in february some of our closest friends moved down to san marcos/oceanside area to take a youth director and pastors position at a church. while colin and i were ecstatic for them, we knew that our saturday night double dates were about to decrease. since the move, we have really only seen them once or twice. so on friday we packed up the car and drove down for the weekend.
they were having a youth night where most of the youth and some leaders rode bikes for the church to a beach house in oceanside [about 15 miles]. then there was surfing, grunion hunting, smore cooking, bbq, and night worship sesh.
the next morning i had the opportunity to speak to one of the childrens classes at the church. they have been on a missions based curriculum for the past couple of weeks and i was asked to share about my heart for missions and my trip last summer to malawi, africa. i was truly amazed and blessed by these 3rd 4th and 5th graders who could really teach me a thing or two about the bible. at the end, a little girl came up to pray for us. her prayer was “thank you god for this day and for this beautiful world because it is so great. thank you for the animals you have made and for all your love.” its easy for little kids to look up to high schoolers or adults and want to be like us. but sunday morning, i found myself wanting to be like them. the bible says that those who are child-like will be the first to enter the kingdom of god. and i felt like i finally understood what this scripture means. it is amazing to see elementary students worship and pour their hearts out in love for our god. their view of the world and of jesus is still simplistic and beautiful and not yet tainted at all. it is not worrying or riding the fence or in need of revival. and it has reminded me that jesus and his love are much more plain than i have come to make it. there is no explanation for his love. and it should be kept this way. the mission statement at my church at home says that “we are a place that keeps the plain things the main things.” and i believe this is rightly so.
i also had the chance to speak to the youth at the bridge that night. after a powerfully intimate time in worship, i was up. i was expecting to say a good amount of what i had said in the morning to the kids on a more mature scale. last minute i had decided to kind of wing it. im a believer that speaking from the heart will always win out in the end… so i spoke from my heart and what i believe to be god’s heart. i talked about how i believe change in the world happens in two ways: missions and social justice. erwin mcmanus says that “when we dream of a better world, we become better people.” I believe missions starts with dreaming of a better world. there is no better a person to dream than us. for years we have seen single people change the world with their dreams. martin luther king. mother theresa. and social justice. as ive always believed, social justice begins with compassion. the definition for compassion is the human quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it. compassion is an understanding that can only come from the heart. when we begin to see with the eyes of our hearts, we begin to see with compassion.
one of my favorite professors said this while in his social justice and ministry of christ class. “if you want to change the world, think in terms of centuries. not years and months because the things you are going to tackle are going to take a lifetime.” i really think this quote can be taken with a grain of salt. its saying that even if you dedicate youre whole life to social justice and world peace and ending poverty, you might make just a pin prick in the worlds issues. is it worth it? i believe it is. it is when little girls are thanking god for the beautiful world he has made. i believe it is when you see children in africa drinking from a cup of clear water and not dirty. i believe it is worth it when people from other countries become not your project or your mission, but your friends.
the social justice wind has rallied up organizations and non-profits who are working to make a difference in our world. and im wondering where the same participation from the church is? a friend of mine used to preach to his youth group and say that “non-christians are doing more than us” for the injustice in our communities and world. and what he meant was not that its about competition, the church vs. the community. but what kind of name are we making for christ? because there are many other names that are becoming greater than the name of the lord. it might not be our responsibility to completely solve world hunger, but it most certainly is our responsibility to try and to bear daily the cross without shame.
all in all, the weekend was perhaps the spiritual renewal we needed. its good to be reminded that there is much more to be done and for our spirits and souls to be stirred up a little. and its always good to be with friends 🙂