At one time or another, I was told that life did not start until after college. This assumption evolved into a natural theology as I assumed everyone’s reality was after high school came college and only after college can life start being lived.
But if the sayings “to travel is to arrive” and “the journey is the destination” are true, then life does not start after graduation—life is happening (-ing verb, not -ed verb) whether I want to acknowledge it or not. This is why I decided to spend 9 weeks in Grand Isle, Louisiana (not only because it’s a hopping place to be). On this tiny island at the tip of the boot, I am working under one of the best and most effective church planters in South Louisiana, Mr. John Boss, while putting on a Children’s Day Camp, assisting with youth, and doing all sorts of other activities here around the island with his team of 7 missionaries at First Baptist Church of Grand Isle. I do not want to wait until I get out of Ruston to finally learn how to witness, share my faith, and actually be a Christian.
I can’t possibly expect my restless spirit to hold off until then.
Even so, as a college student, I have the opportunity to do almost anything with my summer. And as a Louisiana Tech student, I have about three months to do whatever I can to get myself ahead in my already-budding career. Coming to this island that almost no one has ever heard of, in a secluded place that you only come to if you are purposefully looking for it (and sometimes not even then), this summer seems almost counterproductive for my future.
But I would beg to differ. Let me explain.
About four summers ago, I was a 14-year girl about to enter the very scary realm of Anacoco High School. During that particular summer, I went to New Orleans on a week-long mission trip at a center named the Carver Center. This center had become a place where children in the community would come to escape the gang-ridden and drug-infested home life which makes up the majority of inner-city New Orleans. The Carver Center hired a gaggle of excited summer missionaries each year with the purpose of loving the kids with the love of Christ. Each of the missionaries loved every child and teen instantly. The missionaries acted quite unlike any group of college students I had ever met—they seemed to be radiating with something that could not ever be extinguished, even in the sinful city of NOLA. I followed these strange missionaries around like a shadow during the duration of the week in hopes that whatever foreign happiness they had, whatever secret they knew, I would learn it and be just as happy.
They possessed no such secret.
There was not something in the water that made these summer missionaries love like no one else I have ever met. There is, nonetheless, something about living out one’s faith, even when it is hard and even when it is not popular, which that makes it addictive. I found that at first the thought of telling someone else about Jesus is terrifying, but I would have to allow myself to be uncomfortable in order to truly experience how great it is to witness.
That was the high that these summer missionaries were on: they could not get enough of this Jesus that spoke mercy, grace, and love into their lives.
I do not believe being a summer missionary in Grand Isle will grant me more grace than the next person or that God will love me more because of a summer dedicated to Him. I do believe, on the contrary, that a summer spent in Grand Isle will challenge me to depend solely on prayer and His Word because I have nothing else to give myself or the kids here.
I cannot give these kids anything else but Jesus because I know nothing else will work.
That was the not-so-secret secret that the summer missionaries from the Carver Center lived out. They had nothing but the love of Jesus to give those kids. Even if I could give everything I have—time, love, money (Ha! Like I have any of that)—it would all run out too quickly and be nothing. But if I reveal to these children that Jesus has something, His love and grace, that can never run out, how could I not share it with them? I must tell them.
Every Christian has this same desire to share, and the biggest heart break I have experienced so far is that not everyone actively participates in this rush—even, to my greatest disappointment, me.
I encourage you to share then in this addiction with me as I share my “week in review” with you (edition uno will be posted tomorrow). Stay tuned!