After almost a week of processing and recouping from the Philippi mission trip, I feel that I'm able to write a little about it here. From the day I began interviewing for the Youth Director position at IUMC, I have heard about what an amazing trip Philippi is. To be honest, I felt that the build up would leave me a little disappointed at the end, and would just cause a lot of stress at the beginning. God had much different plans.
A month or so before Philippi, I chose the theme "RESTORE" for the week. I felt that it was an idea and action that God was building up in me, and that I felt called to share with others. I didn't realize how well it would fit the week. We went to Philippi to do construction projects, and from these projects came a restored home, restored hope, and restored faith in both God and other people for those whose homes we worked on...and for us God restored our faith, community, and mission as a church. For me personally, God restored my sense of calling and mission in youth ministry. I could not imagine anything being more fulfilling than working alongside my youth group doing service for the glory of God. It was an incredible week.
I think that our entire community felt the Spirit's presence as we worked, ate, worshiped, played, prayed, and lived together in Philippi, and I don't think that presence and fire in us needs to die down. Philippi was a mountain-top experience for most of us, and now that we are back to valley of regular life we need to continue to remember our glimpse of the Kingdom. The community and love surrounding us at Philippi, and the constant connection to our Father is more real than anything else. It is a taste of the life that we are meant to live. Let us not stop at just that taste.
Those who went to Philippi: I want to encourage you to remember what God did there. Keep your Ebenezer in sight, and remember how God moved. And respond to that! Now that we are back to the daily grind it is easy to go back to exactly how we were living before Philippi, but challenge yourself to respond to God's movement during that week. Find ways to bring restoration to the people around you. Continue to be in the Word, in fellowship, and in prayer--continue the restoration of your soul. And remember that our foundation, the Faith, Hope, and Love that comes from Christ, is constant and ever present. God gave us an amazing experience of being submerged in that foundation, let us now begin to build on it.