A Culturally-Engaged Weekend
As we are living in this community, we have lots of chances to engage people in Allendale, SC. Instead of constantly looking for ways to get to know and serve others, we more often have to figure out which of these opportunities we need to walk away from.
We’re thankful that God has been opening up so many doors for us. This past weekend was full of opportunities for our families to engage and love on people in this community.
High School Football. There was no school on Friday (parent-teacher conferences), so we did not have our after school programming. Knowing this in advance, a few weeks ago I asked the high school football coach if there was anything I could do to help him. (Our family already brought the team popsicles on Labor Day, and I’ve joined the team on the sidelines for a few games.) Coach Ford replied, “Join us on the sideline, of course. And can you do a pregame devotion?” I was happy to oblige.
I had already had it on my heart to share from 2 Timothy 2:1-13, using the illustrations of how a soldier, athlete, and farmer responds to hardships. And it turns out this message was timely, since the team had just received news that their successful season was about to come to an abrupt end (due to an ineligible player).
I explained that there will be many hardships in life, but a good soldier stays focused, an athlete endures and is thankful for the challenge, and a farmer expects a reward. But we must not fool ourselves into thinking that we can fix all of our problems. Only God can do that, and the reward we take away is not just physical success (on the football field) but the brotherhood that is formed in adversity. Even more, we have to remember that our lives are not really about ourselves, but about how we can benefit those who come after us.
Not only did I do the devotion, but Elijah and I got to join the team in a pregame meal, and we rode the team bus to and from the game in Estill. I loved getting to chat with some of the players (especially the seniors), and seeing how many of them went out of their way to engage my son.
Poll Worker and Voting. Joanna had already signed up and became certified for being a poll worker for the November 8 elections. She knew via email that she would be in Fairfax, and on Friday she walked to the voter registration office to confirm her location. She will be in a fairly high traffic location, which will give her a great opportunity to meet and engage our neighbors.
Lunch Date. An 8th grader from our church (Fairfax First Baptist) babysat for us. It was our first “in-town” date (actually, we went to nearby Varnville, because of the limited options in Allendale — and got some GREAT seafood). We’ve gotten to know this family some (they’ve cooked a few meals already for the kids in the after school program), and this babysitting allowed us to connect with them more, besides just giving Joanna and I much-needed time together!
Trunk-or-Treat. Allendale Elementary School had a trunk-or-treat event in the afternoon. We were happy to go, especially since a few children from the Club asked us if we were going. And, hey, free candy!
Sunday School. A few times since it began in September, I have filled in to lead the college Sunday School class at Fairfax First Baptist. They are going through Genesis, so I just had to pick up with the regular leader left off last week. It wasn’t a particularly exciting passage to teach (and neither is the one I’m covering next week as I’m filling in again), but the best part is getting to connect with some of the students. I’ve gotten to know one of the talented young men, Jonathan. Over breakfast a couple of weeks ago, we talked about him possibly teaching kids piano in our after school program. Score.
The Preacher. A week ago, I got a call from the mother of the pastor at Allendale Presbyterian Church. The pastor was going to be out-of-town, and they wanted to know if I could fill in. I’m pretty sure that preaching is not my forte, but I figured I could put something together. It’s a very small church, composed of maybe 15 members.
Quickly, I decided that I wanted to teach from 2 Timothy 2:1-13, the same passage that I taught in the pregame devotion for the football team. I loved it. Though the message would have a slightly differently angle, isn’t it great that God’s word (the gospel) is just as applicable to a group of young black men as it is to old white people?
This time teaching, I focused on the idea of a legacy. In this letter, Paul (who is about to be executed) is passing on some final words to a young Timothy. Similarly, this church (and all of us) need to be fervently focused on what kind of legacy we are leaving to those who come after us. Leaving a gospel legacy will require discomfort and even suffering, but we need to trust that Jesus will more than make up for it with eternal rewards.
More Candy. Sunday evening, it was back to Fairfax First Baptist as a family, for their fall festival. That meant more candy. But I was mostly wondering about participation from kids from the Club, since we had personally invited most of them. It’s an all-white church, which a dubious history of race relations. Well, we were excited that we had over 10 families from the after school program came out to enjoy the fun — candy, hot dogs, and bounce houses. Props to the leaders in this church for reaching out to the community. We can’t stop here, of course.
And More Candy. I really didn’t want us to go to the trunk-or-treat event at Fairfax Elementary School (sponsored each year by the police department). I figured we would have enough candy, but Joanna reminded me that since most of the kids in the Club go to this school, it was a great opportunity to connect with them and their families. Of course, she was right, and the family went, and saw a lot of parents and kids that we know. (And I won a cookie cake in a cake walk!)
Again, we are thankful for these many opportunities to be a part of this community! For those of you who are supporting us financially, with prayers, and with encouragements — thank you for enabling and empowering us to be here. To God be the glory.
- What’s Our Ultimate Purpose in Allendale?
- Allendale-Fairfax High School Tigers: Football Season Has Begun!
- 14 Can’t-Fail Principles to Earn the Trust of a New Community
- Culturally Engaged (External Link)