Friday, February 5, 2010

Funny How Focusing On Ministry Works Out

Funny how focusing on ministry works out.

Common Ground is rehabbing an old home to be used as transitional housing and for church activities in a near-westide neighborhood in Indianapolis. On Thursday we got a helping hand from two companies. Pete Malloy from Jobsite Supply in Indianaapolis knew we've been doing a whole-house rehab on a shoe-string budget and contacted Tim Kenworthy from Fomo Products. Tim sent a team the 240 miles from Norton, OH to demonstrate the ability of their low-pressure foam system to seal a house from heat-robbing air infiltration for a weatherization class that was invited to observe.

It was a blessing to have the house sealed like this before we did the rest of the insulation. But things didn't work out the way I expected.

When I arrived at the house not all the prep work was done. Not a big problem - but my friend Troy, whose volunteer ministry helping the poor helped get us started in the neighborhood, wasn't focusing on getting it done.

Instead, a woman who was attending the weatherization class was talking to him and Troy was telling her about his throat cancer treatments, how his health crisis woke him up, he stopped being a drug dealer and what he was doing to help build up the neighborhood that he had been destroying. In my mind I was thinking "Troy, that is good but we've got to open up the floor downstairs so they can spray the foam on the joists and sill plates." I didn't say anything - I figured that we would lose a few minutes with Troy not focusing on the prep, but we would still get the final prep work downstairs finished while the upstairs was being sealed.

A few minutes later this woman came up to me and asked "Why did Troy tell me that story?" I mumbled something about, "Well, that is Troy." (I love Troy - he is completely upfront with people and under his crusty exterior he has a real gift of empathy.) Another few minutes and this lady dashes downstairs. Then Troy goes downstairs.

A few more minutes go by and the foam application demonstration upstairs is continuing. (They sealed the house up tight as a drum.) But I don't hear the sound of saws downstairs, so I go downstairs to see if there is a problem.

Troy is there with the woman and her husband. They've been crying together. Turns out the woman had had surgery in her neck for cancer.  Troy talking about his cancer and how he is dealing with it caught her totally off guard and gave voice to deep-seated concerns she had. She wasn't sure how much to give to God and what she should be doing. Then they shared with me how they were supporting a 29 bed drug addiction rehabilitation home in Richmond, IN as a ministry and valued greatly what we were doing. We're looking forward to getting to know them better.

Then Tim from Fomo Products came to review the project and we talked. He loves ministry work. He had gone to New Orleans after Katrina to work on homes. We compared notes about Katrina relief - Common Ground had organized a Katrina relief project in Pascagoula, MS to help. Tim was thrilled that this project was helping a ministry.

While we were talking, the man applying the foam (also named Tim) pulled off his mask and told us about his best friend who lives south of Indianapolis and owns an appliance repair business. He said he was going to call his friend and see about getting some appliances donated.

When I am in my "driver" mode I focus on getting things done. Looking at the series of events on Thursday morning, for those familiar with the story in Luke 10, call me "Mr. Martha." You see, Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping serve the crowd at the house where Jesus was teaching. Jesus helped Martha realize that there was a higher set of priorities - and listening to Jesus was a higher priority.

Now friends, don't call Troy "Mr. Mary." He won't understand and will probably let you know in colorful terms where you might be heading in the afterlife. (As in "Go to ____") But a little later, Troy told me that talking to this woman about her needs was more important than getting the insulation done.

You know, Troy was right about what was important. That morning, I think Troy was listening to Jesus. As it turned out, it wasn't and either/or situation. We could listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and get the house sealed.

What was remarkable to me was that "by accident" I made 4 new friends who are interested in helping the poor, those imprisoned with addictions and sharing blessings with others.

It wasn't "by accident." When I focus on ministry - works of service - God connects me with more people in a different way. A few years ago I didn't know how to engage in this kind of ministry. Being open to opportunities and saying "yes" to some of them has given God the means to teach me.

It's kind of funny how focusing on ministry works out.



On a "Martha" note, this week we are having Sabbath services at 2:30 PM at the MTC office. Next week we are helping the Cincinnati Church of God host the President's Day Young Adults Retreat here in Indianapolis. Our services will be combined with the retreat. Call Common Ground at 317-707-5026 if you have any questions or interest.

Guy Swenson

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