Servanthood. This is one of themes that we felt the Lord emphasize at the same time He was directing us to move to Nashville. So, when we moved here, we knew that we were to be about serving this community. There are many ways to do that here so it was quite paralyzing at first. We’ve been able to take advantage of a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer and serve since moving here but God has slowly focused our efforts towards certain communities within Nashville.
Trying to serve comes with a temptation: it’s easy for us to assume that we know what a community needs or even individuals for that matter. We often walk in to a place thinking we know what’s going on. Sometimes we come with a plan of what WE WANT to do to help, not even knowing what the real issues are. Much less knowing where they’ve been, where they want to go in life, or what God is trying to do. I know we’ve certainly been guilty of this approach in the past, and that is why we’ve tried our best to go about things here in a different way.
In an attempt to serve well, we have purposefully taken a lot time to observe the people and places in our context, and reflect on what we see and hear. We’ve done this by interacting with key leaders and stakeholders, asking a lot of questions, and doing a lot of listening. We’ve heard a lot of stories and history, and have been invited to join in what others are already doing in that context to make a difference.
Some in our missional context have been surprised when we ask, “How can we serve you? What do you need?” Come to find out, they have become accustomed to groups coming in with their own answers and agenda. Below we’ll highlight some of the ways we’ve been able to serve over the past month.
As we’ve interacted with General Hospital on a couple of projects, we started to learn about free services they provide for those without health insurance. So, we asked them what we could do to create awareness in the neighborhood across the street about those services. They gave us some flyers and we went door to door in the Osage neighborhood to let people know about free cancer screenings. This ended up being a great opportunity to meet people! We knew we were on the right track when one lady said, “Thank you for doing this. This is a service this community needs.”
The volunteer coordinator at the hospital also told also us that they needed items to help build something they call “comfort boxes.” They’re given to give patients who end up staying in the hospital a while to help them manage their pain. Some of the items they needed were puzzles, adult coloring books, and color pencils. We told her “That is definitely something we can get!” We went out and purchased those items, and then brought them back to her office. Her face lit up with a smile. She wanted to know if she could call on us when the supplies ran out. We said “Absolutely!”
We had an opportunity to serve food at a local food distribution event. After the event was over, they allowed us to go out to the tractor trailer that brought the resources and we looked through some of the items that remained to see if we could find anything useful to donate to the Robert Churchwell Elementary School. To our surprise, we found several cases of Graham Crackers, several cases of Skin Moisturizer, and a case of 3 Ring Binders from Office Depot. The school was super excited to receive those resources.
We are always asking the community coordinator at Robert Churchwell Elementary what we can do to help, and last week they needed us to volunteer as proctors for the state wide TCAP testing. They also told us the teachers don’t receive much appreciation 😦 So as a way to bless the teachers who are doing the testing, we took breakfast and snacks each morning when we went to help 🙂
If you would like to help us cover the costs of these purchases, you can make a tax deductible donation here or send a check to PO Box 330576, Nashville, TN 37203.
As we move through this journey of incarnational mission, we are learning to genuinely serve the community we are being sent to. What would happen if we just asked people “How can I serve you?”