Okay, so here is the skinny. I have been saying I want to live in Portland, and my opportunity has come knocking. Most would think that since I am going on a long-term mission trip, that I would be doing some charity work, building houses, feeding the poor, etc. That may very well be what I end up doing in Portland, God only knows! However, my job description mentions nothing of the sort.
You might be thinking, “Why in the world would a missions organization send students for an entire summer into another U.S. city just to live?” That, my friends, is a great question to ponder. Upon first hearing of the Parachute Project I too was baffled. It seems almost counter-intuitive to allow students to do whatever they please for an entire summer on someone else’s ticket. Wouldn’t they just be lazy, mull around, and do practically nothing for the Kingdom? Well, let me tell you there is a new movement or approach, if you will, to how Christians are seeing the world. In a post-modern culture, the church today is struggling to keep up. It is drowning in dogmatic legalism ( <-- redundant?) and is currently doing close to nothing in terms of growing the Kingdom and making Jesus’ name known in the hearts of Americans. What a sad thing to admit, yet a humbling thing to acknowledge. Instead of struggling in the vortex of doing things the old-fashioned way, pockets of Jesus followers are coming through the woodwork. These are the people who see the problem clearly and are doing something to change it. A couple of these people are the authors of a recent read called The Tangible Kingdom. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay attempt to lay the problems out for everyone to see and offer ideas on how to make a change for His name’s sake. One point emphasized heavily in the first fifty pages is tension. This argument resonates within me:
Oftentimes, if you decide to embrace the tension and move forward, this is your first battle. To move forward, we can’t keep everything we’ve always had. We have to pick what to take, what is absolutely necessary, and leave behind some things that have been important to us. What used to provide comfort may now only take up space or be a hindrance to getting where we need to go.
Yes, as you can tell, this new way of living The Way is stirring tension because it often seems to go against what we know and what the church has been about in the past. But if the old way of doing things is working against the church, does it not make sense to change the way we live out the gospel? Just a thought.
All this to say that this is the new approach to life I am going to practice in Portland (well, really from here on out). In a way, I think my appointment to this project is going to be inconceivably more challenging than just building houses and feeding the poor. It is abstract and there is no handbook or how-to study. Discovering a new rhythm of life will be my “job” this summer. In fact, the coordinators of this Portland Parachute Project say that our “mission is simple: live missionally by building relationships and seeping into the cracks and crevices of the culture.” Cultivating the spiritual soil and living a missional life in community.
And well there is no easy transition to this point but I feel it must be shared. It is a huge part of the whole process. Finances. There, I said it. And I hate bringing it up. It is a touchy subject for many, including myself. For this part of the journey I am relying fully on God’s provision, meaning I know I am not capable of following through with this whole thing if I don’t trust God completely to aide me in raising support. As I said, I hate it, but He has asked me to do this, so I will remain faithful. Many of my family and friends know I need to raise $2350 by May 1st. If you did not know, well there you go. Not an easy task for a college student with no current job. My trust in the Lord here is knowing that you will all be able to support me, not only with money to go, but also with encouragement to go and be a doer of the gospel. So what does this support look like? Well, there are a few ways you can be involved in sending me to Portland!
1. Buy a t-shirt! Who doesn’t love a good cotton blend with a quirky design, inspired by yours truly? The price is to be determined very soon. As soon as I know, you will know.
2. Come to my grill-out party! This is also to be determined (end of March, beginning of April?), but the idea is to have a great time with delicious friends and lovely food. That came out wrong. There will be delicious food and tons of fun with lovely friends. Again, I will keep you posted.
3. Make a donation in my name through Go Now Missions online. It is a simple three-step process on their website. I would love for all of you to take advantage of the first two options, but if that is not possible, or if you are just feeling extra generous, please support me in this way.
Dear friends, I consider you already a part of my journey to Portland. Through all of my relationships with you I am encouraged to be a carrier AND a doer of the gospel for Jesus’ name. Nothing would make me more joyful than to know from each of you I have your support in this mission. You are loved and cherished by me, and most importantly by Our Creator.
Peace and Blessinz
P.S.- You all should know that I could never say anything without a good joke to go along.