I have been writing this over the course of a couple weeks so forgive me if it seems a little disjointed. I have been encouraged by those of you who have asked me to continue writing even though my time is scarce. Writing really helps me to process my own heart so I am thankful that it is of value to my readers as well.
We have entered into a letter of agreement with the donor of the land or our village. While this is nonbinding, it is the first step in the process to deed the property over The Field’s Edge. The next step is to present our case for Spaceport variance before the City Council and survey the property. After that we should be ready to sign a contract and the land will officially be ours. The variance having to go before City Council is a pretty big obstacle so we’d appreciate your prayers that it would happen quickly and go smoothly.
We still haven’t heard anything from the City about leasing the property downtown for our community garden. There are a lot of balls in the air and in other peoples’ courts. It makes me feel like I can’t accomplish anything which isn’t really true, I guess I am just impatient.
God is sending us people to come alongside us in our mission for which we are deeply thankful. It is so encouraging to have brothers and sisters joining us to carry out the calling God has given. We look forward to having more opportunities to bring people into this work when our volunteer opportunities open up, but know that if you heart is being drawn to this work, there is a place for you. We need your time, talent, and treasure!
There continues to be a cloud hanging over me. It comes and goes but it’s like this weight that I can’t shake. I am kind of a steady easygoing guy so the swings of emotion and tasks that I do on a daily basis are getting to me. Fortunately, this past weekend was tremendously restful and I thank God for that. Regardless, I have to constantly turn to Ephesians 6 to remind myself that this battle is much larger than it seems, and that I am not alone in it.
A crucial component of our ministry is mental health. One of my faith heroes Charles Spurgeon struggled with crippling depression throughout his career as the “Prince of Preachers”. There were days when he couldn’t get out of bed and his wife Susannah would stand by the door and sing hymns and pray. He suffered with chronic pain from gout, rheumatism, and more. I am in no way saying that I am currently dealing with the same level of pain and depression he did, but the Lord sustained Spurgeon through far worse and He will sustain me as well.
On that same note I want to be part of the movement to remove the stigma from mental health. It is hard to understand why something beyond our control is looked at with such contempt from the outside. People ask us all the time what percentage of the homeless have mental health problems and our response is always that every person on the planet has mental health problems. Not to diminish the more severe cases, but to point to that fact that every person at some time in their life deals with anxiety, depression, trauma etc. These are natural responses to living in a world that has been marred by sin. My point is that we should not be ashamed of mental health struggles and be able to seek help. As Christians, we should be understanding of mental health issues and be known as friends and advocates to those suffering.
That said, there was a time in my life that I suffered from severe anxiety and PTSD. Sometimes that flares up, but now more than anything I often feel myself being drawn down the rabbit hole of depression. The work that I have been called to is emotionally ravaging and on top of getting far too little sleep, sometimes it gets to me, but I can always turn to verses like Ephesians 6:10-20 and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord is with me and has given me what I need to stand in the face of these attacks. Friends may I set you free from the thought that you need to keep your mental health a secret? Know that Briana and I are always willing to help you shoulder your burdens.
Appropriately, our sermon this Sunday was on encouraging one another from Colossians 2. Don’t get me wrong, God has given us the gift of medicine to treat certain issues, however, I believe that we can make significant strides in mental healthcare if we build relationships close enough to truly encourage one another in the Lord. I say this from the perspective of someone who has struggled with things in isolation. Spoiler alert: it’s terrible and doesn’t work! Guys we talk about community a lot, but it is truly the balm for so many issues. If we are to encourage one another, how can we do so deeply and regularly without an established relationship? How can we ease the burdens of our brothers and sisters we do not know? If we want to change the world for Christ and remedy some of the biggest problems in our society, we need to be homemakers and community builders. To love each other, we must know each other.
After living at Community First in really close community with people, it has been a struggle for us to live out in the country away from most of our close relationships. We have tasted the goodness of Christian community and it drives us that much more to build it in our own city. When I take a minute to look towards the people we serve on the streets, in an environment that is totally anti-community, my heart hurts that so many people feel alone, but I am also amazed at the few people who have sought to build community even in their circumstances. They may be houseless, but I believe that others in our community even with large houses are more homeless than they. Our mission is to both the physically and spiritually homeless. Let us show you the way home.
· Progress with City and County Government
· JM’s parents in SE Asia visiting W and M
· Direction in preparing to plant a church