Before coming to A Simple House, I spent six months half-heartedly looking for a full-time job and half-heartedly looking into mission work. I wanted to do mission work, but it did not seem like a realistic option.Rather than pursue it, I made excuses for why I couldn’t. I was hoping God would open a door and put a big welcome mat in front, but he was asking for a step of faith. In July, I contacted A Simple House. I was familiar with their work and mission after spending a spring break with the community in Washington, D.C.. Within five days, I submitted an application, interviewed, moved to Kansas City, and flew to D.C. for training.
Michael was the first person I met on the first day of ministry. On our way to pick him up, Clark brought me up to speed on his situation. Simple House volunteers met Michael and his wife when they were living in a camping trailer in the backyard of another family we serve. Now they have their own home. Michael prefers to work and does not like to receive charity. Before we arrived at the house, I prayed that he would be receptive of our gift. We would be offering to buy school uniforms for his kids. He and his wife have four school-aged children, and they only had flip-flops and summer clothes. The family could not afford to buy uniforms, and without them, the children would probably miss school. When we offered to buy the uniforms, Michael hesitated for a moment before graciously agreeing. He was relieved when we left the store, as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“Wow,” I thought as we hopped back in the car and continued visiting. “That wasn’t so bad. I think I can do this missionary thing.”
As if cued, Michael asked, “So, Kara, what do you hope to do with this mission work?”
I sat speechless for a few seconds and hesitantly replied, “I think I am looking for an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone…” I did not feel comfortable responding with the obvious answer, “Convert people and help them get out of poverty.”
Calling out my lame answer, he responded, “Sounds like something you would put in a college entrance essay.”
The question caught me off-guard. I did not expect to give a reason for my faith on the first day. The funny thing is, Michael would have understood the obvious answer. I found out later that he and his wife are both convicted Christians.
Walt and Agnes are an elderly couple we serve. Walt suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is an alcoholic. We had helped him with a home-repair project, and we were stopping by to check on the progress. While my ministry partner talked to Agnes, Walt took me aside to show me the finishing touches he had added on his own. Our conversation about the project shifted as Walt started telling me about his life. He became distressed and upset when he opened up about what he experienced in war and alluded to crimes he committed.
“It doesn’t make sense. I’ve been through these things, done all of this… Little babies get sick and die. Why am I still here?” he asked, struggling with guilt.
I was surprised and looking for the right words to say, “You are supposed to be…”
He said with wonder, “That’s what Big Momma keeps saying, ‘The Big Guy up there still wants you here.’ Why won’t he tell me what he wants me to do, so I can do it and be done?”
As we walked back, I wished I had said more.
The first time I met Rhonda, she was preparing to leave Kansas City for rural Missouri. Rhonda lives in a project neighborhood, and after receiving an eviction notice, she was determined to leave the city. When she told us about about the eviction, we looked into finding her a shelter and offered to help her move back with family. We visited every week until the eviction. Rhonda welcomed our visits and always asked us to pray with her, yet our offers for help were repeatedly turned down, probably due to drug use and pressure from “friends.” Two days before the eviction, Rhonda was sitting on the floor in a dark apartment, sorting her belongings. She told us she had started prostituting herself because she was desperate for money. Rhonda tried to convince us that she was doing it in a legal and safe way. She called it an “escort service,” and her drug buddies were acting as her security. Rhonda knew we would not approve, but she chose to tell us anyway. We prayed with her and made a plan to get her out of the situation. When we came back, our plan was no longer needed. Rhonda got herself out of the situation, but there is an ongoing need to share Jesus’ love with her.
When I was living at home, I did not trust that God would provide for my desire to do mission work. During my first three months at A Simple House, God provided blatant, obvious, and sometimes awkward opportunities to share his love with others. Please pray that he will continue to surprise us with the work he wants us to do, and that we are willing and ready to respond.