Two things you need to know as I start this post.
First, Journey Christian Church has been supporting a local public school for the past 3 1/2 years by feeding 50-70 families a week. Roughly 90% of the students at John Evans IB Middle School are on the food program. Our support for John Evans has expanded from feeding families to also include an annual Christmas party for the students, sponsoring dances, volunteering at sports events, random acts of kindness for the staff and administration, providing breakfast during testing, supplying paper, and a lot more.
We have grown to deeply love the students, staff, and administration of John Evans. The connection we feel to this school is deep.
Second, this summer we’re studying the book of Nehemiah at Journey. After beginning this series, I felt the Lord leading us to do a great work as a church, as individuals, and as families.
In the book of Nehemiah we see the story of how God used Nehemiah and the people of Israel to do a great work–they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in only 52 days. As the project was nearing completion–and after a lot of external and internal conflict–Sanballat, a local governor who was intent on harming Nehemiah and keeping the walls from being completed, requested a last-minute meeting with Nehemiah. Nehemiah knew that Sanballat meant to do him harm and was only trying to keep the walls of Jerusalem from being completed, so he rejected Sanballat’s request by saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:3).
As a church we’ve been praying that God would lead us to a great work we could do in our community.
Our plan was to begin the great work on July 10th and finish it 52 days later.
Following Nehemiah’s example, I began to pray and seek God’s will in this matter.
I also asked people in the church, leaders in the community, ministers in this area, and even reached out to the Principal of John Evans for ideas on what we could do as a great work in our community but she was out on bereavement leave so I ended up talking with her assistant. Nothing we discussed felt like it was the great work God we were supposed to do.
A week ago, I was invited to meet with the City Manager of Greeley to see if we could together identify a great work Journey could do for the community. We met for a couple of hours and had a wonderful meeting, but I left there with no clarity about what Journey’s great work was supposed to be.
And then, last week, a great work walked right into our front door.
Dawn, the Principal of John Evans has started attending Journey and has been coming for several months. She came up to me last week before our 3rd service, mentioned my phone call to her assistant, and asked what I wanted. I explained that I was looking for a great work that Journey could do for our community and that I wondered if there was anything we could do at John Evans.
She said, “Could you guys paint our halls?”
John Evans IB Middle School is a very old school and is in need of a ton of repairs. The school’s administration is fighting hard to secure funds from the state to build a new school but, so far, they’ve been denied. The school is stuck in a very challenging situation. Although it is yet to be approved, the School District is treating John Evans as if the campus will be leveled within 3-5 years and be rebuilt elsewhere, so there is a reluctance to spend money on capital improvements. The school district’s plan is just to maintain the campus as well as possible. But, Dawn has a growing school to run and a campus to maintain, so she’s kind of stuck in a situation that is requiring her to be creative with limited–or no–funding.
On top of it all, the campus is full of asbestos so even the most basic physical improvements to the campus are dangerous and not an option.
So, Dawn asked if we could paint all of the hallways and cafeteria of the school because they don’t have the money to and the interior of the school hasn’t been painted in over a decade. She mentioned that painting the interior of the school would improve the atmosphere of the campus and lift the spirits of the students and staff.
I said, “Yes!”
Last Monday, our Adult Minister and I had a discussion with the Principal of John Evans and 2 representatives from the school district. Within 5 minutes the school district officials had given us permission to paint the hallways at John Evans.
We agreed and THEN walked the hallways of John Evans with the painter (Steve Dale, who is from Journey and who is taking vacation to oversee this massive project), Dawn, and the representatives from the school district. As we walked hallway after hallway, it began to become clear how big this job was going to be.
The tour ended in the cafeteria where we all agreed that the project would begin in one week! That’s today…in 2 hours!
So, it’s been a busy week as we’ve seen God bring an amazing plan and team of volunteers together.
I need to head over to the school soon, so let me quickly give you some of the highlights of the past week:
–We purchased 150 gallons of paint, 100 gallons of primer, and painting supplies at a cost of about $5,000.
–Yesterday, hundreds of people from Journey signed up to work from 10-7 every day this week.
–A team of people volunteered to feed all of the volunteers at school all week.
–A mom from Journey has volunteered to organize child-care for parents of young kids who are helping with this project.
And these are my two favorite God-things:
–We have a prayer team who is going to walk the halls of the school all week-long and pray in the classrooms.
–We have a team of people who are going to write Scriptures on all of the walls before we paint them. We’re going to cover that school, and surround those dear students, with God’s Word.
Only God could do something like this!
I see God’s hand all over this painting job at John Evans.
God has given us an incredible opportunity to minister to the students and teachers of this school and to claim that school for God.
This week is not about paint; it’s about people and…in particular, it’s about those kids and teachers and administrators at that school.
What we’re doing this week is going to echo in eternity.
Each day this week, I will post an update and share some of the highlights from our great work at John Evans Middle School.
If you’re in the area and you’d like to join us, just come on by and we’ll put you to work.
If you’re not in the area and you’d like to support our effort we’d covet your prayers. If you’d like to financially support this great work, you can donate to the project online here: Journey’s Great Work.
Oh, and don’t try to distract us this week from what God has called us to do because, if you do, we’re going to say, “We are doing a great work and we cannot come down.” :)