Friday, February 1, 2013

Gangster's Paradise

Last week, I did something spontaneous.  For those of you with kids, you can appreciate why this is such a big deal.  My husband works a double on Fridays, so I am home all day and night with the kids.  But I heard that there was a youth event at the church my husband and I used to minster at, and I really wanted to go.  So I called my friend and asked her to go with me, then called my brother-in-law to come babysit the kids.  And I actually pulled it off- I went out on a Friday night!

Going back to New Hope Church in Albany was incredible.  These were the people I spent 5 years laughing and crying with, praying and fasting with, learning and growing with, and serving the community with.  I looked around at the youth group, which was filled with kids I used to teach in Sunday School and suddenly ached at not still being there.  There is so much I miss about it.  I miss the strong sense of family that you feel when you are with them.  I miss the thick blend of cultures that is so prevalent there.  Being in an inner city church, you see a wide variety of people and it's a great feeling to be around and learn about so many different people.  For me it was Little House on the Prairie meets Dangerous Minds.  I arrived as a white girl, and left as a white girl who was able to make mac n cheese and rice and beans, correctly use phrases such as "mad hot", "yo, that's wack", and "talkin' smack"....and I even learned how to correctly do this:

                                                               (yes, this is really me)

But it was so much more than that.  The pastor and his wife that we served under became invaluable to me.  They did more than teach me...they showed me.  They showed me how to pray.  They showed me how to fast.  They showed me how to take care of a church and a community.  In fact, I didn't even get to see Pastor because there was a fire in their neighborhood that night and in his true fashion, he was busy meeting whatever needs he could of the people involved.  I was broken down and rebuilt while I was there.  I am eternally indebted to the work they did on my soul.  

And I wished I was back there.

The feeling didn't last long...just long enough to pierce my heart a little.  No matter how much I love them or how much I believe in what they are doing, I can't go back.  God's Hand keeps us moving along on the path He has for us.  The past is always a tempting place to go, especially when your present is difficult.  But we must keep moving forward- keep pressing on so we can fulfill all He has for us to do.  Don't be fooled into thinking that going backward will make things better...don't ever forget that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can imagine the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.  So you need to keep walking forward.

I am grateful for the time I spent at New Hope...and now I must take what I learned with me and give it to others.  I need to use my past to push my future.  You cannot stay idle and you cannot live off of yesterday's bread.  You need a fresh Word and a fresh touch for today.  It doesn't matter how you got here or even whether or not you want to be here- you ARE here.  So take it and live it with all you've got. will not end in vain.

**In dedication to Keith and Susan Davey.  Your lives taught me my greatest lessons.  Your love and sacrifice are reaping a harvest so vast that you will never be able to measure it in this life.  I love you...and I've always got your back.  

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