Today I had the awesome privilege of participating in the summer youth employment celebration at Fresh Ministries. I was graciously invited to this event when I told one of the staff members that I wanted to learn more about some of the needs of the community and how local non-profits are already addressing those needs. I can't tell you how impressed I was by what they are doing to bring hope to the East Jacksonville and Springfield communities. The Beaver Street Enterprise Center houses the Jacksonville Hospitality Institute, which trains students (including international refugees) in job skills. It also houses numerous entrepreneurs seeking to start new businesses, providing them with the necessary support to improve their likelihood of success. They are investing in the lives of people, helping to build a stronger community and creatively redesigning their ministry to address the shifting needs of their neighbors.
I believe this is the type of ministry Jesus modeled during his life and ministry. Jesus was all about people, relationships and responding to needs. He was led by God to many different people and places, and he responded to each need with wisdom and care. I dream of leading a church to be on mission in this way - a church that is about people, relationships and responding to need; a church that not only cares for souls, but for lives; a church that listens and goes where they sense God leading them.
The ceremony today was closed by the youth being challenged to "keep dreaming!" They were told they can do anything they dream of doing. What a great message for any of us ... whether it be dreams of a new church movement or a new job opportunity, we must not lose hope as we continue life's journey.