Now that we are resting on the river, with time to reflect on the fiercely loving ministry of We Will Go, I (Jesse) can't help but play back the numerous faces we saw, served, and loved this past week.
During this last week, God gave me a gift that makes me cry the more I think about it. He gave me the ability to learn not just faces and stories, but the name of each person. In my interactions with the staff and Neighbors of We Will Go, I literally memorized the name of everyone I met. It wasn't my intention at first, but the Lord set our team up to share and experience His amazing love - through experiencing the power of a name.
As I experienced the power of knowing a name, I got to be a tiny example of the Father's love by knowing names (He made it so easy).
He says, "I have called you BY NAME and you are MINE!" [Isaiah 43:31]
This week was a powerful illustration of the reality that our Father knows everyone by name; not just His sheep, but also the ones who don't yet know they are His sheep.
In addition to learning the names of so many new friends, we had the pleasure of hearing the stories of many beautiful neighbors and missionaries.
Each story was different, and beautiful, because they were the stories of normal broken people who wanted to save the world, and heard the Father's call to love their neighbor first (sounds biblical, right?). We also got to connect with Neighbors, and hear some of the mess & beauty that they have gone through:
As a team we want to share a few of the names and stories of new friends who have impacted us so deeply.
This precious lady, Ashley, was one of the first We Will Go (WWG) missionaries we had the privilege of meeting this week. Before we started moving her slimmed-down belongings from one house into another across the street, she kindly sat on the floor of her home and shared her heart with us.
As she told us about her dream and invitation to relocate to India this fall, she also invited us into her heart in the here-and-now part of this journey. She told us about the trips and teams she's taken to India during recent years, but what she left me with was an impression of the perfectly-suited gift she's made of her heart to our Father as she asks Him often "how can I serve you with what I have in my hand right now?"
On Sunday, I was totally undone by Jeanette's prayer over me. During that prayer, and again a few days later when she pushed me on a porch swing while encouraging me to slow down & rest in Him, I felt God's heart for me (delivered with an English accent).
It's amazing how God uses all sorts of ways to touch us. Today, the key He used to open a space in my heart was a lovely young women with developmental disabilities who just wanted to be loved.
This little man is one of my favorite people in all the world.
In church, he worshipped and prayed alongside long-time Jesus knowers. His mom is a transformed woman, and his dad is a transformed man - both recently rescued from life on Farish street - where one danced in, and one managed a club.
Now, both of these precious people are living their true identities as a son and daughter of our Father, and their son is growing up in the gift of knowing who he is, and who his Father is.
Wow, I had such an incredible experience with Mr Hawkins! After going through collecting food and clothing with him I had an opportunity to hear more of his story.
While we talked, he shared that he really didn't want to continue his lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, and recognized that he needed to be mentored/discipled. He was so caught up with his own struggle that it had become hard for him to see beyond himself.
While I was praying for Mr Hawkins I felt led to invite him to ask the Lord for a game that Jesus would like to play with him. He did, and had one of the biggest smiles on his face as he invisioned it in his mind’s eye. Then he responded "but that's not a game", enthusiastically!
He then proceeded to tell me what he saw: "Jesus wants me to gather the children then bring them to Jesus."
I said, "you've got an evangelistic call on your life!"
His response was, "I can't be an evangelist. To do that you have to have a call".
Our hearts so connected. I told him, "Mr Hawkins you just got the call. It may be your life that could alter those kids' lives forever".
“Wooooowwwwwww”, was his response in a nutshell!
Through taking the time, and allowing Jesus to work, I was able to help Mr Hawkins go from discouragement in living his life by trying to be good to a lifestyle that recognizes that he has a purpose and destiny. The continued challenge that Jesus really pressed on my heart through this experience is: how many other Mr Hawkins' are in my life - and will I stop for the one?
On Monday we joined our neighbors at a church that provides a warm breakfast for those that would otherwise go without. As we sat at round tables with our neighbors, we shared more than stories and pictures of our children; we shared a moment in our lives.
I had planned on eating before we left - partially because I did not want to eat food that could have gone to someone in need - and partially because I didn’t know if I could stomach a boiled hot dog on a white bun. But the Lord humbled my heart with the kindest invitation – “would you eat this out of obedience?” In my simple ‘yes’ to Him, I heard His magnified ‘YES’ to my neighbors.
As I listened to Victor and Kimberly’s story of loss and hardship, I saw the deep sadness in their eyes of hopes deferred. In their holding to hope that someday things would be different, I realized it was my honor to share this simple meal with these precious hearts that refused to give up - even in the midst of a season of life that looks contrary to every dream their hearts have probably ever held.
In all of our introductions; in learning so many names and stories, we have realized that everyone...regardless of shape, age, race, creed or status...is valuable, and worth the courage needed to pursue with love.
Because we are His reward, and He is worthy of us all.
Blog by Team Jackson, compiled by Morgan Presley