Sometimes when you're trying to decide what to write, you read the "perfect" thing and it gives you exactly the inspiration you needed.
This week I had one of those experiences when I received a support letter in the mail from my friend Kara Schumann. Kara currently lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she does ministry with City Vision, a Kingdom building ministry that seeks to connect local churches with their neighborhoods, among other things. Below is a bit more about how City Vision describes their outreach:
We are a unique Christian non-profit ministry headquartered Minneapolis, MN with the purpose of strategically mobilizing, equipping, and serving the Church for Kingdom Building. We have branch offices in several U.S. Cities and we serve as a model for other cities in reaching their own cities.
City Vision Identifies ethnic, religious, and cultural trends as well as ministry opportunities and then Connects the Church to those needs, trends, and opportunities through partnerships, events, and education. We have created a safe evangelically neutral place to form partnerships and conduct city reaching/citywide projects/events.
City Vision has a strong cross-cultural, Glocal (Global + Local = Glocal) emphasis. City Vision has three main roles in the Body of Christ in Discovering and Transforming the New City:
That covers the goals and overall picture of City Vision, but as many of us know, ministry often cannot be wrapped up into a neat presentation package, complete with a checklist of finished tasks. This often discouraging reality is addressed by Kara in her letter.
"This January marks my official one-year anniversary of ministry with City Vision. I don't have a long list of tangible accomplishments or results to show for this past year. If I am honest, sometimes that stresses me out. In a culture driven by accomplishments and success, I look rather pathetic. Ministry in my neighborhood is not glamorous. It takes time to build trust in relationships, and by God's grace, those relationships will deepen."
The cost of entering into a relationship of love in a hurting world is often a deep, wounding pain within the soul. It is almost impossible to encounter the hopelessness of poverty, broken families, and other societal struggles and walk away untouched.
"There is a pervasive heaviness upon my heart. I know that the Lord is with us, and that He is good, yet my heart is heavy still. Everyday I am reacquainted with the pain of brokenness: the reality that when sin entered this world, all things were mangled and distorted. Daily, I am reminded of the brokenness in myself, the brokenness in others, the brokenness in our city, the brokenness in our country, the brokenness in our world. I have come to the sobering realization that no one can pass through time on this earth untouched by the pain of brokenness."
Kara also talks about the high level of emotions that go into truly loving and caring for those around us, describing the cost, as well as the blessing, of loving deeply.
...as those relationships deepen, my heat is more susceptible to pain. I weep over the brokenness I encounter every day. It is painful to start to see and experience the brokenness of others. Yet heaviness and hope and coexist. I think there is a lie sometimes that creeps into Christian thinking that says 'If I follow Jesus, my life should be free from sorrow.' But as I look to Jesus, I see a Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). I see a man who willingly entered in to the sorrows of the world.
Recently, when I was praying for a friend, I became particularly overwhelmed by the reality that no has been, and no one will be, spared from the pains of life. This moment of despair was interrupted by these gentle words from the Lord: "Take heart dear one, I have overcome the world." He continued to speak it, and each time this refrain was related, the tone in which He spoke grew in intensity. "I, I have overcome the world!" With each word I felt my whole being ease up. He was drawing me to rest in Him; to rest in the truth that He is the Great Overcomer. He is the Victorious One. He has not left us; He has not forgotten us. He is present, closer than the very air He has provided for us to breathe. He was giving me His peace."
Where are you in ministry today? Are you on a mountaintop, experiencing the fruits of your labor, fueled by passion and excitement for the work the Lord has given you? REJOICE! And if you are weary, so tired in your spirit and discouraged in your heart, take hope, dear friend.
"Heaviness and hope can stir within the same soul. Life in the fallen world is not easy, but Jesus has overcome, He is overcoming and He WILL overcome. Its just a little while till we see Him face to face in eternity. Lets fix our eyes on Him and journey together."
Kara can be reached via e-mail at city [email protected] Those interested in financially supporting Kara in her City Vision ministry can mail checks to the following address:
City Vision (Kara Schumann) PO Box 23237 Minneapolis, MN 55423
*Italicized print detailing the mission of City Vision comes from the City Vision website, cityvisiontc.org.
*Bold print in quotations is directly from Kara Schumann's City Vision Update - January 2015. All quotations used with her permission.
© 2018 El-Inkwell.