Serving the Community

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.

flyer passoutAs 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.”

hospital comfort boxThe 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!”

TIffany ServingWe 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.

teacher snacks

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?”

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OneLife Website

We’re excited to announce that the One Life website is now live! In addition to our online presence through social media, the website will give people an opportunity to check us out and see what we’re up to.  Stop by and take a look!

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40 Days of Fasting and Prayer

As this new year began, the thought of fasting started to occasionally cross my (Tiffany) mind. Then one Sunday morning I woke up and got the sense that Tim and I should go to a certain church service in town. We were free at that time, so we went. The pastor got up to speak and it was all about… fasting and prayer. As we walked away I knew the Spirit was leading me in that direction, so I started asking God to show me what kind of fast I should do. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back to sleep right away, so I asked God what He was thinking about the fasting. As I asked questions, He gave me details about what I should eat… or not eat. Basically, no chewing, primarily fresh vegetable juices, hot teas, with some supplement like coconut oil.

I also got the sense that it’d be best to start as soon as possible and that it should last 40 days. Within the previous couple of days, I had read the account in Luke about Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and found most intriguing and inspiring that He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit! After 40 days of fasting and temptation!

As I continued to process and pray about this the next day, my flesh said “What?! There is no way you can do that! You get “hangry” if you’re an hour late to eat lunch.” And that is so true! Tim can confirm it! Sure, I’ve done 2 or 3 day fasts before, but in a normal day I’ve never been able go a few hours without food and not get light-headed, weak, and cranky. The Spirit-led side of me said “Yes! Great idea! It would be a great time to pray for clarity and breakthrough in our mission with OneLife. Not to mention for breakthrough and growth for me personally and for those I love.”

I shared with Tim what I felt that the Holy Spirit was leading me toward. After praying about it himself, He thankfully thought it was a great idea to join in. We proceeded later that week to begin our first 40 day fast.

I, of course, knew this type of fast would not be a cake-walk but that, especially since God led us to do it, He would help us through. And the reward of seeking Him over food would in the end outweigh the difficulty. That was absolutely true! I’m pleased to announce that we made it through! Yesterday was the last day of our fast and today we are thoroughly enjoying actual food… though in small portions. There were definitely some very hard days, which played out differently for Tim and I – weird cravings, plenty of stomach growling, and yes more tiredness than normal – but overall it was more wonderful than I could’ve ever imagined. No doubt worth it!

Cleansing and Clarity

Throughout the 40 days, God sustained us and gave us energy to continue working on projects and in our mission. Also, we are walking away with more clarity and renewed faith in what God is calling us to here in Nashville! I had a fairly extensive list that I wanted to pray through each day. Even after a week or so I noticed that God was speaking to me, clarifying, guiding me…bit by bit… in various prayer points on the list. As my body was cleansed in fasting from food, I also felt He cleaned out some fears and insecurities within me. Opening my heart and spirit to more freely walk the path He is leading us on. It never ceases to amaze me how gently the Lord can do these types of things in us. His love and kindness are so abundant in these times as we open ourselves to Him!

Midway through the fast, Tim and I felt it would be a good time to retreat for a more focused time of prayer. During the retreat we revisited words God has already spoken over us and came up with a list of specific questions we wanted to ask Him for direction on. We each spent time apart, talking to the Lord about these things and then came back together to compare notes. There were too many questions to go through here, but we each received many similar answers from God. Not earth-shattering revelation, but mostly confirmation that we are doing what we are supposed to be… and that we should keep doing it prayerfully. This may not seem like a big deal but, as we are trying to follow the Spirit and chart new territory, this kind of clarity is quite encouraging. It has created more confidence and excitement as we walk out our weekly rhythms!

These last 40 days have proved to me once again how rewarding it is to go the Lord’s way. I surely would have never come up with this idea on my own! In fact, I previously thought I would be physically incapable of doing a 40-day liquid only fast. If I’d have limited myself to my way, I would’ve so missed out on opportunity for breakthrough and clarity… not to mention beautiful time with God. I’m so thankful for how the Spirit so wisely guides us, for Jesus and His example, and the Father and His loving and gentle way. They are absolutely the best and no doubt know the best for us.

~ Tiffany

Secret Santa!

As we continue to build relationships in our first missional context, God keeps opening up doors for opportunities to serve. The most recent opportunity was the 4th Annual Secret Santa Event at the Nashville General Hospital (NGH), which is literally right down the street from Robert Churchwell Elementary (RCE), the school we tutor at. Here’s how it went down…

We asked one of our new friends, Pastor Enoch Fuzz, founder of One Nashville Community Awareness (ONCA) if he knew of a way to provide Christmas presents to some of the kids at the school. He said “Yes!” We didn’t know it at the time, but Enoch happens to serve on the board at the Hospital, and each year they provide close to 40 kids from the community with a Christmas party, filled with pizza, presents and fun. Enoch asked if I wanted to help register kids for that event. I said “Yes!” So he introduced me to the Hospital staff in charge of the event, and we took responsibility for coordinating the registration of about 20 students from the school to participate. Here are some pictures from the event.

It was a great experience to serve as a bridge between the school, hospital, and local community. This is a great example of how local organizations can come together to make a positive impact on the community. Thank you Pastor Enoch Fuzz, ONCA, RCE, and NGH for being such amazing assets in the community!

Investing in the Community

We’re excited that a new partnership is forming between OneLife and Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary!

This partnership is emerging from our roles as volunteers with The Pencil Foundation. Tiffany and I have two students each that we tutor every Tuesday at the school. Not only is this a strategic way to disrupt the school to prison pipeline, it also allows us to show our love for the community.   

Reading Tutor Station
The tutoring station…

We also had the amazing opportunity to participate in the school’s Trunk or Treat event. We enjoyed great interactions with parents, kids, teachers, and school administrators. Also, in November we enjoyed a great meeting with the school’s Community Outreach Coordinator (who just happens to be the son of the man after which the school is named. How amazing is that!). After that meeting we found out that there was an opportunity to help a few families of the children from the school with Thanksgiving meals. So that’s what we did! We’re so excited about the opportunities to serve in this context!

Treats for everyone!
Treats for everyone!
Trunk  and back seat loaded with groceries for Thanksgiving meals.
Trunk and back seat loaded with groceries for Thanksgiving meals.

Surrender – Must it be so hard?

There was a time when I thought that surrendering to God, to His way, was a hard but necessary occasional act. You do it and get it over with… and on occasion you may come to that place again. Over time and experience I have realized that abandoning myself to God is a continuous and necessarily repetitive act on my part. This has become clearer than ever in the time since Tim and I moved to Nashville. My own plans tend to take over in the daily. My ideas, my thoughts, my worries, my self creeps in and I veer towards a path that is my way instead of His. Many times, unintentionally.

There have been times when just getting to the point of deciding to surrender something in my life to God seemed so excruciatingly painful. Which…it can be hard to surrender. We are still in the flesh after all. I have found though, for me, that the decision to surrender has become easier. Not because I’ve become better or more righteous. Not because I’ve had more practice in surrendering…though I have. I’ve found that it has gotten easier as I’ve come to know my God better and better.

The more time I spend with God and the closer I become to Him, the more clearly I see Him. The more I sit with Him, the more I remember His faithfulness and wisdom when I have gone His way. (Or how things went not so well when I went my way instead.) The more I rest in Him, the more I know His love and desires for me. The more I lean into His heart, the more I feel His good intentions towards me. This. This nearness to God is what continues to make the decision to surrender to Him easier.

Truthfully, the path of His way sometimes seems to get crazier and it certainly doesn’t always make sense to me. It doesn’t usually look like I’d want it to and things don’t go how I think they’d go. But I’ve found (sometimes the hard way) that even if my path for myself is good… His path for me is amazing. I’ve found that when I go His way, peace reigns because He’s in control and I don’t have to be.

His plan for us is above and beyond any plan we could imagine for ourselves. The more of ourselves that we can let go of, the more of ourselves that can be released to live in His abundance for us.

As I have drawn nearer to God, He has shown me glimpses of His vision for my life and it’s not anything I would have come up with. I have no doubt that His view of you is more beautiful than you can imagine and His vision for you might blow your mind a little.

We will have times when His way may seem too scary or foolish. We will doubt what God has said about us, what He said He’d do, that His way is better… even doubt that He’s with us. In these moments we must step closer. Lean in a little further. He will be there. We will remember that He is more trustworthy than the fact that the sun will go down today and come back up tomorrow. Then it will be a little easier to at least decide to let go of whatever we’re holding onto, release it to Him, and surrender to His way once again. His abundantly good way…

~ Tiffany

Sunset with God
The place I sometimes go at sunset to sit and talk with God.

Check us on The Socials

Hey! We just wanted to do a quick shout-out to point you to our OneLife social media spots. This is where we post snippets of what’s happening in our world. We update each one uniquely. For example, we’ll be using Facebook mainly to post about our events, but we use Instagram to mainly post pictures from those events. Our social handle is @onelifenash

fb new instagram        twitter

 

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Also, we are prepping to make a few videos which will be posted on our website and youtube. In these we hope to highlight a few tools that we use to help us be and make disciples of Jesus.

Thanks for your friendship, support, and interest in what’s happening in our world!

 

 

 

 

Mission Trip to Houston: Pictures and more…

We’re back! Our first OneLife mission trip this past week was really good. In the last post, we mentioned some of the details about the beginning of the trip. In this post, we wanted to share some pictures from the trip. After we picked up the trailer, money, water bottles, pick up truck, and donated supplies in Adam Brown’s hometown of St. Clair MO, we set out on the highway late Sunday afternoon towards Houston. As we traveled, we began purchasing dehumidifiers, shopvacs, fans, air movers, extension cords and other clean-up supplies at several Lowe’s and Walmart’s we passed along the way.

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Once we arrived, we had 3 full days to work and we ended up working primarily in 3 different homes. The first day we spent in the house of a single mom with 6 children. Her house had flooded about 8 inches which meant everything had to be cut or torn out about a foot above that mark. Sure enough, as we tore out cabinets and dry wall, the studs and insulation were soaked. She was a wonderful lady and we were glad to do what we could there, as well as give her one of the dehumidifiers we purchased. We gave out a few more dehumidifiers, as well as box fans, in this same neighborhood.

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The next day we worked in another home that had been flooded into the second floor. The first floor was completely gutted so we worked on the second floor to tear out bathroom cabinets, floors, and drywall all around. Mold was already growing on the drywall here which is why it is so important to get it cleared out as quickly as possible. These homeowners were actually out of town when the flood came. They happened to return that evening just as we were about to leave. The lady gave me (Tiffany) a tight hug and we embraced a long while as she, in tears, thanked us for coming.

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We were able to buy a lot more dehumidifiers, fans, and supplies than we could’ve imagined thanks to everyone’s generosity in giving! On top of what we had already passed out, Adam was able to take 15 dehumidifiers, 24 fans, 20 extension cords, and cleaning supplies to Ecclesia Houston, a local church near downtown Houston. They distributed them over the next few days to people in need in the downtown area. He also went to the city of Beaumont TX, a place that still had no running water at that time, and delivered the 7,000 bottles of water we collected and bought, as well as 4 shopvacs, extension cords, paper towels, cleaning materials, mops, and bleach.

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Our last day was spent helping a man closer to downtown Houston. He owns a small flooring business, but was overwhelmed by the amount of work of getting his property back to normal. Before we left at the end of the day, we prayed for him. He started crying and said “I see the heart of God in you. And that gives me hope.” He was so thankful to have help that day. Here’s a picture of the team of people who worked in his house.

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On our way back to Nashville, we had long discussions about what it means to serve and participate in the ministry of reconciliation. Those we had the opportunity to serve were genuinely thankful and were so glad to know they were not alone in facing the challenges of recovering from this flood.

We would love to make more trips to Houston to participate in the relief and recovery efforts taking place there.  Thank you to Adam for initiating and planning the trip. Thank you to Adam’s parents for letting us use their pick up truck, The Ridge church that took up offerings and let us use their trailer, and the Freedom Fellowship Church for being incredible hosts. A BIG “Thank You” to everyone who donated money, time, and encouraging words to make this trip possible. We were amazed by your compassion and generosity!

~ Tim and Tiffany

Mission Trip to Houston

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We wanted to share an amazing opportunity that we have to serve the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Adam Brown – a friend and OneLife Advisory Board Member – has secured a pickup truck, a trailer, and over 5,000 water bottles from The Ridge Church in Villa Ridge Missouri where he grew up. We  are leaving tomorrow at 4 P.M. with Adam to go and pick up the vehicle and supplies.

Then, on Sunday, we will drive out to Texas where we will join efforts with the Freedom Fellowship Church in Magnolia TX. They are serving as a hub for volunteers and supplies in that area.

Adam owns and operates a home improvement business, so he will be leading us and other volunteers into accessible neighborhoods where the water has receded enough to safely and effectively begin the hard work of restoring homes – things like ripping up carpet, taking furniture out to the side of the road, and cutting out soiled dry wall. The goal is to dry homes out before black mold sets in and permanent damage takes place.

Here’s where you come in. We are asking for donations so we can purchase equipment and supplies for doing the work. Specifically, we are going to buy:

Box Fans – to dry out the homes. These will stay with the homeowners we serve.
Dehumidifiers – these too will stay with the homeowners we serve.
Shopvacs – these will stay with the Freedom Fellowship church staff to resource future volunteers and their work.
Extension Cords – these will stay with either the homeowners or the church staff.
Food – this will help offset our meal expenses during the trip. However, some meals may be provided by the church while we are there.

If you would like to make a donation to help us purchase these items, donate here.

We will return next weekend and plan to post a few pictures of the trip and the items we purchased. Please pray for us as we travel and seek to be a blessing to people who are in the process of recovering from this tragedy. Thanks!

Feeling the Neighborhood Vibe… Literally

As you know, God has been leading Tim and I to start doing ministry in a particular North Nashville neighborhood. We’ve been spending regular time there… usually at least 2 or 3 times a week. Lots of praying, listening to folks that live there, playing basketball with kids, meeting with community leaders… taking in the neighborhood. This is a season of immersion and interaction for us. [Link to blog]

I thought I’d share a story of one of my experiences with you as we’ve been taking in the vibe of this area.

One Saturday morning we went to hang out at a park in the area and some kids invited us to play basketball with them. I think this was really the first time we went into the neighborhood to just hangout. Everything went well and after a while we left to continue with our day. The strange thing is that for the rest of the day I was in a serious funk. Out of nowhere I was feeling depressed, discouraged, aggravated, very tired and worn  down. My body was sore and I just kept wanting to sleep the whole day. That is not like me, especially when it’s a nice day out (which it was.) The day slowly passed and I kept thinking… what is wrong with me?

That night as I was falling asleep, I asked, “God, what is wrong with me? What’s going on today?” Probably should have asked that much earlier!

I felt like he said, “It is a spirit of oppression.” I was exhausted so I fell right asleep. When we woke up the next morning, Tim and I talked about the previous day and he prayed for me. As He prayed, the Spirit also told him that it was a spirit of oppression. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition for the word oppression. It said “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” That made sense because this neighborhood is in one of Nashville’s historically African American communities. And as we’ve learned some of the history, there has definitely been various kinds of racial and economic oppression over the years.

As the day moved along, I started to feel better, but I spent some time that morning processing the whole thing with God. He told me that this is how some people in the community feel all of the time. That is their norm… which is in stark contrast to your norm. Feeling this will help you to know how to pray, what to pray, and fill you with more compassion.

I’ll be honest, I felt kind of scared at this point and thought… Am I going to have this same experience every time we hang out in the neighborhood? God assured me that when this type of thing happens I don’t need to be overtaken by these feelings and let them dominate. He said “We will go through it together. In Me, you are strong and powerful and these things can’t overcome you. Just stay as close to me as possible and pray for the community.”

I have not experienced feelings like this every time we are there, and certainly nothing so strong. I will tell you though, there’s not a time that we are there that it doesn’t come to mind. When I think about it, I pray in Jesus name for there to be freedom from oppression.  I’m so grateful for this experience because it helps me remember who God is, and to keep praying for this community.

~ Tiffany