Last night, Shainu and I were invited to a banquet for Mission Year. Mission Year is an organization that sends young people to cities across the country to love and serve a particular neighborhood for a period of one year. So nine different cities in the US (one of them being Philadelphia) have Mission Year folks working in them right now. These folks get to a city, live together as a team, spend 30 hours a week volunteering in the community, and spend the rest of their time serving a local church and helping the church to engage the community. It was cool. One of our own, Pedro Reis, who was with Seven Mile Road in its infancy, is in Chicago finishing up a year with Mission Year. As a result of yesterday, I better understand what Pedro has been giving his life towards this year.
I left the night with one thought for our church. Why don’t we see our lives this way? What would happen at Seven Mile Road, if 20 of us, 10 of us, 5 of us had this same mentality? As I heard the stories of what teams of people had accomplished over the course of one year by giving themselves to God for the good of the city, I kept thinking, why couldn’t that happen with us?
Consider that we have been placed here by God. Acts 17:26 says that God has determined the times and “the exact places” where we should live. Think of that. You live in Philadelphia in 2010 because God determined this is where He wants you. When someone applies to Mission Year, you get placed in a city and you go there and live there and love there and serve there. Jesus has placed you in a city – to do the same thing. Have you considered that recently? Ultimately you’re not here because of that house or because of that job or because of that school. Those were the things God used to get you to the exact place he wanted you to be. So start there. What would your life look like if you realized you’re here at this exact time because God wants you here? He placed you in Philly.
Consider that we have been called to live in community. One of the neat features of Mission Year is that folks are grouped into a team and live in one house for a year. The speaker yesterday said that in the first month teammates usually feel like they’re going to die from the lack of privacy. But towards the end of the year, they find it difficult to go back to the individualistic lives that we Americans lead. Don’t we have the same opportunity here at Seven Mile – to live in community? We beat that drum all the time. What if the Gospel gave us a sense that in Jesus we had been adopted into a new family. A new father and new brothers and sisters. So now, the people at Seven Mile Road are not folks you go to church with – but members of your family and teammates on mission. I bet if we dove in deep, it would feel like death at first – but in the long run – we’d have a hard time ever living any other way.
Consider that we have been called to live on mission. It’s a cool thing when a select few will join with a certain organization and go on mission for a year. Yet the opportunity for every Christian at Seven Mile Road is no less. We choose to make it less. But it’s no less. Think about it. You live in Philadelphia – a city that organizations like Mission Year sends its workers. You already live here! And you’re not here for a year – but some of us for a lifetime. What could happen here if we banded together as a team (called the church) and committed to living here for God and the good of our city?
Anyway, I was glad for last night because of the work God is doing throughout the US with missionaries who are giving a year of their lives. And I was glad because it reminded me of the call of God on our local church. Seven Mile Road – this is our mission year.