Monday, December 7, 2009

Big love in November.

This past month was full of love. But before we got to November Life Bridge has been preparing to do great things. It started this past summer when our student ministry took a trip to Holland, Michigan for the CIY MOVE conference. This year at the conference \the students were challenged to go out and MOVE in the kingdom of God and serve something more than themselves.
This year, sealed envelopes were handed out which contained cards with a mission written on it. Those with an envelope were asked to pray about it and asked NOT to open the envelope unless they were sure that they were going to complete the mission God had called them to do.
Adults could grab an envelope, but were not compelled to. Jeni Bolton, who has been working with me as a Sr. High Youth Leader, grabbed one. It read:


Organize a food drive for Thanksgiving this year. Make it your goal to raise enough food and funds to feed 500 families.

The goal was to raise 500 turkeys but she took it way past that. She was able to raise enough money and other donations to provide 500 turkey dinners including all the fixins’ for Thanksgiving. You can read more about the process and the organization of it all at and in the local newspaper here,01n5001126.article.

All the while this was happening, our community group that meets at my house felt compelled to raise some funds for the Rapha House. The Rapha House is committed to rescuing young girls who are victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and prostitution. They provide these young girls a safe home to heal; receive an education; and to empower them to make good life choices.

Our community group thought about all the ways we could go about in raising funds and awareness and landed on the idea to put a race together. Since a few of us are active runners we were able to start spreading the word about it to our running circles. We were able to work with the guys who run the timing to organize a 5K run/walk and 10 mile race. The race was able to raise almost $2000 to help the Rapha House. With over 100 runners we were able to promote awareness and rally together around mission and justice. You can read more about it at and in the local newspaper here,01nwoycik1112.article.

Valparaiso may not seem so diverse of a city but if you look close enough, you can see many sub-cultures dwelling within it. We have commuters traveling to Chicago via the train or car. Local business owners making a buck or none. Veterans of the steel mills. Farmers growing and maintaining their crops. Local and out of state students attending V.U., PNC or Ivy Tech. The economic balance within the city is askew and you'll see pockets of racial diversity as well. Just a few blocks south of Life Bridge "the Hill" is known for it's poverty and low-income housing.

As Christians we're called to be sent out into our hurting world and join God in the renewal of all things. Bearing the image of the invisible God, being His Ambassadors, called to peace, mercy and love. Just as Jesus was sent, so are we.

As we recognize the diversity in Valparaiso we also need to recognize who it is we're being sent to. We are to do this by engaging our culture (in the world) without being absorbed by the culture (of the world.) This means we need to tear down our private fences and open up opportunities to know and love our neighbors.

Our mission exists for that purpose: to engage our culture with the image of the invisible God building relationships that transform lives. Each community is unique as is the diversity Valpo has to offer. But at her core are the Word of God and a nurturing community building each other up. When we rally together around mission you see God at work in our community and outward, even to Cambodia.

No comments: