Saturday, March 16, 2013

Natalie writes a guest post: How lucky am I that God doesn't expect me to save anyone?

[ a guest post from Natalie Murphy ]

photo credit: Rebecca Howeth

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do great works, which he has prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

          This past weekend marked my one-year anniversary of volunteering with Mission: Possible Austin’s children’s program, Project Intercept. One year ago I blindly stumbled upon being a counselor at a weekend retreat for inner city kids in Austin. When someone announced in my youth group that MP was looking for more counselors, I filled out a piece of paper, and before I knew it, I was in love with Austin’s urban community. I signed up for Spring Retreat because it seemed like it would be fun, I like camp and I like kids so it seemed like a sweet deal. By the end of the weekend, I knew God was doing something so much bigger here.

Mission: Possible is a non-profit that has been serving the city of Austin since 1992. I wish I could tell you every story that God has written through the mission of this organization since then, but we’d be here for a very long time. But I can tell you my story; it’s a good one.

So many of the kids that we work with come from broken homes. Their families have fallen apart, and the weight of the past is so often placed on their shoulders. Some of my campers have seen things before the age of five that you and I will never have to see in our whole lives. Drugs, abuse, violence, gang activity- you name it. They live in neighborhoods where they are exposed to extreme dangers every single day. You know the neighborhoods I am talking about, when we drive through them we roll up our windows and keep our heads down. We all do it! They’re rough. But now imagine you’re 8 years old and walking home from school there. That’s a daily reality for these kids.

It sounds scary, walking into this without a clue, but I wasn’t alone. Its amazing how big God becomes when you realize how small you are. I knew from the first day working with Mission: Possible that I there was nothing I alone could say or do to change the hearts of these kids. I could not save them. I could not even try to save them. How lucky am I that I serve a God who doesn’t expect me to be able to save anyone?

Flash forward a few months and I was a counselor at Mission: Possible’s week long camp. God used that week to change my life in so many ways. I met some of my very best friends and got to learn from the way they served Christ. I fell even deeper in love with the families and culture of inner city Austin. I began to understand my calling to camp ministry as well as ministry to at-risk kids. My eyes were opened to some of my spiritual gifts, including leadership, teaching and justice. I finally began to grasp the power of prayer, something God allows me to grow in every single day. And I was given the opportunity to be a solider for God in intense spiritual warfare for the very first time.

After Nikos, I decided I didn’t want to only see these kids three times a year, so I gleefully joined the team of servants that put on a weekly kid’s club in east Austin. ‘Big Fish Club’ is a highlight of every single week for me. I am so blessed to be able to share Jesus with kids every week, alongside some of the coolest servants ever.

I then served at Fall Retreat in October and again at Spring Retreat this weekend. What a weekend it was. We bused the kids out to Twin Lakes Fellowship in Cedar Park, a beautiful church who has a partnership with the YMCA down the street that we also got to work with. God held off the threatening rain clouds during the days, and at night we slept in tents in classrooms on the second floor of the building.

photo credit: Rebecca Howeth

I have to admit something right now; I almost didn’t go to Spring Retreat. In the past couple months, I’ve had so many different opportunities to serve God and be with His people. I am blessed to say that I was exhausted from the full life God has given me, but it made the thought of another 4 days of service draining. But God convinced me to trust him and sign up. I am overjoyed to tell you, my God is always right.

The weekend was so full of joy, and even though I didn’t sleep much, I felt rested and renewed on Monday afternoon when I got home. I got to reconnect with campers I’ve worked with at past camps and Big Fish Club and meet new campers. I also got to see some of my Nikos co-counselors again, which was so fun. The fullness and blessing of the last year of work with this team and kids swept over me and I felt for the first time that God was moving then and there, not just the hope that he would move someday.

This weekend, I saw real progress in my life and in the lives of my campers. What my God can do in one year is unbelievable. The most exciting part of this weekend is that God isn’t done with me at Mission: Possible yet! In fact, I think he’s just begun. He has prepared in advance GREAT works for us to do together. How cool is that? He has a plan for even the smallest member his kingdom to be a part of something big! What a God we serve.

photo credit: Rebecca Howeth

My daughter Natalie invites you to read more of her faith stories at her new blog, She Can Laugh at the Days to Come
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