My service with Sowing Seeds of Hope for the summer officially
starts Tuesday! I just got back to Judson from Student. Go’s mission
orientation…which you will hear much more about later, but for the moment I
can’t help but think about how all of this began. What brings about a desire to
stay in Marion, Alabama for an entire summer?
Go back with me to the winter of 2008. During Christmas break,
I went along with some other Judson girls to New Orleans. We were joining a
team called “NOAH” to help repair and rebuild homes and churches destroyed my
hurricane Katrina. I’d never done any type of mission work before then, and I
certainly hadn’t gone on a “mission trip.” But for whatever reason, I had the
strongest desire to go spend a week in New Orleans with this group. And since
my dad worked construction from the time I was a little girl until I was about
eighteen, I knew more about the business of fixing things than any young woman
should…and I felt like I could be pretty useful on the trip.
My first few days “on the job” was spent in a nice
neighborhood that didn’t seem to be too affected by the storm. We worked on an
elderly woman’s home who didn’t have the money to hire construction workers
because she had used all of her resources to rebuild the school she ran for
autistic children (a testimony in itself, no doubt)!
widow and I had a few good conversations about her students; even then I
secretly wanted to teach. She told me of how Katrina took a toll on New
Orleans’ kids, in general, but especially those stricken with poverty.
embarrassed to say that, until this point, this word was not even in my
vocabulary. Poverty was a problem in big inner cities and foreign countries.
was not a part of my world, and it was not my concern. Poverty was not in this
nice little neighborhood or a part of this nice old teacher’s life…right?
the last few days of the mission trip, my team was sent to a completely
different type of neighborhood, to say the very least.
were no white picket fences or window boxes full of flowers.
didn’t ride their shiny new bikes down paths in the park. If they even owned
bikes, they had to maneuver around piles of trash and ruins from the storm.
People sat in the streets…just because they didn’t know what else to do, and
there was a FEMA trailer in front of every single ruined house on the street.
neighborhood reeked with the smell of despair.
able to do the final work on a house before the family could move out of the
FEMA trailer and back into their home. We all cried tears of joy together on
our last day, and the impact we had on the family’s quality of life was highly
evident. The team as a whole naturally felt a great burden in leaving the rest
of neighborhood in such disarray without be able to serve the other families as
we had this one, but our time was up.
our tools, said our goodbyes, and loaded the van.
We took a
slightly different route back to the church we’d been housed in for the week
that day, and to this day I wonder if our team leader did this intentionally.
Either way, it must have been a God thing. Instead of heading back out on the
main road and hitting the interstate, we drove through the streets parallel to
the one we’d been working on. As we looked for a different ramp onto the
interstate we drove past a beautiful new church building that stood on the
corner like a beacon of hope in a dark community.
think I have ever been so angry.
now that it was not my place to pass judgment on this building or the people it
represented, but I was infuriated.
these “Christians,” I thought let their world look this way? This church was
literally a block away from the home we worked on and surrounded by a perfect
picture of poverty, despair, need, and hopelessness.
the Body of Christ, and why was it not reaching out to these people and this
neighborhood just around the corner?
my first experience in going beyond my own culture. There were not language
barriers, and I didn’t need a passport to get there…but this place was not one
that I would ever call my own. I traveled to a culture outside of the
comfortable middle class life I’d always been accustomed to, and I saw real
need for the first time.
did I know that this “beyond” was just the beginning.