One team was at the Elm Street Art Center. Sojourn, like many church plants, is trying to connect themselves to the city in order to bless the city. They had two areas of props and supplies that was in total chaos. We reorganized the area completely.
Elm Street meets in the old FBC Woodstock building. We went to Home Depot and bought supplies so that we could build a deck over the baptistery so that the actors would have a floor to walk on.
The second team went to a lady named Judith’s house. She is a single mom who is battling a leg injury. Her circumstances has caused her to fall behind on the upkeep of her house and the city has a lawsuit in motion to fine her. Our team pulled the weeds in front of her house and we were planning on painting it, but the team before us had not prepped it in time. We were able to purchase the paint and supplies for the house so that we could relieve some of the financial pressure from Sojourn.
After finishing Judith’s house, the moved to Stephanie’s house. Stephanie and her family have moved into a new house and are financially struggling. We put three coats of paint on the walls in her son’s room.
One of the highlights for this team was to hang out with Matt. Matt’s a nineteen year old member of Sojourn who is planning on being a pastor. He was assigned to this team for the day and it was a lot of fun to meet someone else that is the same age as the team who is loving and serving Jesus, too.
At the end of the day we left Woodstock and headed to the Atlanta Braves game. Our goal was to eat at a fast food restaurant on the way to the game, but we are staying so close to Turner Field that we didn’t pass one place before we parked. That meant we were eating at the ballpark. The Braves played the Minnesota Twins and it was the first time that the Twins had ever played a regular season game in Atlanta (and they have been around for several decades). We were part of history! After cheering the Braves on to a win, we headed home, packed, and are going to sleep so we can be out of here at 6:45am to head to the airport.
The fifth day might have been the most difficult day of all – not because of what we did, but rather because of what we couldn’t do. We started the morning with a 45 minute drive to Woodstock, Georgia, where we served with Trent Chambers, the plant pastor at Sojourn Community Church. Sojourn planted less than a year ago and they are currently meeting on Sunday nights at an Anglican church. Since they have church at night, we were working during the day.
We arrived in Woodstock and met Trent at a local bank/coffee shop where he shared with the team about Woodstock and the church. We then headed over to a park to clean up after a festival that was there the night before. The Parks and Rec department of Woodstock had done the heavy lifting in the clean up the night before, but we spent about 45 minutes getting the small pieces of trash out of the park. This is one of those ministries that helps build good will between the church and the community so we were pumped about doing it. There was a slight drizzle the entire time we were picking up trash and that was a hint of what was to come later.
At 11:00, we met Trent at FUMC Woodstock for worship. This church has dwindled over the years to just a handful of people, but Trent has been praying for them. Next week, Sojourn is having a city-wide cookout at the FUMC campus and inviting all of the area churches to come and fellowship and pray for the city. He felt like it would be encouraging to the church if we joined them for worship.
After worship, we ate our sack lunches in the van and began to contemplate what was next. The agenda for today involved painting and doing door-to-door surveys, but the rain was coming down pretty steady at that point. Trent suggested that maybe God was going to allow us to have a sabbath rest and to reflect on what has happened so far. He also suggested we go see Star Trek at the theater 🙂
We decided to drive to one of the neighborhoods and see if the rain would stop. It didn’t, so we drove slowly through the neighborhood and prayed over the houses. We say a car that has “Pray for Emily” shoe polished on it so we stopped and sent two people of our team up to the door to find out what we were praying for. You can read her story and pray for her here.
After “prayer driving” we went to the mall in Canton. While we were there, we prayer walked the mall and then met in the food court to reflect on our week and the past year. We each shared what verses had affected our life the most over the past year and what verses we would consider to be our “life verse.” We processed some of the feelings that come with not being able to work like we wanted to because of the weather.
After we left the mall, we drove to the neighborhood that we had driven through. The rain had finally stopped so we split up into three teams to start going door to door with the survey. One of the groups met some very unfriendly people and were informed that the neighborhood had a “no solicitation” policy. We loaded up into the van after hitting just a few houses and drove to the front of the neighborhood to see if there actually was a sign that prohibited knocking on doors. There was . . . oops!
Trent had given us another neighborhood so we drove there. They also had a sign that prohibited knocking on doors. Apparently, Georgia is not “Texas friendly.” By that time, it was nearly 5pm so we drove over to worship with Sojourn Community Church.
After church, we drove back to Atlanta. Most of the group wanted Chinese food for dinner so we found a place fairly close to where we are staying and had dinner together. We got back to the church at around 9pm and everyone headed to bed. That alone out to tell you that even though today wasn’t as fulfilling as we had hoped, we are still pretty worn out.
Our work projects were supposed to start at 9am, but our contact didn’t arrive until after 10am. Our sitting around waiting turned into both a precursor of the rest of the day and a great time of conversation. Yesterday while we were working in the alley, we met some of the neighbors. They happened to be a homosexual couple and antagonistic towards the church. We had a great conversation about homosexuality and the state of the church.
This was our second day scheduled at Woodland Hills, but they didn’t have much for us to do. Once we got started the guys took the chainsaw after several trees and it was enough to keep them busy most of the day. The girls on the other hand, finished their task within an hour. No one could come up with anything for us to do and we looked around trying to find something that we thought would be helpful, but kept drawing a blank. We had a phone number for Christine who is the Community Minister at the church. We gave her a call and she pointed us to a clothes closet that needed clothes sorted and put into a spreadsheet for tracking. That ended up being a perfect job for the afternoon. Both the outside team and the inside team finished at the same time.
Since the day was slower than normal and we knew we’d finish early if we worked at our normal pace, we decided to take lunch off-site. Normally we eat sandwiches, but today we went to The Dwarf House. The Dwarf House is the very first Chick-fil-a. It was a pretty cool experience. There are two dining rooms. One is similar to any Chick-fil-a, but the other is a dining area where you sit and are waited on. In that dining room you can order off the original menu. Some of our team had the chicken sandwich, since this is where is supposed to have been invented. Others had chicken and waffles, the famous “hot brown,” and we even ordered a hamburger! After lunch we did a “kitchen tour” to see behind the scenes.
Another highlight of our day was being able to minister to Germane. Last night, after the movie, Brett drove Germane home because it was raining. We discovered that he lived a mile from the church and walks each day back and forth. It just so happened that on one of the trips to Wal-mart for supplies, we drove past a yard sale. There were two bikes in for sale and we ended up buying a pretty nice bike and giving it to Germane.
After our work day, we drove out to Stone Mountain Park where we had dinner on the terrace that overlooks Stone Mountain. Some of our group took the SkyTram to the top of the mountain. The dinner ended with a laser light and firework show.
It’s 11:15pm as I’m typing this and we are eagerly awaiting our midnight trip back to The Dwarf House/Chick-fil-a. They are open until 4am. This means we are going to do what few have done before. We are going to eat at Chick-fil-a on Sunday!
Today was the first day we served with Rusty Couch and Woodland Hills Baptist Church (where we are staying). We woke up this morning and our first assignment was a Home Depot run to take back lights that the church had purchased, pick up a chainsaw chain, and get work gloves. After the supply run we started working in the back alley. The end of the driveway into the church is an open lot that the church is planning on turning into a basketball court. They will lay down asphalt, install basketball goals (which they have loaned out to a local Upward program right now), and put in bleachers. They’ll use the court as a local outreach. We were part of the very beginning of that process. Along the outer edges of this area is a lot of vegetation and a chain link fence that was in disrepair. We worked solid for 6+ hours just clearing out vegetation and the fence. The vegetation itself at actually grown in and around the fence in places.
The highlight of the day for the guy was when the front loader showed up. Learning how to drive it was like an early Christmas for them. They actually had to tie rope to the fence and pull the final piece out with the front loader. A lot of work was done, but there isn’t much to describe because it was all in one place.
After working, we cleaned up and went to dinner at The Varsity which is an Atlanta icon. We were able to take Germone and Javante to dinner with us. Javante is currently an intern at Woodland Hills and Germone will be a summer intern (he’s currently a freshman in college). After a dinner of chili dogs and onion rings, we dropped Javante off and the rest of headed out to a late movie. Since college students live at the movies, there wasn’t a movie out that the entire group had not seen so we split up into three groups and saw Star Trek, Iron Man 3, and 42.
This morning we headed out to work with a church planter named Matt Dye. Matt and his family moved from Kentucky nearly a year ago to plant here in Atlanta. Matt is actually one of the church planters that FBC already supports financially.
Matt is in the final months of an apprenticeship where he has been connected to another Atlanta-area church planter to learn from while he is building relationships and learning the culture of his new home. The life of a church planter is difficult. Outside of having to raise support, many are also bi-vocational. Matt recently invested in a Kona Ice truck to help support his family while following this call of God on his life. One of the first things we did this morning was drive around Matt’s area and hear his story.
Our job today was to help Matt continue to minister to his community and build we relationships. We did that by joining the staff of E. Rivers Elementary School to serve them. E. Rivers (not East Rivers) is a school that was built in the 1950s, but it is in a state of transition. The Atlanta Public School system recently finished out a brand new high school. A local middle school moved into the old high school and E. Rivers is going to move into the vacated middle school while their school is torn down and rebuilt. Two years from now E. Rivers will move back into a brand new facility. School gets out on Wednesday and the teachers have to have everything moved out by the following day!
After signing in at the school we split up into four different groups. We helped the P.E. teachers, the music teacher, the Challenge teacher (still not sure what that is), and the library. Our day consisted of making boxes and filling boxes. It wasn’t very exciting from a blog reader’s perspective, but the staff was overjoyed and continually thanking us for serving today.
After we finished we headed to Roswell, Georgia. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to go twenty miles . . . love that Atlanta traffic at rush hour J We played the Urban Spoon game to decide where to eat. In the Urban Spoon game, you use the Urban Spoon app and let it randomly select a restaurant to eat at. Each person in the van gets one “veto.” If a restaurant gets vetoed, then you pick another random restaurant. You do this until everyone you have a winner. We landed on the Fickle Pickle. On the way to the Fickle Pickle we were amazed at how terrible traffic was in a suburb. It seemed like someone had outlawed green lights. We finally arrived on the street that the Fickle Pickle was on only to discover that Roswell has a “third Thursday” event for the entire city. No parking anywhere! So we went to Chick-fil-a (anti-climatic, I know).
We ended the night at Whirlyball. Whirlyball is a mixture of bumper cars, jai alai, and basketball. It is a lot of fun. We played guys vs girls until the girls were thoroughly embarrassed and then we switched up teams.
We concluded the night hanging out at the church talking about church planting, jobs, church, and life in general. Everyone is tired and sore already which says we’ve had a great day!
This is the second Reunion trip that we’ve taken. Reunion is about FBCGT youth ministry alumni coming together to change the world. Part of the fun is reconnecting with students who are off to college or out in the marketplace working. FBC Georgetown is looking to build some partnerships in Atlanta where our former pastor, Dr. Jim Haskell, serves as the Executive Director and Lead Strategist at Urban Atlanta Church Planting. What that means is that he has his hands right in the middle of any church planting effort that is happening through the North American Mission Board in and around Atlanta.
A group of eight met at FBC Georgetown at 4:45am in order to catch the cheapest flight we could find to Atlanta. Our trip to the Austin airport, to Atlanta, and to the rental car agency went off without a hitch (thank you Jesus!). After loading up in the 15 passenger van we rented in Atlanta we drove to Woodland Hills Baptist Church which is where we are staying this week.
WBHC has a fabulous story. The church was shrinking and they brought in church planter Rusty Couch to try to revitalize the aging church. The building is enormous, but there weren’t enough people to fill the building. At the same time, the heating in the church was totally out. The few people in attendance sat through services in the winter with coats and scarves on with their breath being seen as they sang each Sunday morning. Rusty proposed to the chruch leadership that after they fix the heater that they should turn the top floor of the building into a dorm setting in order to house mission groups for the city. The leadership agreed, but on the Sunday of the business meeting to make that decision official, the chairman of the deacons met Rusty before the vote and told him he had changed his mind and that he felt the agreed upon plan was not in the best interest of the church. To Rusty’s surprise, during the meeting the leadership suggested that the church suffer through one more winter without a heater in order to build the upstairs dorm rooms first so that they could help people reach their city for Jesus! Here is the best part of the story – while they were renovating the upstairs, a plumber who was donating his time towards the work found out about the broken furnace and made a few phone calls. Shortly thereafter, a brand new furnace was donated free of charge! We’re benefitting from that story today, because we are staying in those dorms!
After dropping our stuff off, we picked up Jim Haskell for lunch. We ate lunch at Flip Burger Boutique which is a gourmet hamburger place. The highlight for our students was the Krispy Kreme milkshake and the Nutella and Toasted Marshmallow milkshake! After lunch we spent a few hours on a tour around the city. Jim helped out team understand the culture of Atlanta and a lot about church planting.
We dropped Jim off and then headed to the Coca Cola Museum. The museum if very well done and we had a good time looking at exhibits and seeing the 4D movie. Everyone closes out their trip through the museum in the “Taste It Room.” In this room, there are more than 30 different Coke products from around the world and you can taste every one of them! Some were fun (like Watermelon), other tasted like carbonated battery acid.
We headed to Walmart to buy groceries and grabbed Subway for dinner to take back to Woodland Hills. After dinner and setting up our rooms, a couple of us made another trip to Walmart to get some fans for our rooms. By the time we got back at 9pm almost everyone was already asleep! It was a full day! So full that I’m not even going to proofread this before I post it and go to bed 🙂