Last week our Pastor Richard and some of the youth and adults who went on the youth mission trip to
The favorite thing I did was on the fourth and last day. During our missions time, after another morning of cleaning apartments in a nursing home, we visited a thrift shop in downtown West Philly. However, this place was not only a thrift shop. The owner was a Christian who had opened the shop specifically as a ministry. Half of the building was stacked to the ceiling with old clothes and books and furniture; the other half was a chapel and a safe place for the neighborhood kids to hang out, complete with music, a TV, video games, and a pool table. Filling his parking lot, with dirt poured out over the concrete, was a community garden. He had devoted his life to helping the children of
But not everything about his story was so happy. He told us that he’d had to bury eighteen of the children he’d taken in since he started. Drug violence is rampant in the area; the murder rate in
His story helped drive through to me something I have been thinking about for some time. In the week’s Bible story, we followed the story of Moses in Exodus. The first morning, we discussed the burning bush, Moses’ calling to rescue the Israelites from their slavery. What caught Moses’ attention and caused him to leave his comfortable life with a wife and father-in-law was something that operated not in accordance with the laws of the world, that stood radically apart from the way that everything else he knew worked. I asked myself, are we as Christians being that burning bush, so unmistakable that we cannot be ignored? Or are we burning up, or not even burning at all?
Another morning, we discussed the nature of
The final morning, we read the giving of the Ten Commandments, where God tells Moses to say to the Israelites, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” They were not to be the exclusive keepers of the Covenant, ignoring the rest of the world, but rather ministers to all of creation, helping it to see God. And now under the new covenant, have we been focused inward, on our own grooming and health? Or are we truly focused radically outward, on irreplaceable ministering to the needs of the rest of creation, so that all might come to know God?
Yeah, what she said.