SERVING IN BALTIMORE: DAY 3
The Church at LifePark is partnered with The Church of the Harbor to spread the gospel in the largely unchurched community of Essex, Maryland. The mission trip is both challenging and life-changing. The Church of the Harbor consistently serves their neighbors through mission projects, feeding hungry and inviting people to church.
LifePark members Matt Pinto, Marianne Caldwell, Jeff Schrupp and Roanna Miller are serving on the latest mission trip. Marianne Caldwell sent us this update from Day 3 of the Spring 2019 mission trip to Baltimore:
Greetings once again from our team in Essex at the Church of the Harbor!
After sleeping off our filling meal from last night we gathered for devotion led by Matt Pinto. In Mathew 14 he taught us that Jesus came to point us to the kingdom of heaven here and in eternity, however Christ also demonstrated the kingdom of heaven while on earth, so with physical and spiritual nourishment we prepared to hit the streets.
Today is event day. We drove to the same neighborhood to continue our final invites and conversations to the hearts of people living behind so many drawn curtains with most often a dog behind the door. Due to yesterday’s rain and the more than expected conversations our team was blessed to have in the last two days, the aim today was bent more towards the “numbers game” of invitations offered, unless a gospel conversation was strongly prompted in our hearts.
As we parked the car and got out the sun peaked from behind the clouds and from that point on blue skies, bird’s songs, and more Saturday movement of people out and about seemed to lift the “spiritual cloud” to those we encountered who we all agreed seemed receptive to a “free cookout in the community TODAY!” We praise the Lord for answered pray of glorious weather and open hearts. After two hours of invitations, conversations, and a brief lunch we switched gears to “event mode.”
Jeff and Matt aided Joy with a trip to Costco in record time. Roanna and I cleaned the picnic tables under the pavilion. Soon, church members arrived and many were setting up tables for the burgers, dogs,and snow cones. A few of the church member’s kids were waiting on the inflatable bounce house and slide to be brought out remarking, “we can’t wait!” While waiting they had a “whoopee cushion” and they needed a willing participant to give them a few laughs so I obliged them, reminding me that children are universally eager to have fun. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in the joy and social behavior of the children of this church community with the ones in the row house community. Christ in the home truly does make a visible difference in families.
As time neared for the cookout I reviewed my notes in hopes I could remember some names of the 14 or so people I had the opportunity to share the gospel with during the door knocking. By name I began praying for Ernie, Vicky, Maria, Tanya, Pat, Brandon, Art, George, John, Marvin, Lauren, Alan, Elana, and Saul who informed me his name was a Bible name! The Church of the Harbor team was very efficient in set up. The smell of burgers on the grill went out and the people came in. Matt and Roanna made hundreds of snow cones and Jeff guarded the gate of the jump castle for the wee ones. It was beautiful to experience demonstrated love in this community for the sake of the gospel and the building up of the church in a community much different than our own yet both with the same spiritual needs for the gospel … to encounter a loving God who desires relationship with us and transformation of us.
After the event a restroom overflow used during the event and in our quarters meant us moving to the pastor’s basement for the night. There during our devotion Jeff recapped Ephesians for us and in our discussion it was obvious from our varied strategies and approaches to people that there is no “right” way to evangelize because various things are what brought people to the event. Reminding me personally that God wants my willing obedience and The Spirit determines with who and where they are cast, planted, watered and take root.
Personally new to LifePark, an added blessing has been getting to know this team as a small family. I am thankful for all and for Jeff as our wonderful team leader. What a weekend to remember and celebrate His triumphal entry into Jerusalem leading to the cross and His resurrection and the joy to take the good news.
For more information on our regional partnership with the Church of the Harbor, visit us at churchatlifepark.org/baltimore.