Reinventing Our Mission
I attend and serve in a small rural Alliance church in Iowa. While our town looks very much like it was an inspiration for one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings, looks are deceiving. Drugs run rampant in our little town. Brokenness and trauma mark nearly every family and person in this town of 5,500 people.
Our church sits across the street from a trailer court. It’s not one of the nice trailer courts. There’s a meth lab in there, persons from the sex offender list live in there, and children live in there. Our church has prayed for and reached out to that trailer court for as long as I can remember. Recently we’ve seen an influx of kids from the court coming over to the church. They’re attending the after-school program we started in January and I have the privilege of directing. They are messy and loud and hard to control, and they are welcome.
In the last 2 weeks, out of the 25 kids who attend our program, one 4th grader tried to commit suicide, one 6thgrader melted down because his dad is in the hospital dying because he can’t stop drinking, and one 5th grader is in therapy because his mom thinks he’s autistic. In our program, we have two foster children who are not related. Their behavior varies from moment to moment. At least seven of our kids are hoarding food, because they are not fed regularly (we give them as much food as they want, and I even sneak it into their backpacks). Bullying happens, attitudes happen, and every child needs help learning. When we started the program, we wanted kids to learn. Three months in we’re throwing that goal out. First and foremost, we want every child who walks into the doors of our church to know they are safe, that they are loved by us, and they are loved by Jesus. If they learn a little as well, that is the icing on top.
Often in a ministry or mission setting, we set goals that look good on paper but may not actually be as important in reality. Our world today is broken and hurting. It seems to me, it would serve us better to turn to the broken and hurting and hear what they need, instead of trying to tell them what they need. It might completely change what you’re doing, and it might be exactly what you need to be doing. May our lives be marked by the moments we quieted down so we could hear from the Holy Spirit.
~ Melissa MacDonald