Hello Hello out there to all you wonderful, wonderful people. No, I am not Paige. This is her soon to be other half, even though technically I outweigh her enough to be more than 3/5 of the total mass within the relationship… but let’s not get bogged down in details. I have been dreading, I mean patiently longing, for the day that Paige asked me to write my first guest blog post. Now that she has handed me the reigns I will permanently temporarily be running the show. Under my regime, which will last forever (or until Paige makes me give it back), those of you faithful blog readers will be among the most privileged of interweb users to the most average of writing, moderately interesting of story telling, and all-around decentish entertainment. Have you strapped in for the ride of your life yet? Of course not, that would be ridiculous, as most computer chairs don’t have seatbelts. Regardless, let’s proceed anyways…
Port St. Joe.
If a guy hasn’t at some point fantasized about running a wrecking ball for a day, experimenting with volatile chemicals, or finding himself outnumbered but not necessarily outmatched in a impromtu ninja fight then you’re right- all guys dream of such moments. The awesome part of my spring break is that I while I will not be technically allowed to blow things up I will get to destroy things and work with my hands. I will be going to Port St. Joe for FBCO’s spring break trip called Amplify. This will make my 6th (yes I know I’m old) Amplify and 5th spring break in Port St. Joe. My construction team, comprised of only elite (or they will sob under my merciless leadership) demolition crewmembers, is charged with destroying a house. Don’t worry the city of PSJ asked us to. A house divided by several sledge hammers cannot stand…and our one single purpose to divide.
It hasn’t always been all fun and power tools. The unfortunate reality is that 5 years ago we were not welcomed with the warmest of greetings. It really was an old southern town with white people – railroad tracks – and black people, and you didn’t cross the tracks. The schools were integrated, but that’s about it. I believe the exact unedited words yelled at me from a certain barbershop were, “By golly, what in the tarnation has crossed your Caucasian-behind mind to think you can just cross the Judeo-Christian deity aqua-fortificationed railroad track? Politely depart from this place promptly, good day sir!” …or something like that.
2 years later we kept coming back, and the coolest of things had happened. Racial barriers of generations-long hatred and awkwardness were being obliterated. The churches in the community frequently met to meet the needs of the people in the community, and there were and still are many needs. The youth groups committed to holding monthly city-wide functions- crossing denominational, economic and racial lines. The city was a shell of its formerly vintage 60’s town self.
Here’s the point: This city, much like many other cities of both today and yore, was a mess. People were hurting in poverty and lived in animosity with their neighbors. But that’s not uniquely PSJ, we’re all a mess. The only solution is when you introduce God into the chaos equation. I don’t know where you stand on the power of God, but I can tell you I have witnessed with my eyes a transformation of an entire town from a simply message: that there is a God in heaven who made you for a purpose, but you along with every other human rebelled from that purpose. And you are a mess, but in his mercy he extends to you forgiveness of your sins. It’s not that the sin goes unpunished, but rather that your punishment was taken for you by the man Jesus. When that amount of undeserved grace is extended to you, it changes your life and thinking. There is no room for hatred, only forgiveness, for the one who has been forgiven THAT much. THAT is how a town is healed. When love encountered is truly realized it can’t stay there. Love encountered moves out to become love shared.
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he love us, and sent his son to be the propitiation (payment) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” -1 John 4:10-11