Monday, September 8, 2008

To You, My Friend...

We go through most of our lives surrounded by people we care about, good people who laugh with us and even cry with us. We hang out with these good people, work with them, share moments of our day with them, call them our friends. We are blessed to have them. But once in awhile while laughing and crying with a certain person it dawns on you that this person is one of the few who knows exactly what made you laugh and feels the reason you shed tears. With a look you understand their thoughts and in their absence you mentally hear their commentary on the happenings of your life. They get you. And you get them. We are given less of these people to walk through life with but the impact of their friendship fills the greater part of our lives. Sometimes they come and go, like stepping stones meant to keep you headed in the right direction. Sometimes they walk through all of life with you as if they were a part of you born into the world outside of yourself. These people are given special titles that attempt to put a label on what we feel about them. They are known to us as Best Friends, Bosom Friends, Soul Mates, Kindred Spirits, Blood Brothers, and many other terms that feebly describe their significance. These people make the ups and downs of making and keeping friends worth it. As C.S. Lewis says, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” The moments you spend in laughter with these people seem all the more joyful and the tears cried on their shoulders all the more meaningful. Time and distance do not dissuade these friendships, although if it were up to you and not the circumstances of life, they would not be far from you for long. My Kindred Spirits and Bosom Friends, you know exactly who you are, I cannot imagine my life without you and I am forever grateful for your love and laughter. Your absence is grieved and your presence is profound in my life. What you act and speak into me is nothing short of a miracle; so much of life’s rapture would be lost without you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Laniecha and Ja'Marion

Through my relationship with Laniecha and her son Ja'Marion God has taught me a lot about ministry and relationships and has also shown me that my relationship with them is soundly embeded in the greater Body of Christ. You all have been so faithful to pray and to meet needs, which is so meaningful to me, and not entirely lost on Laniecha. The summer was confusing, in which it felt like Laniecha pulled back from wanting to be connected with us, but we are now feeling out where she's at and easing back into their lives. Her family moved much closer to us and so it is a lot easier to just drop in and see how things are going!

As many struggles as she has and as many things as she does the wrong way, I can see in her eyes that she loves that baby boy of hers and she's definitely determined that she will make it to college. Currently she is at one of the local high schools that has a bad reputation; it even has a day care, which speaks to the issues of the neighborhood but is a wonderful blessing for her. She is determined to not get caught up in all the drama and fights at school, and so, between classes and on her lunch she goes down to the day care and spends time with Ja'Marion. And, Ja'Marion, he is the sweetest, most mellow baby I think I have ever seen. God blessed her with an extremely happy baby. He has smiles and little baby chuckles for everyone, but when he sees his momma he lights up and laughs with more excitement. Praise God for giving her a baby who goes to sleep on his own and stays asleep and who is content to just be with his mom. It would be so much more difficult for her to get through school if this wasn't the case

Please continue to pray for them. It is so hard to stay strong in her surroundings. And please continue to pray for Andrew and I as we seek to know the best way to minister to their family. We appreciate you all so much and are grateful that we are never "on our own," because God has given us such a great support system!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Update

September 1, 2008

Dear Team,

Mowing the lawn and walking the dog do not seem like prime ministry activities, but I think Adria and I meet more people in our neighborhood by doing these two things than just about anything else we do. Being of a different culture is sometimes like flipping a coin. The coin could land on the side of disadvantage, or it could land on the other side, the side of advantage. In inner-city ministry we definitely experience both sides of the coin. Yet, one of the advantages of being different in any situation is that often people listen to you. They know you are different and so they think that you just might have an answer to their question that is different from what they normally would hear. And sometimes the obvious difference just sparks questions of curiosity that can lead to discussions about our purpose here in the city.

While doing the seemingly mundane we have: had kids come to reconcile relationships after they had a bad day at club; stepped in as mediator when a kid we knew was accused of vandalism; been pointed out as “those white people in our neighborhood” only to have a good conversation about improving the neighborhood; talked about the importance of being part of a church; become acquainted with the local drug dealer, been informed of the history of Dietrich Bonhoffer, fixed numerous bike chains for neighbor kids, listened to a young man wanting to make better life choices, and walked side-by-side with the children we are building relationships with as they clamor for a chance to walk the dog.

When I plan to mow our lawn I plan to mow the lawn, but it is amazing to see how many times God plans for a simple chore to be a meaningful ministry opportunity. We did not inherit my brother’s dog with the intention of meeting people, but God planned him to be a part-time catalyst for relationship building. So often I honestly do not know where to begin to answer their questions or how to help them with their problems. But, this is where my relationship with Christ comes in.

Many people in our community know Adria and I. Some know that we work for World Impact, many know that we are Christians, but all of them know that we are different. In this case our difference can be a huge advantage as we strive to draw their questions toward the only true answer, Jesus Christ. Please pray for us as we continue to mow our lawn and walk our dog, seemingly run of the mill activities, but which in actuality God makes into ministry opportunities. Pray that we will have the wisdom to meet our neighbors with words of hope and healing. Pray that our conversations will turn into long-lasting relationships that lead to salvation through Jesus. It is such an honor to serve Christ in the inner city of St. Louis and to have each of you on our team!

All for our King, Andrew & Adria Medlen