As we draw near to the end of our time at Community First, this week has been a week of “lasts”. Last Community Corps Bible Study, last day of church at Austin Stone, last lunch at P. Terry’s. Our neighbors are beginning to realize that we are leaving on Saturday and are starting to say their goodbyes. Before actually coming here, I hadn’t considered the depth of friendships that would be developed. From the surface we were looking for an intensive training program that would equip us to start our own village. We knew that was our calling and this program seemed like a good way to learn. I knew we would make some friends, but I hadn’t thought about my heart becoming so deeply invested here.
We realized pretty early on that while we were learning wonderful and useful things in our serve duties, the most meaningful lessons came from every day life here as residents. We have been so fully and lovingly welcomed; and it has caused even more desire in us to create a space for our homeless friends in Midland, so they can become homemakers, like our neighbors here at Community First.
We are experiencing such a mix of emotions this week. We have made a home in Midland and though we do not have a house there anymore, our community of friends and family are the people who have helped us follow the Lord into this calling. We are excited to be back with our friends, family, church, and get back to smaller town living. That said, it is going to be very hard to leave Community First. To me, that is evidence that this place is doing what it is intended to do, developing deep human-to-human, heart-to-heart relationships.
On Saturday, Community First hosted the Austin Forging Competition, which was absolutely amazing. There were tons of people here watching some of the most gifted blacksmiths in the world shape raw metal into beautiful art by using fire and force. When I think about it, blacksmithing really is a great metaphor for the way God molds and shapes us; bringing us from dead pieces of cold steel into masterpieces that He had in mind before he lit up the forge. In the Christian life, we are heated and refined through the fires of trial, making us malleable for the Lord’s shaping. We are cooled and tempered into what we were always meant to become.
It was definitely an eclectic bunch at the forging competition, but that is what is so great about this place. All are welcomed and equally valued, from wealthy businessmen to crunchy hipsters. It is a beautiful thing to see people from all walks of life brought together.
On Sunday at Austin Stone, our sermon was on 1 Peter 1:22. We have spent our entire time in Austin in one chapter of the Bible, which is pretty incredible (there are still three more verses in the chapter). There truly is infinite wisdom in the word of the Lord. We were reminded that love cost God His only son, and if we have received love that costly we cannot help but love, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems strange that we should especially love our fellow believers, but if you think about it, who is going to want to join a family that doesn’t love each other well?
Real love is costly for us. 1 John 3:16 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” God is not interested in our lip service to one another. He has called us to sacrifice everything for each other. I definitely struggle with loving people well and I was convicted of sin in my heart that keeps me from giving my whole self.
There is a difference between love and tolerance. Tolerance is defined as the allowable deviation from a standard. Love is entangled with truth and the two cannot be separated. Love is gritty and challenging. It requires us to give, rebuke, and restore one another—bearing one another’s burdens. We have a community around us that loves us so well. Our friends are gracious to let us know when we are in the wrong and walk with us to make things right. They have given their time, energy, and finances to help us follow the Lord.
We live surrounded by a rich family of faith, for which we are extremely grateful. Our mission is to bring real Christ-exalting love to people who have never experienced it before, homeless or not. Half of the work set before us is aimed at shifting paradigms and bringing people who have never experienced homelessness into community alongside the homeless.
Friends, we need your love and want to give you ours. There is much to be done and we need your help. The month of May will be spent meeting with people interested in taking part in this adventure with us. We are also making plans to build a tiny house on wheels to pull around town and help Midland catch our vision. It is going to be a lot of fun and we will definitely need extra hands. If there is a particular way you want to get involved, please let us know.
Our current needs:
· People- We need people with hearts for serving others. Different gifts and talents will bring this all together. We need prayer warriors, advisors, artists, craftsmen, financial gurus, and more. Your ideas are welcome to help us cultivate home.
· Land- We will be living at a leased RV space temporarily. In order to begin building a community to lift people off the streets, we need a place of our own.
· Funding- A sizeable amount of capital will be required to bring this vision to life. We are working on site plans, budgeting, and sustainability. We want you to be invested in this with us, not just with your money, but with your time and your talents. We hope you choose to support us because your hearts understand the deep need for our homeless friends to come home.
· Praise for a great report on our Pastor’s cancer treatment. Continue to pray for healing.
· This is our last week and it is so bittersweet. Every time one of our neighbors tells us they will miss us, our hearts ache. We are also excited to get home to our community and get to work. Pray for a week full of sweetness as we say “see you later”.
· There are several of our neighbors who we have been witnessing to. Pray for new relationships to step in and continue sharing the Good News with our lost friends.
· It is going to be an adjustment to live in our new space. Pray for the transition and that we remain content while planning for the future of The Field’s Edge.
· Pray for God to bring about the relationships and connections we will need to see this through.
We just launched our Facebook page! Please follow us for continued updates and a closer look at what we are up to!