Friday, June 24, 2005

the gospel of workcamp

I am tired. For the past week, I've been involved with the Mid Ohio Valley Workcamp. Dana and I served as site leaders for a group of teens that painted one of 41 houses in the area.

The house belongs to a gentleman in his 90's. Over the course of the week, he told us about the 3 years he spent in the service. He told us about the time he spent in Africa in the war. He explained (several times actually) how horrible it was. More than once he said that if he had to stay there one more day, he didn't think he would have made it.

On the day we started the job, all we did was scrape the loose paint off of the house. This is a tedious process, and the house always looks worse after you do it. At the end of that day, the home owner said "This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. These kids have done more for me today than my family does for me in a year."

He told us that his son dropped by with some suggestions about how to paint the house. Then he said "I guess he thinks I'll be gone soon. He just wants it to look good so he can sell it. If he comes by and tries to tell you how to do anything, you just tell him to go jump in the lake."

Sometimes in telling us stories about the war and his family, his language would get a little colorful. He would catch himself and then say "I'm sorry. I don't like to swear, but I've got a lot in my life to swear about."

On the last day, as we were finishing up his house, the owner came back outside. He told us that he wanted to be sure that he thanked us properly. More than once he tried to get us to send him a bill. He just couldn't believe than anyone would do anything like this for him for free. Then, he told a few more stories about the war...about his friends who died "over there". After a few of those stories, he paused for a second as he teared up. "You know," he said, "when I see what these kids are doing, I think maybe those 3 years in Africa were worth it."

The Kingdom of God is a peculiar thing. The kids I work with learned things this week that I can't teach them. The community learned things about what God is like this week without ever cracking a Bible. This week, in spite of all our failings, we were the gospel to each other, our community, and to a 90 year old veteran.

2 Cor. 3:3
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.



Donna G said...

A perfect description of Christianity in action. Thanks for sharing.

Matt Wilson said...


Really enjoyed your thoughts on Work Camp (so much I have them on mine). But I really wanted to say it was great to meet and visit with you some at Work Camp. I'm looking forward getting to know you better and enjoying some more time together. Also, looking forward to our opportunity to minister in Mexico together.

Have a great week!

Jovan said...

Did you operate a Bobcat this year??

The Dating Doctor said...

Thanks for your blog! It is a great outlet from a long day at work!

Keep spreading the good word!!!

-- Kara

Kenny Payne said...

Thanks for the story. I am sure that there are older people all over the world who would love to have such contact from teens. Older people often feel thrown away and not very valuable. Our teens in Ukraine work with older people in a variety of ways and it is hard to say who is getting the most from the encounter, even when the language is a little colorful! Hope that this is just one of the many community building activities you provide for your new group of teens.