In the midst of a broken world where tragedies are way too common place, what can we do? Certainly, we need to pray for those affected by the horrible events in Orlando, but can we do more than pray?
The evil and violence and destruction can be overwhelming and paralyzing.
Evil actions such as the mass shootings in Orlando remind us that we live in a broken and evil world.
Rather than hiding from the world, we are called to bring faith, love, and hope to the world around us – in spite of how broken people are.
For the second year in a row, I have had the opportunity to lead a short term mission team to serve in an urban environment in the midwest. Last year my Gateway Austin Go team served in Minneapolis. This year, we have been serving in Chicago with Center for Student Missions.
Last year, the parents and team leaders were concerned about our trip to Minneapolis due to threats on the Mall of America being made by the terror group Al-Shabaab. This is the same group which targeted its recruiting efforts on the disenfranchised Somali immigrants who lived in Minneapolis.. We were going to Minneapolis in part to serve Somali immigrants.
As a result, we shifted our prayers. We began to see our efforts as preventative. If we could serve these at-risk kids and show them our love and the love of Jesus, perhaps we could keep them from choosing to go in a destructive direction.
This year, our parents and our team leaders were concerned with going to serve in Chicago where there has been an epidemic of violence and homicides, especially on the West side of Chicago. We have been serving at-risk kids on the West side of Chicago.
Now, we have been teaming with local agencies and experts to know the best ways to serve and the safest ways to serve. We have been staying the night at North Park University, serving during the day, and serving with organizations that have been really effective in making a difference and mobilizing volunteers.
We have served with great organizations including:
Our prayers have been for the beautiful people of Chicago and for the amazing people who live and serve here all year long! In addition to our prayers, we have been so grateful to play even a small part in the lives of some of families in poverty, some of those who are homeless, and some of the children who are far too familiar with guns and violence at ages 5 and 6.
Our teens have been serving so hard and so effectively and with such maturity for their age.
Serving can make more of a difference than we think – especially in the lives of those willing to serve.
When we are overwhelmed with all of the needs around us, choose to meet the needs of those in front of us.
Our hope is to return to Austin with a renewed sense of purpose in making a difference.
Rather than feeling guilty for all that we have, we need to use what we have to make a difference.
As a teenager on a trip similar to this, the words of Jesus gave me a sense of purpose for my life: “To much is given, much is expected.”
We need to pray for those affected by evil, serve those affected by evil, and seek to bring love to the lives of those who hate in order to prevent destruction.
We will always have brokenness and tragedy, but we should not give up on bringing “God’s Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.”
To join us with Serve South Austin, join us on Sunday, June 26th at 5pm.
“How Do We Know God Cares” – a message for times of tragedy