize how much we worship them. You’d see Hollywood, royalty, the rich and famous, money, possessions, good looks, food, children, and maybe even spouses. You would most certainly see self.
And if you ask the same Severn Runners is service worship? With a head nod they would likely say “Yes”! Then ask how is it that so? You might then get that “deer in the headlights” look.
Why would that be? Maybe because service seems on the outside to be about the receiver. He/She who is served is the receiver, right? They do of course benefit, yet we must ask is there more or is that it? Fortunately, there is more, much more.
William J. Stewart noted on the “Looking unto Jesus” website, “Every aspect of a Christian’s life is to be service to God, but not all service is worship. However, let us also be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord’s people per week. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord privately. (Matthew 6:6)” (1)
If we are wanting to worship God, just how do we do that through service? To understand the tie between service and worship, we must first understand how worship is defined in the Bible.
In John 4:24 Jesus lays it out for us this way, “God is spirit. And his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” So then, is all service worship? Yes, no, or maybe as some would argue the following points:
- If the service is rendered to God it is worship.
- With the right heart, all service in all situations is worship.
- If the service isn’t sinful, it is worship.
- Service is worship if it follows the Bible’s definition of worship.
All these points have various compelling arguments but the final option seems to be supported in knowing we are then following the teaching of God’s word.
After Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with food. He suggested Jesus test the angels who were to protect him. He offered Jesus dominion over the kingdoms of the world. After all this, Jesus had enough and Matthew 4:10 tells us how Jesus finally responded to Satan, “Get out of here, Satan.” Jesus told him. “For the scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
What does this mean for us today? Jesus is clearly saying that we are to serve God only. We therefore must be careful our service is not tied to things of this world such as status, self-sacrifice, admiration of others, personal recognition or anything else we might potentially worship. These things and more can seep into our service lives.
Although worship and service are closely related, they are not the same thing. As noted on the “Trusting God America” website, if they were the same there would be no reason for Jesus to address them separately.
There are at least three things to consider for service to be an act of worship:
- Proper Attitude with Correct Authority: Our mindset and perspective need to be God focused and in the Spirit for our service to be worshipful. (John 4:23-24)
- Intentional: Worship, thus service, is to support Biblical worship and have specific action that we intent to be worship.
- Truth Regulated: To worship in truth is the approved action for service. Our service must support truth which is found only in God’s word. (John 17:17)
In summary we serve to worship God and this service is an outcome of our love for God and others.
According to one blog on worship versus service, “The Divine ideal is that our worship of the Lord will inspire us to serve, and that our service for Him will flow naturally from worship.” (2) Another wrote, “We find that worship is outwardly manifested by service.” (3)
When out of worship of God, we can then chose to serve God by taking action:
- Go to Severnrunner.info
- Click on “Be the Difference”
- Complete the Level 1, 2, & 3 challenges
- Get your stickers
- Fill your card
Get started or take the next step today!
(1) http://lookinguntojesus.net/a-difference-between-service-and-worship/ by William J. Stewart
The weather forecast for the weekend was bleak. You know what they say about Maryland: If you don’t like the weather, wait half an hour and it’ll change. However, the forecast held steady and one thing was for sure—it was going to rain.
At the start of the week people were beginning to question whether or not Spring Into Serving was still going to happen. Some of our partner ministries even indicated that we should reschedule. Amber sent out Contingency Plans A, B, and C.
BUT, we are Severn Runners!
We knew God had great things in store for our partner ministries and we would not be hindered by a raincloud or two (or lots).
"Jesus led broken people on the road so that they would bump into other broken people in order to reveal His kingdom."
Spring Into Serving Projects:
Broken Wall – Fight Club and Going Deep cleared an existing but unusable baseball backstop of brush and vines at North Bend Elementary School in Catonsville, Maryland.
Grace Redeemer Church – Families with Young Children and Odenton Connects hosted a block party for 100-150 folks from the church and surrounding neighborhood in Meade Village. There was food, face painting, moon bounce, and TONS of fun!
Pascal Senior Center – Hearts and Minds and Young Married Professionals (YMP) cleaned and manicured the garden at the Center in Odenton. The director of Center actually emailed Bob Ogle, the project leader, and told him not to worry about bringing a group out, but the team went anyway. The director was pleasantly surprised when she saw all the work that had been done when she arrived at work on Monday morning.
Elevate Church – The Real World went to the pastor’s house in Annapolis and helped him fix the steps leading to his patio. They also picked up trash in the community and cleaned up a playground.
Transformation Center – Seeking Our So That went to Brooklyn Park to sort clothes for the Clothing Closet and did a neighborhood clean up.
The Well – Moms of Severn Run helped clean out/sort/organize their clothing closet (Hope Chest). A combination of clothes from the Severn Run Clothing Swap and Hope Chest allowed them to host a Free Community Clothing Market. Pizza and hot dogs were served to over 125 shoppers. Leftover clothing items were taken to Transformation Center. In addition, the husbands of the “Moms” helped the building manager to lay sand and pavers to create a back patio area.
Amber Adams, the Connect Leader for Severn Run says, “Jesus led broken people on the road so that they would bump into other broken people in order to reveal His kingdom. Our Connect Groups and IMPACT ministry connected with other local ministries to build relationships and serve with our brothers and sisters. We sent 143 Severn Runners to six different locations from Annapolis to Baltimore where they served with over 200 other believers and non-believers. From a Free Clothing Market to Block Parties to Gardening we saw a glimpse of what it means to be the Church.”
Follow this link to view a slideshow of photos taken at all the Spring Into Serving projects!