I’ve been back in the Midwest for approximately 32 hours, and I can think of nothing else but my summer being a student missionary in the Pacific Northwest. I think of Tacoma, from the Hilltop to North End. I think of The Pathway Church, and the family I didn’t know I had there until I arrived. I think of the Interns, the best team I could have ever asked for. And I think of Jesus and the way he used this city to stir up my heart.
I think of things I Learned.
I learned that the Acts 2 church does exist, and it looks very different than what I could of ever imagined. I saw the church together, but it wasn’t necessarily in the church building. It was at the park, by the water, on the streets, in the houses, and it was together on Sunday mornings at a building that they gathered in to worship. I saw the church meeting together, loving together, and giving together. Meeting together in Intentional Communities at least one time a week and sometimes more. I saw them loving together, on each other during tough days and on their community every day. I saw them giving together. Giving their time, money, food, and cars. To each other, to us interns, and to people they barely knew.
I learned more about grace than I ever could explain. As hard as this summer was, my head was that much harder. I was determined week one that I could do my job on my own, without help so that I wouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone. It was in that weakness and stubbornness the Lord showed me his grace yet again. It was in those holes, that he showed me that even after all these years I am still in great need of his grace. And after seeing my continual need of grace, I saw his great love in giving it to us.
I think of Love.
At the Nativity House. (The Nativity House is a day shelter for the homeless and also has emergency overnight housing)
Day after day we were enamored by people that walked through that building. From 89 to 23, I saw people in all areas of life. And every single one of them solidified the love of our Father. I saw the way Mara, the director of the Nativity House poured his love out over them. I saw the way Johnny the chef acted in the Lords love through his words, prayers and exhortation of all the guests that came into his contact. And I saw the way that love gave light to the eyes of the hopeless, and I saw the way that love gave the next step to those who are stigmatized to be at the end of their means.
I think of The Pathway.
They lifted us interns back to God consistently. They guided us, they nurtured us, and they loved us in a way that I can scarcely explain. They treated us as family, taking us in for meals, laundry and so much more. They showed us community in a way not seen by many. They made a summer internship, a lifelong friendship.
I think of the Interns
I have never ever worked with a group that has loved so well. And from the very beginning Adam (The Pathway's Associate Pastor and overseer of the summer interns) told us that he didn’t choose one member of this group, but that God chose us all. This I believe because of the way our dynamic was so beautifully organized. From our desires and gifts to our very working styles it all just fit. I saw them express their love in music, service, leadership and action. They loved selflessly and they loved endlessly. They loved through weakness, stubbornness, and they loved in times when it was hard to love at all.
And I think of Humility and Redemption.
When I first came to the Pacific Northwest I guess I internally believed that I was going to a place where Jesus wasn’t found. That I was going into the dark. And that it was up to me to save them. That completely changed the day I stepped off that plane. I came to a city alight with the redeeming love of Christ. A city that like all of us, that is just a work in progress. God humbled me, and he encouraged me. I saw that he chose me to help serve a city that he has already saved. A city that he is already doing the work for and a city that is growing brighter as the days pass by. He showed me that just as he has chosen me, that he has chosen them. He has chosen them and he will continue to seek after them waiting for them to come home.
Tacoma was nothing like what I expected it to be. And for that I am so thankful. Thankful for God to use the unexpected of this lovely northwest city to teach me, love me, humble me, redeem me, and change me. I will never know to what extent God used me to bring change to Tacoma, but I can see for certain the way God used Tacoma to bring change to me.