In May, a team of Lake Forest Church members embarked on a three-day journey...to Uptown Charlotte. During the Urban Plunge, they lived, served and worshipped together in the city as they uncovered how God is at work in our own backyard through our missio Dei partner organizations.
One of these partners is Love INC (In the Name of Christ), an organization that seeks to mobilize area churches to reach out to hurting people in the name and with the love of Christ. Their mission is simple: In the Name of Christ, to link people with unmet needs with church members willing to meet those needs in such a way that both will be pleased.
During this Plunge, LFC team members worked to build a ramp at the home of a woman...and the results, quite simply, changed her life. Below is a reflection from one of the team members, Teresa Chelko, followed by a story from the ramp recipient - Ms. Karen L. Smith.
FROM TERESA CHELKO:
To take an urban plunge when you live in the suburbs can be huge leap. How can that be when you can
get in your car and drive right through the area you are going to stop and stay in for a few days?
If you have expectations it is really the unexpected that gets you.
The bonding that takes place with the group of people you share this experience with is a treasure all of its own.
Not really knowing what we would do but being told to be flexible no matter what happens sets the stage to...JUST BE OPEN.
We observed, learned, shared, served and studied a book in the Bible.
It all came together as we were given the opportunity to work on a project with Love INC to build a 32-ft wheelchair ramp of a wonderful lady that finds herself having a hard time getting in and out of her home health complications. Arriving at Karen's home we were eager to introduce ourselves and get to work. Love INC had provided us with a master carpenter that told us each step to take. We quickly jumped in to the tasks at hand, each finding what we felt comfortable doing. We had to start with demolition of the front porch railings. We were so excited we began to cheer with each step being accomplished. There were not enough tasks to keep all 9 of us busy so we found time to clean up the front yard and refine two natural areas. Helping to make our ramp building a complete overhaul to Karen's home.
We found that taking the time to visit with Karen was just as valuable as our great building skills. She is a lady that has lived a lot of life and finds herself eager for company and grateful for help. We went to build a ramp and left with a heart for a special lady who touched us all with her desire to thank us and share some of herself with each of us.
FROM MS. SMITH:
How can mere words ever be enough to say thank you to Love INC, Steve Parrot and the wonderful volunteers from Lake Forest Church, Huntersville. I was blessed with their presence on Saturday, May 28, by the building of my ramp and so, so much more, “love was in the air.”
The group arrived at my house around 8:30am, walked up the steps introducing themselves to me and Ramsey, my Golden Retriever puppy with hugs, hello’s and much Christian love. Steve cranked up the generator and the cutting of the wood began. At the same time, other group members took turns tearing down my old wood rails and cheered with each piece they got off. I was so taken aback that I had to look out the window to see what all of the cheering was about and I realized they were as excited as I was to be getting a safe way in and out of my house.
As the 17-year-old son of one of the ladies cut the wood, each member had their particular job to do. Some put the wood in place, one held the nail gun, others decided to spend time with me and talk to me as others worked. I told them my house was their house and they could just come in at any time to cool off, rest, talk, whatever, they made themselves at home.
Pictures were taken, weeds were pulled up, flower bulbs were planted and mulch was delivered to clean up the front part of the yard. My ceramic bunnies and squirrel were strategically placed in the mulch and my garden of love was born and it is so cute!
They brought lunch and while sitting on the part of the ramp that was already finished, we talked, fellowshipped, ate and exchanged stories just like Jesus did with the disciples. Steve finally had to make everyone go back to work. They even walked Ramsey and replaced a blown fuse in the house.
Teresa Chelko, the leader in the group spent time talking with me out m rare eye disease. We cried together as we shared stories about our lives. These folks are my sisters and brothers in Christ!
Around 2:30pm, Steve asked me to come out the front door and try the new ramp. As I walked with my stroller, Ramsey, tears were in my eyes, and they were all cheering...WOW! The only word I could cry out was Hallelujah! I felt so safe and so thankful and now at peace.
We hugged, we cried, I said my “thank you” through the tears as they gave me a planter of flowers to place at the end of the ramp. God also allowed me to give back what I could…I made thank you cards for everyone; I gave ice and water when they needed a drink.
As they boarded their van to leave, I felt a sense of loss because I don’t get a lot of visitors or calls. I went over to the young man, who cut all of the wood and I said these words to him, “Thank you, dear. Not many young men your age would spend their holiday weekend doing this for someone. God has a special blessing on you and much more in store…thank you from the bottom of my heart”. My...My...What A Blessing!!!
Our next Urban Plunge takes place October 20-23, 2011. Be on the lookout for your chance to GO.