Skip to main content

Mission Trip--My Experience

The teenagers and I walked back to the carport.  They got back on the roof, shaken up and disturbed.  I sat at the bottom of the ladder an absolute wreck.
How does someone leave kids—kids the ages of MY kids—at home, alone?!  Who even thinks that’s an option?!  I know how challenging, frustrating, and exasperating it can be.  I also know that leaving them to fend for themselves is not an option—ever, under any circumstances.
While I stood at the bottom of that ladder, my heart breaking , I received a text message from my husband.  My 18-month-old little girl was giddy over the video she was watching.  Before I had left town, I had filmed myself reading her favorite books and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus.  My baby girl was watching the video in the safety of her daddy’s lap in our comfortable home, and saying, “Again!  Again!” with a smile on her face.
Hearing that my kids were happy and safe in that moment was just perfect.  Realizing that the kids I’d just met didn’t have a daddy to hold them, a comfortable home to sit in, a mom who would/could take care of them was too much to bear.
It’s not fair.  It’s not fair that my baby girl was watching her mom sing to her on a video while that baby boy was left to fend for himself wearing only a diaper in a housing project in a community known as “Crackville.”  He’s learning now that no one can be trusted.  Permanent damage has already been done to his emotional development—damage that almost guarantees a troubled adult life—if he makes it that far.
We sing to God, “break my heart for what breaks yours.”  As I’ve ranted about before, when we sing to God, we’d better mean our words.  I mean it.  I mean for God to break my heart for what breaks his.  And it hurts.  And it wrecks me.  And the huge, white, sad eyes in that baby boy’s coal black face haunt me.  And I know it’s God breaking my heart for what breaks his.  And it’s awful, and it’s necessary.  I don’t know quite what to do with it, except to open my heart to be broken.
That night we sang a familiar song in worship.  It’s the only time I was emotionally impacted by the worship that week:
As I sang “Our God is healer,” I begged God to heal those kids of the abandonment, neglect, and injustice they’ve already suffered.
As I sang “Awesome in  power Our God,” I begged God to intervene in his power, to undo the emotional damage that’s already been done, to break through the chains of poverty and injustice that tie down these kids before they ever even have a chance.
As I sang “into the darkness you shine,” I begged for God to shine into the darkness of that housing project.
As I sang “out of the ashes we rise,” I prayed that God would raise up those kids out of the dead lives they live now and that await them.


  1. got goosebumps reading this....humans are cruel!!!!

    that song has been going thru my mind all week.

  2. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
    8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
    9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

    “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
    11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
    You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
    12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
    you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

    These are the things that haunt/drive/compel/haunt me! Break my heart for what breaks yours indeed!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Response to Charlottesville

Visiting our nation’s capital is an easy day trip for us, and how I chose to spend a precious vacation day this week.  I took pride in explaining the buildings and icons of my country to my children.  I am proud to be an American.  

But today, I am not proud.  
Today, I weep.

Four days ago, I saw the beautiful, infamous words “We the People” with my own eyes for the first time.  
Four days later, I am reminded of how far we still have to go to fully live into those words:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What has happened 63 miles from my home, in Jefferson’s beautifully-domed, colonnaded city, is far from perfect, just, or tranquil.
This is not what our founding fathers wanted for our country, nor is …

A Message to Graduates

I have been a Pastor to Students (The title has changed numerous times; the role remains.) in Powhatan, Virginia for roughly 12 years.  I daresay I've been ministering to teenagers in this community longer than many.

Over the last dozen years, I've gotten lots of cool opportunities to minister to teenagers in this area.   But one had always eluded me--speaking at a baccalaureate service.  My husband had done the honors.  Other great pastors in the area had as well.  Once, I'd offered the closing prayer.  

This week, that changed.  I had the distinct honor to share with the PHS Class of 2016 at their baccalaureate service.  It was a wonderful experience working with great students, parents, and school leaders.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity!!!

A few people missed it and have asked to see what I said, so here it is, ALL of it:

June 1999 I sat in this space for my Baccalaureate service.  Before I was a pastor at PCC, before I moved back to Powhatan to raise my family, …

Disillusionment of Adulthood

Now that I’m in my 30’s, I must confess to disillusionment.  Growing up, I had ideas of what adulthood would be like.  I’m here, and it’s not entirely what I’d imagined.
For starters, I remember growing up amidst all the drama that comes with, well, growing up.  The gossip.  The hurt feelings.  The misunderstandings.  The fights between friends.  The back-stabbing.  And I remember being told that it would get better.  I’m not sure who told me that, but they were clearly wrong.
The drama may look a little different.  The words may sound a little different.  But the anguish of relationships remains.
Adults hurt each other’s feelings—intentionally and unintentionally. Adults nitpick and cause fights over inconsequential issues. Adults gossip. Adults cry, scream, and pitch fits. Adults build relational alliances, competing in “us vs. them” relational war. Adults let issues build and exponentially swell until they explode. Adults rarely identify the actual issue instead of the presenting issue. Adul…