As our vans pulled-out from the Wherry Housing Community last Saturday morning I glanced around at the sleepy neighborhood and looked back through the mirror at a bus-load of tired teenagers. It had been- by any standard of measure- a good week.
The mission trip was over- but its impact remained. Marks were left all over the place. There had been buildings painted, floors tiled, and undergrowth removed. We had left our "ebenezer," a remembrance, on the wall of the assembly area. More importantly, marks had been left on the lives of children who gave and received love in equal amounts. They tell us they look forward to the annual visit by their friends from Towne View- I hope they remember the Jesus we shared.
As I looked back into the van, I thought about some other, longer lasting marks. Mission is a two-way street. Wherry had left its mark on our lives- youth and adults- in indelible ways. Youth discovered a taste for the joy of giving themselves for others- and they liked it! They experienced the gift of unconditional love. Through the week they encountered God in quiet places and joyful worship. They shared life in a community faith and found strength for the journey. After all the paint is scrubbed-off and the splinters healed, even after walls and buildings inevitably collapse, the Wherry mission experience will have left its mark on these lives. Self-giving, sacrificial, welcoming, joyful... all good adjectives for the body of Christ!
**This type of experience isn't possible without the investment of time, energy, and resources from a missional church family. We appreciate the financial support and food donations from the church family. I'm grateful for the love of youth shared by Tony and Clemmie Paez, Caroline Jansen, and Faith and Jerry Jansen. As always, the skills and heart of Chris and Katie inspire us, young and old.
To find out more about the work of Community Servants in Smyrna TN you can visit their website communityservants.org. I encourage your prayers for John Key, Ashley Fricks, and the interns that are investing their lives in this exciting ministry.