Simon’s Says ~ from Alan

I shared a bit of this story on our return from the recent mission trip, but I think it deserves a wider audience, so I’m retelling it here.

Our lodging for the week was at the Union Congregational Church, UCC, in Holly Hill, Florida.  Specifically, we stayed in what once was the church’s Christian Education building, but has since been converted into offices and living space.  The chalkboards in our dormitory rooms were testimony to their original purpose.  The Union Church’s vision was to build the CE building, and then build a new sanctuary. The congregation, and the community, were experiencing a time of notable growth.  But just as the education building was being completed, church attendance, along with the population of Holly, Hill, began to decline.  The classrooms sat nearly empty, and plans for the new sanctuary were scrapped.  The vision of that building becoming a place where young people could learn and live the love of Jesus, most believed, went unfulfilled.

So the CE building was repurposed into dormitories, a common room, kitchen, shower/bath facilities and utility room - and the congregation decided to host volunteers like ourselves, who went to Volusia County to undertake disaster relief work.  They partnered with Volusia Interfaith/Agencies Networking in Disaster (VIND).  And guess what.  Scores of young people came to Florida to volunteer to spend their time rebuilding homes and recreating community.  In other words, they were learning and living the love of Jesus - the vision of the Union Church was indeed fulfilled - just not in the way they had originally imagined.

This is the way it is with God’s vision for us.  We may understand it in one way, but God may have other things in mind.  Yet the vision endures, even if it looks different from what we had first imagined.  As we read from Habakkuk the other week, “Write the vision, make it plain... for there is still a vision for the appointed time.”

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