Right where God wants us
Since Jesus isn’t here in person, but we are, the church isn’t our building. The church is the people with his Spirit…and the Spirit blows where it wants! (John 3:8) That makes my job coordinating our Beyond These Walls gifts very exciting. This time of year, we celebrate people like Curtis who stepped into a place he never expected and said it was like God reached down to him and said, “Hey, you’re right where I want you to be.” You’ll have to join us in worship tomorrow to hear where that was!
Paying off our church building freed up $536,018.02 to give away for God’s mission Beyond These Walls in the last fiscal year. Some of those are huge projects like the new FISH Food Bank and a Habitat for Humanity house. Some leaders we send out are bold… nurturing multicultural ministries in historically white communities, or sharing Christ in U.S. cities where young people are leaving church or have never encountered it.
I also like to think of Beyond These Walls as adding wind to the sails of anyone faithfully loving our neighbors in need and guiding people to life with Jesus. The Spirit is already blowing and directing them. And when the Spirit in our church joins them, I hope we all end up right where God wants us, too.
Loving our neighbors can be hard
Years back, Sue Braaten was volunteering to support kids in state custody. She deeply grieved the times siblings were separated, or when kids moved time and again, multiplying their trauma. God gave her a vision for The Homestead Community and others who shared her passion and skills needed to purchase a home where Christian foster parents would have room for everyone and could afford to stay permanently. This year, Chapel Hill got the chance to contribute all the bathroom renovations for a sweet, spacious house with a yard. Pray Christ will fill this home!
There’s another roomy old house just over the bridge that’s home (at least for now) to 15 moms who get to keep their kids. Most of them have survived trauma themselves and need help with a lot of parenting basics. New Phoebe House has a bustling common kitchen and family room. Our Comfort Quilters group is blessing each mom with a coverlet, and MOPS table groups contributed a laundry basket of household supplies for each family at Christmas—gifts that they can use as they move on for a fresh start, empowered to be the moms their kids need, and the women God wonderfully made. (See the quilts in the lobby tomorrow!)
New Phoebe House isn’t a Christian organization. Our grant came at a time when county money dried up… and when Roe v. Wade was overturned. Rebuilding life after abuse and prison is no picnic, let alone with a baby. This year Chapel Hill made a deliberate commitment to step in as Jesus-followers to show Pierce County and fellow believers that New Phoebe House is doing his work, and we stand with them.
Chapel Hill also gave to open a new CareNet site in Kitsap County so women carrying babies can get support, and men can get parenting skills, too. They openly share the gospel with those interested, and freely offer grace no matter who walks in their door. This is not easy work either.
Beyond These Walls also fuels a lot of simpler projects. Like the Life Group whose adult kids are graduated now but who heard that Peninsula High School staff were grieving yet another student death. They wrote encouraging notes and gave them treats in handmade mugs. A group of guys organized a men’s weekend to grow in their faith and friendship. Next weekend, we can all pitch in for back-to-school needs just like we do on Compassion Kit builds for street ministry. Maybe you are called to host a neighborhood BBQ, or become a short-term host home for a teen, or whatever other dream the Spirit has given you…Chapel Hill wants to be the wind in your sails, too! Please reach out to me (email@example.com). We are taking applications.
Jesus fills us up and wakes us up
The thing about obeying Jesus’ call to go out with the good news and to love one another is that he is sending us among people who are divided… from each other, from abundant life, from himself. So walking out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission means we reconcile divided people.
It’s a summer before an election year with movies stirring attention toward gender issues and violence. As the Spirit tosses you about, how do we navigate it all? The longing for peace and need to see that God cares when we suffer can come up in any conversation, with believers or not. The urge for a sign (What can I do?) feels daunting. Sharing Beyond These Walls stories can remind people that we are part of a movement blowing way beyond the tickle down my own spine. It is also a reminder to pay attention to that tickle!
Our church leaders made a massive commitment to Beyond These Walls. It’s the money Chapel Hill spends first, regardless of budget strains. My small part sometimes involves going places where people don’t expect to see Christians (helping fund a Local Makers market or a secular women’s shelter). Sometimes it involves bolstering believers doing work that Jesus commanded but that many of us find uncomfortable (going into prisons). Like the Walk for Water, it is always about inspiring every worshipper to walk the talk.
The motto for Beyond These Walls is the same one Paul gave to the church in Rome…a divided people if ever there was! “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” He goes on: “The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Romans 8:13-15)
Paying a love debt from God is one that never ends because God’s love is inexhaustible. I pray it fills you up and wakes you up today! For Chapel Hill’s own Carie Gordy and her two sons, that love is sending them to Camp Levi next week for families affected by disability, a ministry that Beyond These Walls money helped get off the ground. For an auto mechanic in Oregon, love leads him to do oil changes and car AC repair for single moms (or even sell his wedding ring to obey his call. Thanks to your generosity, our grant helped that couple keep their rings!) Your giving reminds me that the Spirit can move us in any profession, at any age, to anyone in order to reconcile us all to himself. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
Director of Outreach
Chapel Hill’s Outreach team exists to support every member living on mission right where you are and growing as part of God’s global family. I’d love to meet you and learn something I didn’t know. We can wonder together about your next step and what our just and merciful God may be up to! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 253.283.0238.