Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Boston Day of Outreach

Two days ahead of time, I intentionally asked for a specific outreach assignment so that our group would have an experience that was well organized and hopefully unambiguous. During the Boston Winter Conference we spend one afternoon spreading out around the city partnering with local churches and ministries with one very simple goal: bless the city with the love of Christ. There is no bad assignment, but the reality is, some churches are more prepared and organized than others. Depending which neighborhood you end up in and which ministry or community organization you end up volunteering with the time can feel very productive or extremely haphazard and random. (God uses both of course!)
I was hoping to be able to hang out in the low income housing projects distributing commodities. I've done that before in Boston and even when you aren't handing out the boxes of food, it's a great place to hang out and meet people and talk about Jesus. We were given the green light, but at some point the deck was re-shuffled and Cornell was placed in another group. We were supposed to meet up with a local pastor, but something came up and at the last minute he informed us that he wouldn't be able to connect with us after all. So, essentially we had no assignment. Complete ambiguity; exactly what I had tried to avoid!
They told us to simply take some spiritual interest surveys down to a subway station sort of near the church and hang out and try to engage people in gospel conversations. We didn't feel like that was the best idea -mostly because people don't usually hang out too long in subway stations. They pass thru and they don't have much time to talk. Plus, it's usually cold there, people are standing around so there are many factors that inhibit too much serious impromptu dialog. We took some time to pray together before we headed out. I think we were all kind of bummed, but we decided to trust God and go for it. We had no idea what to expect, but we were just going to step out together in faith. Plain and simple. We told our group to keep their eyes open. If the Lord opened any doors or presented any opportunities for us before the we got to that T-station we didn't want to miss them.

Walking down the road a ways, we came upon Northeastern University. That was awesome! School wasn't in session but when we walked inside one of the admin buildings it was clear there were students on campus -mostly international students. Rather than head on to some random t-stop, most of us decided to take this as an answer to prayer and find the student union building and meet some people and talk about God. The union had a Taco Bell, but unfortunately it wasn't open. Can't have it all i guess, but the Wendy's was open and people were hanging out.

Our afternoon there was great! We initiated conversations using a couple of creative spiritual engagement tools. Soularium is a stack of postcard sized images of all kinds of different stuff. You lay out all the pictures and then ask people to pick different images in response to certain questions. For example, you would direct people to "choose 3 images that represent your life right now." They pick three images, and you can do it too. Then you talk about why you chose those pics and what's going on in your life right now. You continue to questions like "Which image would you choose to illustrate your spiritual journey." It can be pretty cool in the right place. Another tool is called Perspectives. It's a deck of cards and it functions in a similar way, but things are a little more concrete. I like the perspective cards because they really foster discussion.
Everyone got to have some great conversations with people and we all felt very encouraged!
Our friend and fellow staff member Oscar Avolos met some guys from another country and actually invited them to the conference! They came out the next night to hear an awesome message by Bret Ogburn. Bret is our friend, he was our campus director when we were in college, and he is responsible in many ways for our being up here in the northeast.

Our day of outreach was certainly redeemed and the Lord had lead us into a great situation. His plans are always good!

No comments:

Post a Comment