Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reflections on Week of Hope

Our Week of Hope with Group Workcamps was an unforgettable experience. I tried not to hog the space in our blogs from Canandaigua, NY, because I wanted you to hear more of the words from the troops. Now that we have been home for a few days, I’m ready to hog the space again.

My biggest take away from our mission trip is that the Holy Spirit is powerful! He took our experience to a whole ’nother level. He was able to overcome our confusion, discomfort, fatigue and disorganization, and he renovated our hearts.

The conditions of our lodging were less than ideal. The men/boys slept in the church basement/fellowship hall. You would think that the basement would be cool, but you’d be wrong. At least we had plenty of space. The women/girls slept upstairs in classrooms, two of which were air conditioned. Our group got the AC. God was watching over us. But with the slightly cooler air, they had too little floor space for the 10 of them. There was only room for seven air mattresses. It reminded me of Jesus’ parable when the friend didn’t want to answer the door in the middle of the night because his family were all asleep.

The worship times at night were held in the church sanctuary, which was built in 1872 – no lie. It did not have AC (duh), but had huge stained glass windows with small panels that opened. (We were told to close the windows at night to keep the bats out.) The music was led by a team from a youth group from Ohio. They tried their best, but had difficulty getting it all together.

The reason I mention the less-than-ideal elements is that God trumped them. So often we believe that spiritual work requires slick, professional presentation. (How did the Holy Spirit work before AC and video clips?) We don’t want to be sloppy in our corporate worship, of course, but Jesus can work around it. He can take our minds and souls to things higher than discomfort and disorganization. He can even use those difficulties to catapult us to a greater state of joy and spiritual sensitivity.

But for that to happen, we must be willing to forgo our “right” to comfortable conditions. We have to suspend our desire to critique arrangements and procedures. It takes a humble spirit to accept things as they are and look for God to show up.

He did show up. Lives have been changed in our youth group and in our youth leaders. The momentum in the Crossroads youth group is carrying on and spilling over to our church.