Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baptized in the River

I spend most summers doing crazy, pointless, childish things with the youth group. No wrong things, just ... you know off the wall things. It's how we bond together as a group and build memories. But this summer, we managed to do something that was actually meaningful. 

I have been blessed to come to know Anthony, who is one of the many hard working people who are concerned with correcting the social injustice, provide for the needs, and the futures of the people of this earth. Brother Anthony has worked to make a difference in his community, first in Memphis and now in North Little Rock.

I like Anthony's outlook on life and the ministry. He says, "I show up and make myself available to be used by God to help the poor and homeless know Him and make Him known." And this the work of God! Paul said of God, "As it is written, 'He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.'" (2 Corinthians 9:9). 

This was also the mission for Jesus Christ when He came to earth. "And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, 'Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'" (Luke 4:17-21). And this is the very work that we were blessed enough to be involved in this summer.

We came to River City Ministry on a Saturday, a very busy Saturday. On this Saturday RCM was hosting their...

And, understandably, everyone was exhausted when we arrived. That night we talked about our plans for the week, had a little fun, and went to bed.... eventually. We might have watched a little (or a lot) of LOST before we hit the hay. (whatever, think of me what you will, I love the show and think it has a great message about people changing their lives, overcoming or submitting to evil, yada yada. If you don't like my choice of TV get your own Youth Group and watch Dr. Quinn or something... rant over).

They call this The Lostsupper lol... *Wipes away a tear from being so amused*... it's ok, I'm over it

The next day began with a prayer walk. And if you have never been on one, you should. We just asked people if we could talk with them about God and if they had any struggles they would like the Lord to help them with, and then we pray with those who are willing. Great way to get to know people, share the Lord, and get out of that stupid shell we tend to build up around ourselves. 

Then we were able to worship with the River City congregation. Beautiful to hear people whose lives are so full of hardship sing with such love and appreciation to the Lord. It was a very exciting, moving, uplifting, and Spirit filled experience. The young man who brought the message is an amazing young man. Although life has not been easy for him, he works mightily for the Lord. He is wonderful at connecting with others and sympathizing with those who are in pain. He is a great example of what young people can do for the Lord if the have a desire to serve Him.
I'm not sure how well you can see the artwork over the baptistery, but it is the beautiful work of a young lady who received assistance from River City Ministry, and is now working with them to help others.
After the close of the service, we went to The River City Ministry building for lunch. 

More artwork by the people who make River City Ministry meaningful
Here we were able to mingle with the people, get to know them, learn from their experiences, talk and listen about God. We were also able to help serve the meals to these wonderful people. Several congregations prepare and bring food to RCM each Sunday. And boy can they cook, take a look.

Afterwords, we prepared for the days to come, had a group devotional, and went to bed even later.
We began the next day with another prayer walk (it was over 100 degrees, not complaining... just saying), and we were able to talk to several of the people who had visited the day before. The wonderful people we were blessed to meet taught us such a lesson about honesty, trust, and humility. So often we hide our problems and struggles from our brethren, or even try to hide them from the Lord, but not the wonderful men and women we met that day. These wonderful children of God knew how to share, knew how to lay it all before the Lord, and how to let go of worry once it was in the Lord's hands. We all need to learn how to do that.
Then came the support letters, because it takes money to do anything. And there were a lot of letters too.

I think it gave us all a real look at the work. It's not all as fun and instantly gratifying as talking with someone who wants to know the Lord, helping someone who is in a jam, putting food on someones table, or growing together in love. Some of the work is just tedious and boring, but it's all a part.  

About half way through the day, Anthony came to tell us that one of the men he had been studying with was ready to give his life God. Praise the Lord! And one of our young men were able to help baptize him into Christ. What a wonderful and joyful experience!

We were able to help with lunch once again, and I was able to share the lesson before lunch (Soul food before belly food). 

Monday night we were able to be a part of a rehabilitation program. Brother Don has labored with his wife and others to create a friendly, loving, Christ focused, and judgment free group meeting for people struggling with any kind of addiction. It was once again wonderful to learn such honesty and such faith in the Lord.

Tuesday was much like Monday, but one of our young men, Shawn, brought the lesson of the day.

He did a wonderful job and i am very proud of him. And, Shawn also got to help baptize someone that day! Two more people were added to the Lord that day!

That evening we helped with the Vacation Bible School for the children in the area, which was lots of fun and very rewarding.  

And just when we thought we were all done, a lady knocked on our door and asked for a Bible Study! How often does that happen?! Of course I was happy to do this, and I pray that this lady and her family continue on their road to growing closer to God

Wednesday, after another morning of stuffing and addressing envelopes, lunch, and a lesson, we took several vans full of children to the local water park (and the owners even gave us the tickets!). EVERYONE had fun.

When we got back, showered, and put on dry clothes, I got soaked again, because there was another baptism! It was a wonderful, wonderful day. And Anthony, Keith, and the other hard workers at RCM treated us to Mexican (my favorite!) and... made sure I would not forget it. 
It's as blurry as all get out, but I got covered in whip cream
And even though our schedule seemed busy, we were not involved in all the things that River City Ministry does on a daily basis! They also have a program to help people find jobs and better the marriages/family lives which they have every weekday. they have housing programs, they pick up the children who come to the events, Bible studies with those who are interested, etc.

River City Ministries helped us to become immersed in the work of the Lord (for those of you wondering if the title would ever come into play). I think we all have grown though the experience, and that it has awakened a desire in us to serve the Lord. Thank you so much to all the people who work with River City, and all those who provide the work to be done. God bless you all.

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