Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city.  This year, World Next Door sent a team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation to tell some of the stories from the weekend.

This is one of those stories.

To read all of the Weekend of Service articles, click here.

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Over the weekend, 3,000 people gathered to worship through serving others in need, substituting skirts for shovels and trading polo shirts for work gloves. The sun greeted each day as if God himself was smiling down on us, a divine seal of approval.

Everyone started the morning in Grace’s north parking lot, huddled together to keep warm. I saw families, entire small groups, and even people who had only been to Grace once or twice, cold, but eager to serve. The worship band kicked off the day with a rousing pair of songs that engaged our hearts and prepared us to go out as one body. Dave Rod’ commissioned us, then, as they say, it was on.

The Grace worship band in action.

The Grace worship band in action.

I had the privilege of visiting close to a dozen project sites on Saturday and Sunday, and what I saw inspired me. I saw people sorting clothes for orphans. I watched a group launch themselves out into Indianapolis to pick up pizzas that would otherwise be discarded. A team of eighty people packaged 23,000 meals (by lunch) that will feed 760 kids in Haiti for a month. While visiting Third Phase, I saw two hundred Saturday volunteers buzzing around and working on all kinds of projects, from chopping wood to cleaning the pond. I watched all over at various project sites as people painted, cleaned, and served without inhibitions, not seeking an ounce of recognition, instead opting to humbly get their hands dirty in Jesus’ name. I honestly hope some of the volunteers will follow up with the organizations where they served and establish ongoing relationships with people in need.

Painting at Trinity Church in Indianapolis

Painting at Trinity Church in Indianapolis

I noticed something interesting as each day unfolded; each project location slowly transformed from simply a place to get a job done into holy ground. I watched volunteers take seriously their charge to serve one of seventy organizations we partnered with, and, as they did, they began to share the same heartbeat for the people they served. Each mundane task had become extraordinary, and, I believe, God showed up in little and big ways at every location where people were serving.

This weekend, mundane things became beautiful; here, a donated bike sits in front of a mattress at Third Phase.

This weekend, mundane things became beautiful; here, a donated bike sits in front of a mattress at Third Phase.

The scope and impact of these two days will have ripple effects in eternity. Each one of the thirteen thousand grocery bags of food picked up on front porches will feed families in need through the holiday season (by the way, the estimated amount of food collected was 257,000 pounds) . Every stroke of paint and classroom cleaned provides a small taste of justice to the down and out. Each prayer and petition lifted up to heaven was heard, and God responded in spades. Tiny seeds of justice were planted in the hearts of those who served.

Although the weekend itself isn’t an end to a means, what I saw gave me hope. These folks are highly skilled and well-educated, and their time is incredibly valuable. This large group of people— suburbanites, nonetheless—all showed up and made a big difference, and I hope it won’t stop after just one weekend.

If serving like this becomes a habit, we will no longer have to worry about our neighbors going hungry; if this kind of lifestyle catches on, watch out: we will see more and more of God’s kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven.

As individuals continue to process the impact this weekend had on their lives, my prayer is that they stay engaged in serving others. How will you keep the Weekend of Service going?

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Next Steps
    • If you participated in the GCC Weekend of Service, Stay in touch with the organization you served over the weekend. Find out what ongoing ways you can serve.
    • Looking for some more places to serve? Grace offers even more local outreach opportunities year-round: www.gracecc.org/localoutreach
    • Pray that God will continue to wreck suburban people for His kingdom!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Curtis is a journalist and board member with World Next Door. He graduated in 2003 with a bachelors in religious studies from the University of Oklahoma. He has a strong desire to see the local church engage in issues of social justice.

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Comments

  1. Jo Nading said... 

    Reply

    October 24th, 2009 at 8:22 pm  

    Glad you had a chance to write and take pics. We had a great time at the intern house for Shepherd Community. You guys came at lunch break – and we actually got everything done asked of us! Now to do more of the things NOT asked of us…the things we see as we serve – or hear – or…smell!

    Ya know – you are so right that God was shining down on us. Saturday, as we headed east to get on 37, there was this “patch” of rainbow in the sky – it was soooo cool. It was like God was sending us a message – in his “promise format” – that he would take this day and bless it fully – bless the givers and the receivers. My family was quite taken by the sight and it just made us smile.

    thanks for sharing Curtis.

  2. Amy Sorrells said... 

    Reply

    October 25th, 2009 at 2:51 pm  

    As earth as it is in Heaven. Amen, Curtis!

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