Back to School Block Party

(This is long past overdue, but I wanted to be sure to have tons of pictures of this event. I've also been incredibly busy. Such is the life of a bi-vocational pastor! Thank you all for reading! For your patience, for your prayers, for your love. I promise to be back to blogging more regularly from now on!) 
       I lost count of how many 12 hour days I put in the 2 weeks preceding our block party event. It was the biggest event I have ever attempted in my entire professional career. I'm not a big event person, and so I tend to opt for intimate settings where deep discussion has room to cultivate, but I made an exception, because I so deeply care for the kids in my neighborhood (and city), and I know the difficulties of paying for school supplies, plus I do like a good party.
        The idea of a back to school block party was formed, in order to just really celebrate with our neighbors, to get school supplies into the hands of students, and say thank you to any teachers who might attend.
        Our goal was to see 150 people walk through the door, just to know they are loved and that we are here in the neighborhood. Filling 150 grab bags was no small feat, and I am so grateful I had tons of help to do it. We wanted to ensure that every kid that walked through the door had at the minimum, basic school supplies to start school.
     We were overwhelmed by the generosity of others as we were able to fill all 150 bags with a pencil case (including pencils, erasers, pens, etc.), a folder, and a notebook, as well as some candy and other treats. 

       Another goal of ours was to bless any teacher that came through the door with a thank you gift. Whatever we got that could go in a bin for teachers, we would put together. The outpouring of love from others enabled us to fill 30 bins with kleenex, dry erase markers, hand sanitizer, post it notes, pens, pencils, rulers, motivational stickers, a stocked pencil case to give to a student in need, AND a gift card to get coffee. These were beautifully put together by a high school volunteer.

  During the night we had 3 Chinese teachers (they teach Chinese language and culture in our school system) wander in. They told me they were just walking by and had only been in the country for 2 weeks. Two of them had never been to the United States before. I gave them their gifts, and they kept saying "oh no! We can't accept this! What did we do to deserve this?" We just smiled and told them that we wanted to say thank you, and help them in their new classrooms this year. They were overjoyed and I was so blessed to meet them. 

      But this story is more than just a story about a successful event (how do we define success anyway), it's really a story about the faithfulness of God and what can happen when God's people come together. You see that guy overseeing the cooler filling? He pastors at another church on our district, and he and another pastor from their church, brought a bunch of volunteers to help us with this event. It wasn't a competition, it was just God's people helping each other out to do great things. Not only that, their church, Duneland Community Church, did a beverage drive for us which enabled us to have so many awesome drinks at our event. The kingdom of God looks like churches coming together to love others. 

     We also had live rap music by amazing artist Da Mac, who drove here from Missouri to bless us with his talent and gifts. The audience was overjoyed, the oldest to the youngest were dancing, and we saw a glimpse of the kingdom of God through rap music in a 70 year old sanctuary. It was beautiful. 
    We made new friends and partners in Faith, who has a non-profit called Purple Diamonds Inc, and Moe, who owns and operates her own barber shop. They prayed over our event, and partnered with us, passing out flyers, donating supplies and time, and giving free hair cuts to nearly every student that came through the doors. Sometimes the kingdom of God looks like haircuts near the platform in a sanctuary, and strangers becoming friends.

     Our church hosts Al-Anon a couple nights a week, and our ladies were at the door to greet all of our attendees. They were our greatest cheerleaders of the night, telling everyone about our church, and talking about hope and healing with our neighbors. Sometimes the kingdom of God looks like neighbors helping neighbors. 
     We put a big bounce house in the back of our sanctuary and it was a hit! Kids would walk in with faces lit up, and the laughter and shouts resounded through the building. Sometimes the kingdom of God shows up in the noise of children. 

     That night the kingdom of God looked like chaos and laughter, like yard games and hot dogs, like hair cuts and bounce houses. It sounded like rap music and laughter, squeals and conversation. It sounded like a beautiful cacophony of neighbors coming together, of the Church coming together to be the Church, in perfectly imperfect and messy ways. God showed up, and the biggest way God showed up was through the people of God. 
      Through people who gave money, who gave time, who sent box upon box of school supplies, who prayed, who volunteered. God showed up through all of you, and our lives, and the lives of our neighborhood will forever be touched because God showed up through people like you! 
      The kingdom of God is alive in Hammond, we are just grateful we got to see a glimpse of it on a hot summer night this August. We are excited to see where the kingdom of God will be glimpsed next. 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2016. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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