Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting Out My Bubble

About two years ago, I came across a book by Matthew Barnette called “The Cause Within You.” When we lived in AZ years ago, I had heard about a project he was working on in LA, so it caught my attention. I got the book and began to read it on an airplane as I traveled back to AZ to take care of some difficult family business.

In his book, Barnette tells the story of his dream to build a mega church in LA similar to his Dad’s church in Phoenix. He was just 20 years old. But God had a different plan. As his dream crashed down around him, God gave Barnette a new vision--a vision to make a difference in the run down, crime ridden inner city neighborhoods of LA. Barnette’s ministry, and the Dream Center was born. Barnette purchased a huge abandoned hospital and began to renovate it. Now, 18 years later, the renovations are almost complete, and the ministry is thriving.

The Dream Center is a volunteer driven organization that finds and fills the needs of over 50,000 individuals and families each month. (That’s the population of the whole county where I live!) They do this through mobile hunger relief and medical programs, residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, job skills training, life skills counseling, basic education, Bible studies and more. They work to meet people where they are, to bring them hope and a way off the streets.

They’re also equipping others to serve. The Dream offers short-term mission trips to folks who want to see their operation up close. As they volunteer at the Dream Center, they gain insight and skills that they can take back to their own communities.

During my trip to AZ, I continued to read the book every evening after long hard days of appointments, waiting in lines, watching hopeless people going through the motions of basic survival, and I realized I live in a bubble… a very comfortable, bubble. I’ve never been hungry a day in my life. I’ve never had to wonder how I would keep a roof over my children’s heads.  I’ve never had to worry about keeping my children safe at night. I’ve never even had to ask for help for my family’s daily survival.

Yet I have a family member who seems to have chosen a lifestyle very different from mine, and this causes me daily heartache. When I read this quote in the book, I knew I needed to do something with that pain:

Your pain can become the greatest motivation to embrace your cause. Does your pain crush you, or do you let it mold you and motivate you for positive results? Do you let your suffering overwhelm you and undermine your life, or do you use it as a means for growth?  

I don’t know about you but I truly want to use my pain as a means for growth! And in the days and weeks following that trip to AZ, I finished the book, and felt God tugging at my heart to go to the Dream Center… To take a team of women who live in bubbles too to the Dream Center. But, I am not a big risk taker. I kinda like my bubble. So I sat on that calling. I sat on it for 6 months. I knew I should take it to our mission coordinator, but I knew as soon as I did, I’d have to go—I’d have to get out of my bubble.

Finally, one day, I found myself standing in front of our missions coordinator, and the words came tumbling out of my mouth before I could stop them. And guess what… I’m going to the Dream Center. In fact, I’ve already been there. I visited there last FebruaryI’ve seen a glimpse of what goes on there and it is an amazing operation.

Our church is organizing a mission trip in early April, and I will be on that trip. I’m going to get out of my bubble and serve in the Food Truck mobile food distribution, Adopt-A-Block outreach, Under the Bridge feeding program, Foster Care Intervention, and so much more. In fact, they will try to bring us in to almost every ministry The Dream Center offers – all in just a week’s time. The Dream Center’s Short Term Mission page says, You Will Work Hard, Pray Loud and Come Home a Different Person. Am I scared? I am so scared. Will my heart be able to handle it? Will my body be able to keep up. My heart palpitates just thinking about it. But there’s a nagging calling from God that just won't go away. I can't not go. And by the grace of God, I will go.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!