Well, it looks like this is the first update I’ve made since March… Oh, dear. Thanks for your patience. 🙂
April was a fairly uneventful month, and I have to say, it was pretty discouraging. Coordinating with the lawyer and my church elder got pushed to this month, moving forward overall came to a standstill, and spiritually, I started falling into unbelief and apathy. But praise God that He doesn’t operate based on my merit or my timetable. He keeps working, even while I sleep.
And at the end of April, God encouraged my heart – specifically through Faith in Action, a team of disciples from Southside Alliance Church.
These brothers and sisters saw what, to be honest, at that point I was struggling to see – a home where God would work to share the gospel. You can clearly see the work they did with their hands, but they did so much more. They prayed over me, reminded me of the truth of God’s faithfulness, and ate with me, leaving behind the leftovers they brought (which fed me for the next week).
I am so incredibly thankful for their faithfulness to God in service.
Fast forward a month. From late May to August, I had a young woman living with me. She has since left for college, but the joy she brought stays with me. I can honestly say, I don’t think a day went by where she didn’t have me in stitches. She frequently comes back to visit, too, for weekends or just overnight drop-ins.
I was alone for a few months, but at the end of October, I gained another sister. This woman is a little different from others; I consider her more of a peer. She is a year older than me and needs a home for a few months between her lease ending and her marriage. A more recent Christian, she has been such a massive support to me as I have been encountering personal struggles and changes in my life, and in turn, I have been able to pour into her life. I am completely blessed by God’s sovereignty in bringing her to me when He did.
Over Thanksgiving, we had a full house as well. From Monday night to Sunday, the young woman from this past summer, as well as another college girl that I know through a brother in Christ, filled the remaining rooms in the home. I think I have finally caught up on sleep, but it was such a joy-filled week with the rooms occupied. My soul was fed and rejuvenated. It feels like a preview of what may be in the future for The Haven, with longer-term occupants and each room taken.
Most recently, I was humbled and moved by the women’s ministry at City Church. I only knew two women there, but the ministry as a whole had been praying for me for weeks behind the scenes. I only became aware of the love they had for me, even though having never met me, when the leader of the ministry asked to meet with me. She expressed her awe for what God was doing and her love for me (again, this was our first meeting). We talked about God’s goodness and His desire to draw His children to Himself and show Himself to be glorious in our broken lives. After our conversation, we went to her car, where there were six bags of products and supplies, waiting for The Haven.
I was stunned. Again, this was a church that did not need to know me to know what God was doing and trust that their sacrifice would not be in vain. And somehow, I was surprised again by the power and provision of God. Somehow, I was still trying to earn it in my heart. But gifts aren’t earned. And this was all gift.
Currently, I am reaching out to young women who may need a new start. I have also been talking with some sisters-in-Christ that I met through various channels in other states and other countries. It has been mind-blowing to see God make the body of Christ feel much closer, make the world a bit smaller, through these “random” connections.
In terms of what is to come, I am thrilled to say that God has reignited my initial vision and passion that had admittedly been muted and discouraged. I once again fell prey to the notion that “success” looked like a fantastical well-oiled machine of a ministry, when it really is the faithful walking of the day to day, one step at a time – the decision every morning to say, “More of You, less of me,” (John 3:30) and being a living sacrifice. Success is the Lord’s glory unfolding, on His watch and in His way – not mine, and not even the house’s.
“Relying on God has to being all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
I had also fallen prey to the notion that it was on my shoulders. I had to win hearts, I had to earn gifts, I had to be perfectly coordinated in everything. Again, this is a reliance on self and not on the Lord.
The next steps for the Haven, then, are moving towards fuller reliance on Him and making the Haven a more tangible example of His care. I have been encouraged time and time again by people to continue in this calling. Just recently, I was reminded again how much this community needs to know Jesus, the true Jesus, the One who loves us so much that He died so we don’t have to be “good enough” to be with God. He died to call us family, and in His resurrection, He lives and calls us “brother/sister”.
The true beauty of hospitality is that we are given the opportunity to illustrate this acceptance and the gift of a new identity. Once, we were strangers. Once, we were enemies of God. But God showed us the greatest example of hospitality, making us citizens and inheritors of His kingdom. Now, we are family. Now, we are friends of God.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
I John 3:1
What this looks like includes networking with more churches, hopefully to create opportunities for them to participate in this ministry. What participation will look like exactly, I think will look a little different for every church. For some, it will be tangible donations, like City Church gave. I have seen that church to be gifted in making things happen, especially in regards to meeting needs in the community. For other churches, it may be service, like Southside Alliance did last April. For some, it might be prayer, teaching, coordinating potential events, etc. I believe the body here is fully equipped to testify the power of God’s love to the community, and I pray that The Haven becomes a conduit for that.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”
I Corinthians 12:4-6
I hope to write another blog post soon, focused on reflections and encouraging you all as to how God is displaying His character and glory in this time.
May God bless you and continue to make you more like Jesus…