Five months ago, we announced that LBCSJ would be sending our summer short-term missions team to Baltimore. Four months ago, Pastor Mark, (Elder) Ted, and I started reviewing applications, interviewing applicants, and praying specifically for prospective team members. Three months ago, God saw fit to put a small hold on our planning process. Two months ago, we asked the Lord for wisdom and determined the sending/going teams. One month ago, we started furiously preparing for this trip.
More than (the immense) logistical and administrative needs, we wanted to make sure the team was walking well spiritually. Each week we read three chapters of John, considered a different characteristic of God, prayed for our anxieties/frustrations using scripture, were reminded of the Peacemaker Pledge, and walked through the themes of joy and unity in Christ as seen in Philippians. If we want to preach Christ abundantly, then we need Christ in abundance ourselves.
In each meeting we were reminded to be flexible (with the schedule and responsibilities), gracious to each other, and intentional in showing love to one another and in our evangelism. The team was definitely tested when we had to wake up early on Saturday morning to be at the airport by 4:45am. But praise God for willing church members who kindly provided us with rides, coffee, pastries, and a sweet send-off!
And here we are in Baltimore, MD! The last 36 hours have been a whirlwind of excitement. We encountered a few minor snafus upon arrival (e.g. my church credit card getting declined!), but the team members were patient, always smiling, and quick to encourage. God was gracious in allowing any issues to be cleared immediately. Of course, He was gracious to even allow those things to happen because they became opportunities for me to share about our trip with different people (such as the hotel clerks). There were so many great opportunities I had to share the Gospel while preparing for this trip, traveling here, and randomly around our hotel. Ask me about this in person!
On Sunday we joined Baltimore Bible Church for an equipping & prayer hour before service. There is something so beautiful and exciting about hearing a room filled with prayer. The members here are truly prayer warriors and maximized every minute of the hour to pray earnestly to the Lord. This time of prayer flowed nicely into the message delivered by Pastor Mark. He walked us through "The Prayer of the Lord's Servant" as seen through Nehemiah 1. Prayer is a privilege, a burden (for the glory of the Lord), a response (that begins and ends with the greatness of the God of the future who is sovereign even over the finest details of your life), a hope (for the greatness of God and the greatness of the hope which He has given us through repentance), and a request. Do we ultimately pray like Nehemiah – for God's grace to let us do the will and the work of the Lord? Are our prayers inward focused or are we praying to prepare a people for the coming of Christ?
After church, we were able to visit the park where the Kids Camp will take place. Sadly, the drug dealings (among other illegal activities) have increased over the last two weeks. In fact, one of our team members saw a deal go down today as we were flyering! Please pray for continued team unity, safety, physical endurance (it's HOT and HUMID), and that the Gospel would be faithfully brought to the kids at VBS and when we do street evangelism! Please pray with us as we endeavor to bring the Good News to the inner city of Baltimore!