The Big and Crazy Apple

We are excited to meet our “blog” friends, the Roses!  It’s kind of like meeting a pen pal.  We will be getting to know them quite intimately as our family stays for a couple days in their tiny little apartment.  Here’s their blog website if you want to get to know them a little also! http://kristiankatyrose.blogspot.com/

We will be away from the RV for a couple days meeting Kristian and Katy, meeting their friends, seeing New York, checking out the Apostles church and working with the Relief Bus.  So, we’ll catch everyone up on how this weekend went when we get back!

Sidenote: New York City is as wild as everyone says it is!  We’ve already messed up on the subway a couple times, walked a billion miles, rode the Staten Island Ferry, had yummy NY pizza, and hit the 5:00 crowds on the way back.  Yesterday was our $20 “tourist” day, had a great time and exhausted ourselves!

Jubilee House was wicked (in the Bostonian sense)

Before we begin posting on our wild adventures in New York we wanted to explain a little more about what Jubilee House was like.

Bill and Sue Dunigan are majors for the Salvation Army and back in 1993 were given the opportunity to start this little community.  Their heart for the Jubilee House is to be missional, a place to build and send while at the same time having a core group of believers who live in the house and are committed to the Dorchester neighborhood in day to day living.  Over the past 15 years they have seen many faces come and go.  Each semester, Gordon College sends a small group of students to enter in the community at Jubilee House, providing an opportunity to taste community and urban ministry, an urban plunge if you will.  Some of them catch the vision, others take it as a good experience and many walk away unphased by it all.

There are others who live and serve at the Jubilee House because they love it there and have been changed by the Light that shines from it.  These people, along with Bill and Sue’s family, would be the core residents.

Dorchester is kind of like a district of Boston, just south of the city and has been labeled a “high crime” area.  Many of the streets in Dorchester are filled with HUGE beautiful houses, dating back to the late 1800’s fully equipped with “carriage houses” in the back yards, priced at millions of dollars.  Wealth and poverty are placed together but there is a huge division in communities.  We rarely saw the wealthy outside their homes but we were constantly talking and walking the streets with the poor and homeless.

The Jubilee House was a holy combination of both- big, beautiful house with all kinds of people welcome to eat, live and fellowship together.  And none of them claim to have it all together. They are doing the best they can and praising the name of Jesus, knowing all things are possible with God.

We worshipped together on Sunday.  Bill did the speaking, Sue led singing and worship.  It was a novel idea — a “small group” of people “living life together.”  I know mega churches are all the rage these days, I have a theory on that — people don’t have to talk to anyone if they don’t want to, it’s less obtrusive, it doesn’t draw you out into transparency and eventual growth.  That is why life groups are pushed so hard, and I am witness to them being effective to growing closer to Christ and to fellow believers.  But the Jubilee House was already a small group of about 20 people who came together, knowing full well their own brokeness (ourselves included) and shared their troubles, their struggles, and their praises.  The only difference is that on this Sunday you knew you would see the same people Monday – Saturday, each probing deeper and asking how you were, if you’d seen the doctor, or how your sister was — all the struggles and praises you brought up on Sunday.  For first time guests, rather than have a coffee bar, couches and a bookstore to make you “feel at home,” you were asked to introduce yourself, and then when the church broke into groups of 3-4 you had the opportunity to pray for someone, as well as be prayed for — how many mega churches do you have the opportunity to do that on your first visit.  Community forces transparency!  The Jubilee House showed us just one more slice of the Community of God.

Park Street Church, Boston

It was pretty fun to have an opportunity to share our story at one of the oldest churches in America, Park Street Church.  Our family joined the small urban ministry group that works right across the street from the church in the Boston Common. They have someone make muffins and coffee right before they go out so they are nice and hot.  We were encouraged to also hear and see their hearts as we served and talked with their group.  Thank you Park Street for welcoming us!

things we’ve learned

After 4 months of traveling and learning how to live on the road with our family, God has stretched and moved in many ways in our own hearts and minds.  It is hard for us to really put it all into words but we wanted to make an attempt to communicate with those of you who are praying, encouraging and following us on this journey.  These are just a few things He has been helping us process and see with His eyes:

“Kingdom perspective” and “Jesus lives in us”

Before we left home the Lord had been speaking to Andy and I about this.  He had given us much joy through our times downtown when we communed with many of the homeless under the Burnside Bridge.  Often times we saw little glimpses of what the Kingdom of God should look like.  Diversity, equality, and the freedom to pray, worship and talk about our Savior.  We must continue to remind ourselves that we are equally loved in the eyes of God. This reminder alone breaks down walls and begins to create an atmosphere where God can work and move in HIS way.  We are seeing that as we purposely pull ourselves out of this world, while still living in it, we allow God to give us a clearer vision of who we are (followers of Christ, agents of resurrection, soldiers of the Kingdom) and how we bring the Kingdom near, wherever we go.  Jesus lives in us, therefore, we have the authority to follow His leading and battle the evil powers of darkness.  The Kingdom of God and the world are becoming more separated as He covers us with His grace and mercy.  His grace and mercy give us accountability as we attempt to walk out Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

“Community”

We have seen so many different communities as we travel even though it has only been 4 months.  All of them are different in their own way with unique qualities.  However, the most peaceful communities that we have seen have had some sort of known order to them, an understanding among the core “workers” of what their purpose is and what is expected of them as part of the community.  A lack of purpose results in complacency and individualism.  This takes an incredible amount of effort, especially in the beginning.  This is a hard balance for humans to maintain- it can go from totally relaxed, from fear of trying to control, to having a hard-core schedule and unrealistic expectations that set up the community for failure, which then creates an atmosphere of “works”.  Both are not from God, both are terribly easy for our flesh to fall into.

God is the only answer to community, He works out the details if we are willing and ready to be real with others and open to look at our own hearts for places that need change.  We found much of this as we traveled with Tim and Jenn Fidanzo, working, ministering, and living together.  In our little community, we were stretched, pulled and molded into better communicators and more reliant on our big God to unite our relationships, rather than trying to make peace on our own strength.

“Our life is our ministry”

This is last but definitely not least- and believe, me there is so much more we are learning!

We are understanding that ministry is not “formal”, it is how we live our life.  Do we live life on purpose or do we just glide along and find projects and vacations along the way?  John B. Hayes says it well, “The lost are compelled to follow Christ when they see how you do life- how you treat your children, where you buy your groceries, how you care for your neighbors- not by how much you do ministry.”

So rather than focusing on our “ministry” as we travel, we listen to His Spirit and are compelled to live this season of life fully.  Some days are filled with errands, some are grease hunts, some are rest days, other days are handing out coffee to the homeless, and many others are making relationships with all the people who God places in our path.  Our hope is to do all of these things with the mind of Christ, and allowing Him access to every part of our day.

We are so thankful for all of you who have continued to pray for us, support us financially and follow us on our journey through e-mail, phone calls, and our website!  We are very blessed when it comes to communication, I can’t imagine not having easy access to friends and family back home.

We are encouraged to know many of you are also being obedient and faithful to the Lord.  Press on, be blessed and make sure to tell God stories along the way!

Community with Jubilee House

We joined the Jubilee House (where we are staying) for their community dinner last night.  They have it every Tuesday for neighbors, friends, kids and whoever else needs a little community in their life.  We had a random collection of leftovers and talked with a few folks from around the area.

Dinner included a wild mix of people- a group of teenage girls, a mentally disabled man (Rob), a few homeless folks, a few people who live at the house, a few people who live around the area who have it pretty rough at home and then us.  It was good.  I have grown to really like diversity, it makes life more interesting.

Afterwards they have a Bible Study time- one for men and one for women, nothing formal or very structured, just a time to ask questions and study some Scripture.  I decided to join in with the women’s study, which actually turned out to be a combined group this time.

Honestly, it was a little awkward.  Just a random sleu of mostly baby Believers getting together to study the Bible.

I helped Rob find Bible verses the whole time as he oohed and ahhed over my “quick finding skills”.  One of the men had a few verses that he wanted to talk about which didn’t go as smoothly as he had hoped.  Some of them went off on tangents about their neighbor or their friend’s friend.  Missy, who was kind of facilitating the discussion did well at veering everyone back on topic quite a few times.  Some of them barely talked the entire time.  Considering the tangents and oohing and ahhing, I think we covered some ground.

But besides “covering ground or getting things accomplished”, as I sat back, listened, and looked around, I heard the Lord say, “This is good and beautiful. This is my Kingdom.”  As awkward or haphazard it was, God was smiling to see that His children were getting together to talk about Him.  I was able to see a little glimpse of the beauty He saw as we all sat together in the little chapel room.

God is not asking us to be complicated, super-structured, or intense intellectuals.  He is asking us to be like children.  Sitting in that group last night was beautiful.  Thank you Lord for your beautiful children.

Seren

This little spot needs some Jesus

We went down a few blocks from our parking spot at the Jubilee House to Dorchester Ave. today to give out some free coffee.  Most people wouldn’t make eye contact with me, and even more didn’t want anything I was offering.   This is what I did most of the morning:

But that was OK.  We pray for an attitude of simplicity, and when we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, whatever comes our way is a blessing.  That may be feeding hundreds and praying for just as many, or it could be handing out 8 cups of coffee and listening deeply with those 8 people.  I was able to pray for one Vietnamese man named Gree (probably spelled much differently) who had lost his job 7 months ago and was looking for work — any work.  With his broken English he told me his story about working hard the past 7 years and always having work.  The fact that he lived in the same place for all 7 of the years yet his landlord kicked him out just yesterday.  I prayed with him that he would find a job, but that more importantly he would see Jesus revealed in his life, and that Jesus would become the only thing that he truly “needed.”

The most enjoyable friend that I met was a guy named Ron.  Ron approached me as I was sitting exactly like the picture above.  He didn’t make eye contact until he was a few feet away.  When he did I asked him if he wanted some free coffee and his immediate (and I mean immediate) response was “NO!”  Then not 4 seconds later he came back around the corner and said, “what did you say?”  I repeated the same thing, “would you like some free coffee?”  He smiled from ear to ear and a look of disbelief came over his face.  “Your just giving free coffee away?  Sure, I love coffee, I have no idea why I said ‘No’ I love coffee.  Something made me just stop and turn around.”  The whole time a huge infectious smile crossed his face.  Then he asked, “So, why do you do this?”  I simply said “Jesus.”  Ron’s face changed to a serious look and he seemed like he was going to cry, not in a blubering kind of way, but in a way that he couldn’t stop because he was moved.  He glanced slightly upward as to look to God and with his hand on his chest he started to tell me about his relationship with God, and as his story went on so did his excitement.  Ron was a great encouragement on a day we had to pour out a bunch of coffee.

Ron went on to say that he wasn’t even going to come down the block I was on, but something led him that direction.  He also said that the small park we were set up at was the exact ground that a Vietnamese gang had “claimed.”  Some stabbings and even some shootings had occurred there in the past months.  He mentioned, “This little spot needs some Jesus.”

All settled and ready to go!

So we made it to Dorchester (just south of Boston) yesterday and got ourselves squeezed into the perfect spot behind the Jubilee House.

Perfect place for our family with kitchen access, laundry access, people to talk to/get to know, play structure complete with lots of sand, walking distance to great public transit and vehicles to borrow if need be.  Wow!  Thank you God for your abundant provision!

Getting all ramped up for a day of public transportation and working with Boston’s homeless at the Boston Commons.