Urban Wilderness

July 23, 2018


Urban Wilderness
Red wing black birds called. A Carolina wren
repeated its “wichety-wichety” incessantly. A
red-headed woodpecker sounded its distinctive
burry trill. Ground hogs skittered under the
brush when seen. Wild grape vines choked
every open area. Tall grass prairie surrounded
the houses across the street. This is Flint.
The humidity hung on your shoulders like a
heavy sopping blanket. There was no escaping
it. Sweat ran down my arms until my work
gloves were sodden like a dish sponge. We were
cutting up the remains of a demolished garage
and its contents. Probably forty years of
neglect: old oil filters, children’s toys from the
1950’s, car parts, rusted screwdrivers, trash,
and wet leaves. Handful by handful we carried it
to the dumpster and layered it in.
Meanwhile a crew of eager
teens were painting. From the
looks of their hands, arms,
faces and legs I wondered if
any was actually getting on the house.
A car rolled by and stopped.
The window came down and a
voice shouted, “Who are you people?”
“We’re from the church and we’re on a mission trip.”
“How much do you charge?”
“We’re doing this for charity.”
“Really? I’ve never heard of that before.
You’re doing a great job, thank you all!” The
window went up and the car drove away.
A man walking down the street called out to
us, “Is this for charity?”
“Yes” we replied.
“Have you guys ever read the Bible? Have
you ever read 1 Corinthians 13?”
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I
turned away and grinned, letting the kids
answer him.
He continued, “It’s the part where it says it
doesn’t matter how much y’all know about the
Bible if you don’t have charity. And if you don’t
have charity you’se just makin’ a loud noise…I
want y’all to know you ain’t makin’ no loud
noise. This is it, man. Y’all got charity!”
All this from a complete stranger. It was the
nicest thing I’ve ever heard said about our youth.
That night in chapel I hear the most moving
Christian testimony I’ve heard in many years. It
came from the lips of our own Kaylee Plaxton.
She revealed the vulnerable parts of her life,
inspired us with her will to
overcome and demonstrated a
mature knowledge of scripture
on the theme of discipleship. I
felt closer to Jesus at the end of
that day then I’d felt in a long time.
The twelfth year of the Flint Mission trip is now history.
Plans are already being laid for next year. It’s a week of
surprises: finding wilderness in
the city, talking Bible with complete strangers
and meeting Jesus in 100 serving youth. If you
go you’ll find yourself pulling weeds, filling
dumpsters, pounding nails, hauling shingles,
paining siding, cutting brush, passing out food,
bandaging cuts and scrapes, buying paint
brushes and even jumping cars. You’ll sleep on
the church floor being blasted by a giant fan
and find yourself happier than a clam. Because
this is the Kingdom of God on earth.
Connect, Grow, Serve
Pastor Tom Anderson

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