Where do I even begin…
I’m going to do my best to explain the whole thing, I might not get it all in the right order, and I might not begin to do it justice; but as in all things, I’ll try my
The concept of the Rescue (Me)ssion exploded into my head back in September, and I mean the entire concept. It wasn’t just the beginning of an idea, it was the whole.darn.thing. locations, activities, logo, dates, meal planning… everything.
-Know this: I’m not smart enough to devise most of -or any of- that on my own-
I had returned from a mission trip to Albany, GA with 45 middle school students a few weeks prior, and had been elbow deep in some of K.P. Yohannan’s books when all this hit me and it was decided -for me- that the mission trip I was going to be putting together would not be about working or service projects. We were going to share our testimonies and the Gospel at every turn… and that was it.
To be truthful; I really didn’t know what I was getting into… and I’m thankful for that. Had I understood the battle(s) that I would face, I most likely would have dropped everything and just gone with the flow and kept up with the status quo; content to do things as they’d always been done.
One of the adult volunteers on the trip told me something last week, when I had mentioned to him some of what I had gone through, and how the last 10 months had all been an express train leading up to this trip.. he said “You can’t see the road that God is paving for you when you’re out front chopping down trees.” The entire time leading up to this trip I was led to preach on certain things and stress to my youth the importance of their testimonies. I was led to start shaping the youth and young adult programs according to God’s presence in their lives… not their lives in God’s presence. I’m not even sure I know what that means, but I know it looks like TRUE confidence. Not the confidence given to you by compliments or accolades heaped upon you by PEOPLE, but the REAL confidence that comes from the knowledge that God IS and ALWAYS HAS been with you. Truly, confidence does not happen by coincidence.
But I digress; we brought 18 people on this, the initial Rescue (Me)ssion trip.. and they were the 18 that needed to be there. Some dropped out and some were added along the way, but it ended up being the perfect mix of people. Some who went had some serious concerns about the trip before we left.. and I’ll admit, I was one of them.
I didn’t know how it all would go… I didn’t know what, exactly, would happen. And that tortured me.. you see, I’m kind of a control freak and I like to have everything panned down to the minute. I was corrected, however, the first day of the trip. I had planned an entire day with the Albany Rescue Mission, and part of that was to help them out in their thrift store. The delivery truck broke down and I had an empty afternoon now on the books. [insert massive internal seizing here] I had to make the decision, right then, to give the entire trip over to God and let Him work it out. I had done all I could and I was now, thankfully and blessedly, out of control.
The first day ended with us leading the Monday evening service at A.R.M. It was testimony night, and here we were.. the first time most of my kids had shared their stories with the world… and God showed up to help them along. I had been watching these kids grow in their faith over the last 10 months and now, here it was.. their faith unleashed upon the world. (I’m crying as I write this) Seeing them stand in the presence of both believers and non-believers alike and SOUNDLY declare their love of Jesus Christ was overwhelming.
Everything I had been led to teach, do, preach and put into play came to be that first night of this trip.. and we were just getting warmed up.
Bonds were broken, chains were shaken loose, lies were exposed, truths were revealed and we were COVERED with the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday we were back in action, leading praise and worship, speaking love into the lives of children, serving the homeless, sharing our stories and sharing the love of Christ. I have never, in my life prayed with, for and over so many people. I believe I speak for the group with that last statement.
And in the midst of all of this, in all of our designs on spreading the Gospel… we were so blessed to have it shared right back with us. We got to see the joy of having nothing but Jesus in one’s life. Truly, He is all you need.
It was Tuesday that the 18 people on this trip got it (myself included). It wasn’t about doing the same stuff you do at home. It wasn’t about being comfortable. It wasn’t about us simply sharing OUR stories… It was about eating when fed, because you don’t know when your next meal is going to arrive, or even if you’d like it. It was about being WELL outside your comfort zone. It was about sharing HIS story, in which we are all just bit players.
We shot off for Tallahassee on Wednesday morning and went to a boarding school for troubled girls. We played some worship songs for them, and some of our kids shared their testimonies between each. For me, that’s when the trip really started to get interesting.
One of my students.. a shy, underconfident and wonderful 12 year old girl got up and shared her story. And as she spoke, confidence appeared within her… for the first time ever. My mind was blown wide open and my heart broke for her and was healed with her. Her story of Christ within her, rescued (Me).
The rest of Wednesday is somewhat of a blur to me.. a lot happened that day, but it’s not my story to tell.. perhaps I’ll bring a guest blogger in to share his insights as to that day… but Wednesday ended with the most intense night of my life. A 10 year old lie that had been planted in the head of one of my kids was exposed. A serious root cause of unimaginable pain and suffering was destroyed and replaced with true love. I was led to speak words I didn’t understand in a direction I couldn’t make out… but those words led to the lie. If there wasn’t another person in the room with us, I might not believe it all happened like it did. I’m still in a state of disbelief over it all.. it was surreal. It was Christ alive. It was the power of the holy spirit moving through me and using me as His weapon of choice at. that. time.
And that’s all we are, really…
Thursday was a day spent with the homeless at Haven of Rest (link on the Stuff We Like page) where we served them, spoke with them, laughed and cried with them. A day we were changed by them.
We led them in praise and worship that night, and our students again got up and shared their stories.. and again, here comes my 12 year old girl.. now speaking with the command, confidence and authority of a 30 year old who can take on the world.. are you kidding me?!!?!? She owned a room of 120+ people as she spoke of God in her life. Show me another 12 year old with her history who can do that and I’ll tell you that is what being a Christian looks like. And is.
At the end of the service, Pastor Steve got up and was going to send us off with a song from their choir.. but before he did that, this happened.. “I’m being led by the Spirit here.. bear with me.. but we need to take up a collection for these young folks here who came and loved us so for the past 2 days. Let’s make sure they have gas money so they can get home.”
The HOMELESS took up a collection for US.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that feeling. I don’t think I ever want to. On a trip where we were bent on sharing the love of Christ with everyone we met, we found that we were just learning what it was we were trying to share.
We went back to the church we were sleeping at in a state of shock, really.. it was a fun night, with a lot of “wow” going on.. we had our final small group meetings that night, from what I hear, they all went great.. to be honest, I was mainly focused on the 4 kids in my own small group.. (one of them being my 12 year old.. man, she really did rescue me.. I just now see that)
Afterward, myself and my two adult guy volunteers were having a conversation (it’s when the awesome chopping trees quote above was laid on me) and we talked for at least an hour.. when one of my young adults came into the room just NEEDING prayer.. what we prayed over him was, almost verbatim, the conversation we had just had with one another.
I can’t explain that.
Friday morning arrives, and some of us had gone to breakfast at haven of Rest at 5:00 AM.. then we got back to the church and left AHEAD OF SCHEDULE for our return to Jacksonville, where we had a full day planned before heading to our homes.
We were running on empty. I seriously contemplated calling City Rescue Mission and Daniel Kids and telling them we just couldn’t make it,that we were spent.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
We showed up at CRM totally not ready to play music, or to serve anyone.. we had nothing left. We were emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically DONE.
We prayed, and asked for His strength, for we had none. And that’s when God said “I got this”
We were put in a position where we were forced to rely on God to sustain us. And He showed up in force.
The music was louder and more purposeful, the testimonies were raw and ALL God. Our energy was boundless. We finished up our time with City Rescue Mission and went to Daniel Kids.. We played dodge ball, we played kickball, we played more music and ran around with the kids there.. Had you seen us that morning, all we would have been good for was bedtime stories and perhaps a light snack.
Truly it was our own Good Friday, for He rescued (Us)
I am sure I forgot details or neglected to mention some of the things that happened on this trip, but I can honestly say it was the most difficult week of my life, but also the most rewarding.
I have never been under such spiritual attack. I have never been so depleted of energy or strength. I have never been so emotionally twisted and tortured.
Conversely, I have never been so lifted up, I have never been so full of the Holy Spirit, I have never felt more healed and redeemed.
This trip, without a doubt, Rescued (Me)
And now it’s all I can do to to all I can do to Rescue (You)
In His Service,