What Are You Going to Do Now?

Partners

Inez Cocke was already at church when I arrived yesterday morning (Inez is one of our most faithful volunteers.  She had probably been there for hours.  I often suspect she actually lives at church and has a cot somewhere in the basement).  But I walked in and said hello and after some friendly banter she asked, “What are you going to do now that your mission trip is over?”

Wow.

I hadn’t really thought about it like that.  I knew that we had come to the end of our year-long, every-member mission trip called KOH2RVA, but in my mind the mission was still going on, only in a different way.  Instead of trying to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, by ourselves we were going to start working with other churches, individuals, agencies, and organizations in a mission called “Kingdom of Heaven Times Two,” or, as I like to say it, “KOHX2: Bringing It Together.”

I gave Inez an example: I told her that some of our deacons have been working to renew our friendship with First African Baptist Church in the hope that we might work together to do something remarkable in Richmond, to show this city what true reconciliation looks like.

She seemed pleased by that.

“There’s always something going on around here,” she said, smiling, as if she knew that she would still have work to do when she showed up the next morning, as if she knew that our mission—God’s mission, really—won’t be over until his kingdom comes, and his will is done in Richmond as it is in heaven.

KOH2RVA: Day 28

Yesterday I went to Guardian Place, a retirement community a few blocks west and a few blocks north of First Baptist Church. I wanted to talk to our members there about our year-long, every-member mission trip, and how they might get involved.

But I was told we didn’t have many members there—maybe three. And so there wouldn’t be much of a crowd. That didn’t matter to me. I wasn’t looking for crowds; I was simply looking for a way to get every member involved in this mission. So, imagine my surprise when I walked into the dining room at Guardian Place and found some fifty people sitting there, eager to hear from the pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church!

It turns out that many of them watch our telecast on Sunday mornings, and feel a strong connection to the church. So, it wasn’t out of place for me to talk to them about “our” mission. As I said repeatedly: “This is a big job. We need all the help we can get!”

What kind of help can they give? Well, I asked them that. One of them said, “We can love our neighbors!” Yes, and as it turns out, they have some neighbors right there in the retirement community who could use some love. “We can pray,” someone else offered, and I said, “Yes, you can!” I asked them to pray especially for the peace of our city, which just had its deadliest month in five years. And then, as we talked, several of those people began to offer other things they could do—small, practical things that would make a big difference.

I looked at Inez Cocke sitting there, Inez, who is one of our most faithful volunteers at First Baptist. I’ve teased her about having a cot in the church basement where she sleeps because I see her almost every day volunteering in one capacity or another: sending out CD’s and DVD’s to people who request them (including my parents), helping out with Wednesday night dinners, offering hospitality at funerals, ushering on Sunday mornings in the balcony. I’m sure those are only the most visible things she does, but if everybody at Guardian Place did what Inez did, the Kingdom of Heaven would have come to Richmond a long time ago, or at least to that part of Richmond.

It’s touching to think that–for the rest of this mission year–whenever I mention KOH2RVA on television some fifty people at Guardian Place will think of yesterday’s visit, and think of how they agreed to join us on this mission trip. They may bow their heads and say a prayer for the peace of the city. They may make a special effort to love their neighbors during Sunday lunch. Or, if they are like Inez, they may roll up their sleeves and get to work, and the kingdom may come, and God’s will may be done, on earth as it is in heaven.