Wednesday night Ecclesia launched a program partnership with the Rescue Mission of Muskegon. The program is for underprivileged kids who were sent to summer camp for the first time and now can have a weekly program that provides them with an ongoing opportunity to learn about this God who created them, loves them fully, and desires to burst into every inch of their precious, little selves. We served a great dinner and the kids watched highlight videos from their time at camp, a few of the camp staff gave a devotional to encourage the kids to continue to seek all of God. The evening was wrapped and we said good bye and cleaned up. After most everyone had left, myself and Steve were gathering the youth together for our regular time of hanging out.
But the sounds of a handful of little kids came tearing down the stairs and into the kitchen, laughing and screeching. I looked at the little girl leading the pack and asked, "Hey little lady, what are you all up to?" Her eyes sparkle and her little smile stretches to her ears, "I was at the camp dinner and you said that if we didn't have a church, then this can be our church! Then you said, "Welcome home!" I felt my eyeballs trying to grab the tears from washing over them. "I did say that, and I meant it." "Well then," she said, "I ran home and got my friends and told them to come and see my new church!" After I handed out some high fives, I offered some of the brownies we had left over. Just then, a late arriver comes whipping around the corner at top speed, he catches my eye, and immediately freezes. "Hey, you're my mentor from school," he shouts at me. This little guy is who I was a Kids Hope mentor for this past school year. He runs over to me and gives me a hug, which was the first hug he had ever given me. "My friend said this is her new church, and she said this can be my church too." Now you're just not being fair God, the tears now jumping down my cheek like a kid on a slip and slide. He looks up at me, "Now that this is my church, can I have a Bible?" At this point I feel like there is a little man in my chest taking a bat to my heart like it's a pinata. My humbled tongue manages to droll out, "Of course, I'll run upstairs and grab you one," but he insists on coming with me. We walk into an office and I mention that it is mine, "This is your office? You mean you work here?" It dawns on me that he never asked what I do and I never told him during our school time together. "Yep, I work here." "That means this is your church to, so we can go to church together?" Dear God, my heart has dissolved, can I have another one? "Sure we can," I weakly answer wiping my soaked cheeks. We hop back down the stairs and he joins the other kids as they run around for a few minutes and then scramble out the door and down the street.
The ministry has never been more crackling, kids from all over the neighborhood are finding a home and a family. Sunday mornings are consistently absorbing kids from the neighborhood, but mom and dad are not in tow. This summer has been a whirlwind in terms of serving so many in need. A crazy amount of food was given to those who have none, a kids carnival was swallowed up by a neighborhood hungry for laughter and love, and countless prayers were blanketed over broken and hurting people. I never could have imagined my life playing out this way. I have the privilege of being a pastor to this beautiful community, and yet, two days from now the bank can't deposit my paycheck.
The church doesn't have the money.
It is a beautiful community, but their giving does not equate in dollars and cents. Their bank accounts are nearly empty and that is only a sliver of their needs.
I love this neighborhood, I love Muskegon, and I have never believed more in the church being the hands and feet of Jesus, so what does one do?
I have a loyal wife, a three-year old boy with endless energy, and another one basking in my wife"s tummy due to arrive around Thanksgiving that need provision as well.