Community First Village: Week 14

I celebrated my 28th birthday earlier this week. Briana and Truma made it a special day with surprises, cards, and love. I also got calls from family and friends, which sure meant a lot. It was a great day and I am thankful for all of you who joined me in celebrating a year of God doing big things in my life.

I have had many memorable birthdays in years past—dinners at fancy restaurants, trips, amazing gifts, but this one might end up being the most memorable of my life. We were sitting at our little dinette in the trailer eating breakfast and Briana’s phone rang. It was pretty early so I figured it must be one of our parents, but as the call went on I could tell that it wasn’t. A big smile crept across her face and she said, “Yes, we want to know the gender.” A wave of excitement came over me as we looked at each other across the table at each other anxiously waiting.

When we found out we were pregnant with Truma, we both thought we wanted a boy. We were pretty shocked when we opened the envelope and saw the pink. “How do we raise a girl?” we thought. But Truma has been one of the greatest joys we have ever experienced and the second time around we were completely neutral. I used to think it was important to have a son to carry on the family name, but I have since learned that being blessed with children of either gender brought up in the admonition of the Lord is far more important. Boy or girl, we were going to be ecstatic, but we both had inklings that this one would be a boy.

Several months ago before we even knew we were pregnant, Bonnie, our neighbor at Community First told my parents on their first visit here that Truma was going to have a little brother. My Mom and Dad looked at us like, “Do you have something to tell us?” But we brushed it off and told them that Bonnie was just being silly. Little did we know, the Lord was already knitting a beautiful baby boy together in Briana’s womb.

I heard the voice on the other side of the phone say, “It’s a boy!” as Briana and I looked at each other. My biggest smile stretched a little further. We hugged and cried for joy that we would have a son. Bonnie was right all along.

Below are videos of how we told our parents:

The rest of the week was somewhat of a blur. There was a lot going on in the Property Management office. The assistant property manager and his wife finally had their sweet baby girl, just a few weeks late. A few of our neighbors have been struggling to adjust to community life and abiding by the rules here. We always try to address problems with grace and mercy, but in these particular cases, we aren’t left with many choices. At some point, our hands are tied and we have no choice but to hold people accountable for their actions.

It is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking parts of this life. There were several days that we just felt defeated in the office. Those tough cases are hard, but we were forgetting to look at the glorious redemption stories that were happening all around us. Ninety-nine percent of the people that come here are “wins” for us, but when things go awry, it sure does hurt.

As I have said repeatedly, this is not some kind of utopian community. Sometimes things are messy. Though the problems we deal with are often specific to the population we serve, all forms of close intentional community are messy. We live in a very broken world. Life even in the context of family is occasionally tumultuous at best, so why should we expect this to be any different? It isn’t always easy but the beauty that occurs as we seek to love selflessly is worth it. Obeying God’s command to love our neighbors is eternally valuable, no matter the cost.

On Saturday afternoon, after we hosted one of my childhood best friends that I haven’t seen in years for a tour of the village, we folded out the couch and watched Mary Poppins with Truma. I heard a light knock on the door and went to see who might be stopping by. I opened the door and it was one of our neighbors who has been regularly attending our Bible study. He is a brilliant man who has a vast knowledge of history and world religions. After an incredibly traumatic childhood, he ended up studying at Baylor University. Later in life he became homeless.

I was so excited when he reminded me of a conversation we had several months earlier. I had invited him to church and he was at my door to take me up on the offer. He has sought knowledge from Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all of his life, but has not yet experienced the transforming love of Christ. Briana and I prayed that night that Jesus would meet him in church the next morning and that in his seeking, he would find the truth.

Briana and I worshipped hard that morning. We felt the presence of the Spirit and the weightiness of Christ’s love for us as we approached Holy Week. I had prayed that God would help me forget that our friend was even there and to help me worship earnestly in spirit and in truth. I felt like I was the only one in that room as I sang my deepest joys in the presence of my Savior.

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you
— 1 Peter 1:20 NASB

The sermon was from 1 Peter 1:20 and it was a full and beautiful presentation of the Gospel. I glanced over at our friend every now and then as he took notes; sometimes nodding in agreement and sometimes shaking his head. I left there feeling the weight of God’s love as we went out to lunch for some Greek food.

Afterwards, we took our friend to a synagogue so he could RSVP for a Passover Seder and headed back to the village. We went our separate ways and headed back to the trailer to fold out the couch and watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A few hours later we went for a walk and ran into our friend again. We sat and talked religion for about an hour and it was clear that he still has many hang-ups about Christianity. I was encouraged by some of the things he said and will continue to pray that God would reveal the truth to him.

We are heading back to Midland in less than 3 weeks. I can’t believe how time has flown here. It is going to be hard to leave this community we have come to know and love, but God has clearly called us back to Midland. There is a lot of work to be done and it is going to be hard, but we are confident that God will be with us. We are praying that the Lord will raise some of you up to walk alongside us. We are going to need your help.

Now that we are an official 501c3 the doors have opened for us to pursue the acquisition of land, funding, etc. Those things are necessary for this to be successful, but God knows we need those things and He will provide. More than anything, we want you. You have gifts, talents, and experiences that are meant to lift others up. You have a testimony that points to Salvation. Even your darkest past can serve others through the redemptive power of Christ. We want you to pray that God will show you why He made you, and if the Spirit inside of you draws you to this ministry, we will set off into the unknown together, knowing that God has gone before us. Lay down your life and open your heart to whatever the Lord has created you for. We will rejoice with you as you follow Him, wherever He may lead.

Prayer Requests:

·      Patience to be a witness in challenging circumstances.
·      Praise for the news of our baby boy.
·      Peace in the knowledge that we will be coming home soon.
·      That God will use us for His kingdom in our remaining time here.
·      That each of our readers would seek their calling and that God would raise up people with        the same calling as us.
·      Continued prayers for wisdom as we seek the next step for The Field’s Edge.