This past Sunday I took Caleb to experience Renovo (Connexion's ministry to the homeless community in Bloomington). Actually, it's probably more accurate to say that Caleb took me - he's been asking constantly for about 3 months, ever since the Renovo video was shown in Underground (ECC's kids ministry). After being there for a couple of hours here are some of my thoughts:
1. Loving the needy isn't a part time or one time deal. I'm not a regular at Renovo, not by a long shot. Thing is, you could tell. I got into a few conversations, but I also `watched those who were regulars and it was different. The people being served knew them, trusted them, connected with them, loved them. It was evident. I'm sure it wasn't always that way for those who are regulars, but that level of fellowship between the men and women being served and those regular students doing the service has developed over months and sometimes years. That's awesome. So often we volunteer for a soup kitchen or shelter and do it once a year or once a month. We come and get our 'service' merit badge (literally or figuratively) and then walk out feeling good about ourselves. This crew is different. They are there and involved in these people's lives (sometimes against pastoral warnings). I never had a sense that any of the students were their to get their 'service cards' punched. They were there because the loved the people and loved sharing the love of Christ with them.
2. Love is hard work. I went home really tired (and I hadnt' done any of the prep work or the clean up). I personally find making conversation very tiring, and this was even more tiring than most conversation making. It takes energy as well as time to love well. In addition, trying to turn the conversations to spiritual matters was not at all easy. Yet I overheard several of the regular students involved in fairly deep spiritual conversations with the guests. My hat really goes off to them for all the hard work that is put in week in and week out.
3. College students can make a huge impact. College students are naive, and I love it. They believe they can change the world. While the impact of these students work may not quite have global impact, they are having a huge impact on their churches and this community (do that in enough places and there will be a global impact!). There are now churches involved in serving the community in ways they never had before. Why? Because some college students showed them by their example that they should!
I know I'll be back. Caleb will make sure of it. He loved it and had about a billion questions afterwards (like, "Dad, what's an existentialist?" Thanks Hal!). I was tired and energized all at the same time. Thank you all for the hard work you put into this ministry and the love you pour out. God bless.