By Kristen Johnson
If you are looking for inspiration and a way to serve in the community, look no further than the best example of servanthood I’ve seen in a long time – Southlake Church in Portland, Oregon.
Undivided is a documentary about the amazing faith commitment of a local Church with a school in dire need of a faith community to support them. What started as a one-day service weekend from congregants to “clean up” the church with paintbrushes and garden hoes, turned into a fulltime service commitment for the school, and the community. They now have a commitment to weekly evening meals for some of the sports teams which spiraled to include family members and friends, a clothes closet for any student who needs just about anything, mentorship programs, a daycare for students who have children, and crowds to show up to cheer on the girl’s basketball team because their families can’t or won’t show up to cheer them on.
The children who speak on camera will break your heart with their stories – families who don’t know them or don’t care about them, foster homes, severe hunger, gang problems, and having children themselves at 15 and 16 years old.
What is amazing about SouthLake Church is their total commitment to serving this school, with no strings attached. They ask what the school needs and they just provide it for them – and do you know why? Because it’s the right thing to do – they are living the Church and that means following Jesus’ command to love and serve.
This is the kind of example all of us can learn from. Don’t beat people over the head with a Bible and a sermon about hell. Live it. Be it. Do it. Serve because our Savior commanded us to do so. And do it with love.
I am beyond inspired by this Church’s commitment to one school. My home Church has a similar commitent to a local elementary school, though on a much smaller scale. I believe that each and every Church should partner with a school in need. As an educator, I can assure you that these services are sorely needed. I have felt the frustrations of not having any help in the classroom and loads of discipline problems. I have seen children come to school who need healthy food, guidance, clean clothes, and the list goes on.
I am very encouraged by Southlake Church’s #everyschoolmatters campaign. The idea is to get local Churches involved with their local schools. They feel that every school has a need – and they are right. To find out more about this fabulous campaign, look here: http://www.undividedthemovie.com.
Thank you Southlake Church for reminding all of us of our need to serve underserved school communities. Thank you for reminding us that when we serve, it’s not the people we serve who are blessed, but rather it is the servant who is blessed multiple times over.
1 Peter 4:10 (NRSV): Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io