(sunrise over the Appalachian Mountains...)
I got back from Kentucky last night. Wow. What a trip! There is no way I could describe to you everything that happened in 1 blog post, so I'm going to spread it out over a few posts.
The main purpose of our trip was to serve with Heritage Ministries in their ministry to the Tri-Cities (Lynch, Benham, and Cumberland) in Harlan County, Kentucky. The term "Tri-Cities" is a tad deceiving, and a bit of a gross overstatement, however. It's a bit like calling our modest 2 bedroom ranch a mansion. This part of the country is very poor. I won't go into the details of how poor, but you can get an idea here...
Tonight, I'll tell you about our Bible studies that we had during the week, as well as a little about one of the families we worked with.
We had a Bible study every night, during which we focused a lot on this passage from Ephesians 4:
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
We also looked at Philippians 1:27
27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
What, exactly, does it mean to "live a life worthy of the calling" we have received? How do we conduct ourselves "in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ"? We focused on how we are to be a witness for God. How the world can see Christ in what we do. The time we spent in The Word was definitely the hightlight for me. One of our pastors (Dave Johnson) came with us, and he led the study each night. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dave, his love of God, his heart for evangelism, and his knowledge of the Bible.
God used this week to stretch me and my faith as well. One of the things I was challenged about was my perception of the poor, and my tendency to pre-judge people based soley on their appearence. We'll get into that in a later post...
One of the families we helped lived in a trailer on the side of a mountain. They had lived in a single trailer for 6 years. The husband is unable to work because of medical problems (as are many people in the area). Their old trailer was falling apart, and this past fall, someone donated a used double-wide trailer to them to live in. So, they tried to take down the old trailer. When they hooked it up to the truck, the old trailer basically fell apart, so someone brought in a bulldozer and pushed it off the side of the driveway. And there it sits.
The "new" trailer was brought in. How they got it up the driveway, I'll never know. Anyway, the new one was put in back in November. Unfortunately, they couldn't afford to run new sewer lines to thier septic tank (actually, they did hook up the toilet line, thankfully...). Our job was to hook up sewer lines from his sinks, toilet, shower, and washer to the septic. The old ones were just draining out to the ground around the trailer. Like this one...
See the white pipe sticking down? That's the kitchen sink drain. The ground all around the trailer was a mess of water and mud. See?
So, we got the new sewer line installed and working fine! That was day 1 of work.
Please pray for the people of Lynch. Also, please pray for Jeff and Linda Sim. They are the ones that run Heritage Ministries. They felt called by God to leave their home in Illinois and move to Kentucky five years ago. They have an incredible love for the people of Lynch, and are willing to serve God in whatever place they can. They live on support that people send them, and are a true inspiration to all of us!
To be continued...