Intern Impact is a blog series that highlights past interns and gives them the opportunity to reflect on the way God has used their time at One Hope to impact their lives and ministries.
My first night in Tulsa it thundered and shook. I slept in the top bunk of a bed that would soon belong to the eldest Ugandan addition of the Boone family. Prayers were bringing him home, and prayers had brought me here. As the restless creation stirred in unison with my anticipations, I remembered dedicating this new adventure to the Lord. I prayed He would manifest Himself to me in ways I had not experienced before and empty me of myself.
God was faithful to my prayers. It was busier, hotter, and harder than I expected, and more full of love and raw genuine fellowship than I ever experienced. We were in the church everyday working, loving, talking, reading, writing, playing, living alongside the people Jesus so cherished to love. Details and routines faded in the light of the heart connections we were building with the families around us and one another. I remember being so shocked. When had church become such a separation from the lives of people who need it most? This church, squeezed in between the houses of a struggling North Tulsa neighborhood, is a safe place, and I love being there.
What Springs of Grace does well is pursue people like Christ pursued us. Canvassing the neighborhoods to sign up kids for various tutoring and sports programs is one of the most simple and tangible expressions of Christ’s love. It is hot, and tiring, and the doors seem to stretch on forever, but the trudging and knocking, and sharing, and the picking kids up and carving time out, and the creating of stimulating educational, athletic, and artistic avenues of expression symbolically reminds me of the greatest One who came and shared and carved, carved out of His very self. He began a relationship with us, and that’s what He calls us to make with His lost image bearers…the ones who need communion with their Maker. We dare not think we can begin to save them, for we journey on with a strength that is not our own, but touching them with Christ’s empowering love, and showing them that our Lord is a sacrificial Master, is the fulfillment of our highest joy. He is a faithful God rich in mercy and the outstretched arms we offer stem from hearts in fresh remembrance of our own restoration.
When I hear people accolade my noble “missionary” work here, I can only think how I am the missioned soul. Pride is a brutal thief, blinding the eyes from a right view of God and crippling the heart from proper fellowship with Him. It renders me tired and worn down because I am poorly constructing an image versus living as an image of Someone far greater…someone that stuns me with a love so deep I can only pour it out. I am the graced one to be a recipient of such patient mercy, to be in a church body that runs alongside me, and to see first hand God’s rich worth even in broken situations.
I’ve learned that one of the ways we most love someone is by telling them our answered prayers for them. A friend once shared how my coming was an answer to her prayer and reminded me that it was God who appointed me specifically to come and build the relationships I hold so dear and touch the hearts I didn’t even know existed. In turn, she touched my heart more than she knows. Because, those of us who have tasted Christ’s grace long to be used by Him. We want to be near Him and reflect His glory. My roommate asked the 6th grade Sunday School class what they thought “weight of glory” meant. One of the boys replied, “It’s like God is gloriously heavy.”
I couldn’t have said it better, for I’ve experienced His heaviness here…in this cloud of witnesses.