We stood looking across the street at Joplin high school. It was a tomb. A cold, dark presence in the middle of what was once a thriving neighborhood. It was quiet as we huddle together and prayed for all the students, and staff of this large high school.
The students in the group began to come to terms with the massive destruction that took place here a few months ago. Tears began to fall as they placed themselves in the shoes of those that had lost so much. Prayers became a little more urgent and heartfelt, conversations took a turn for the serious, and the seeds of what God is doing here began to take root.
I’m with a group of 26 teens and 10 adults. We’ve come with Christ in Youth and Operation Blessing to be a part of the ongoing restoration of Joplin. I hold no comfort or glory in that statement. I will say this, I HATE why we are here. I love this city. Joplin has given me so much in my life and I loathe what has happened here. The storm has changed so many lives and taken so much.
But it is in that tension, that contradiction where we live as followers. The world is broken, but Christ’s message is one of restoration. We are called to be Kingdom workers and to restore earth to back to its original design. In the Gospels, when you see the phrase “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” Jesus or the writers weren’t talking of a far of paradise, they were referring to the here and now. To what God was doing in and through His people. We are called to restore.
So that’s what we are here to do. Like so many before us, and so many after us, we will do His bidding and restore what we can. We will leave this place better than it was before we got here. Just like all the others.
Colossians 1:20 says that everything is being restored back to Jesus through his work on the cross. If that is the case then our job as followers is to proclaim his truth in word and in our actions. And our actions are to be about being a part of restoring our communities and places like Joplin back to Him.
As I go to bed on this day, I’m challenged to begin thinking about what do in our community. What would happen if the church woke up and started serving? What would Wentzville and the surrounding areas look like in a year if we stopped fighting with each other and started working together?
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to find out.