Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reflections on Lakeshore 2014

In talking to a lot of people over the week at Lakeshore, there were a few themes that came up frequently in conversation. Many people have come to Lakeshore for years now, and are always encouraged by the progress that's made each year. They've seen utter devastation and have watched as the community slowly rebuilds. For example, when the group came down for the first time, the water was so contaminated no one could even touch it. Although they still boil all the water used for drinking, it has come a long way from that first year. After hearing about the original conditions, the unpleasant sulphuric smell of the water was suddenly much more bearable. For the first few years the kitchen was a collection of trailers set together. Now they have an actual building!

It seems counter-intuitive, but the week at Lakeshore is a time of rest and peace. This isn't something one would expect to come out of a missions trip, but I guess Lakeshore just defies stereotypes. Despite the rigorous schedule, it is still such a blessed respite from the busyness of life. I think much of this peace comes from the fact that we spend the week working alongside other believers. When we are laboring with our family in Christ, the work seems much less like work. This was especially evident when talking to those on the construction teams. Most of these folks work in rough occupations which can be discouraging and even hostile to Christians. So being able to use their skills and work with other Christians is an incredible blessing. For those who have attended for many years, they commented that returning this year felt like coming home, and even though this is just my second year, I also felt a sense of peace and belonging when I arrived.

Over the years at Lakeshore, people have developed friendships, watched teens grow into adults, and have even seen some converted. It has truly been a blessing to witness God working in the lives of so many others. Also, really strong connections have been formed among churches across the country. Lakeshore is a great opportunity to get a glimpse into what God is doing outside our own local church.

This year the emphasis has been on creating, rather than rebuilding. Roger Clark brought this up when I was talking to him about the church building. Up to this year they were primarily focused on renovating and fixing existing structures. But this year they are creating something completely new. And just as God created a neatly ordered and well designed world, the construction crews are doing the same with the church. The Lord as the craftsman of the universe takes delight in the intricacies and details that we will never see and in a small way, the craftsmen working on the church find pleasure in doing their work well, not for praise from man, but for the glory of God. Everything was done as well as it possibly could be, from the siding to the electrical wiring, but after the building is done no one is going to look at it and say, "oh wow, look at that impeccable wiring!" It is done well solely for God's glory.

These are a few thoughts on what Lakeshore has meant to people over the past few years. This year there was much talk about what the future of the Lakeshore Project will be. I spoke to Brother Mitch on Friday and I wanted to share some of the thoughts that he mentioned.

For those who haven't been closely connected with this project from the beginning, it is hard to understand Pastor Don's situation and the grace God has given him to persevere. While others would have bailed out and sought a fresh start in another place, Pastor Don has sacrificed his own goals for the church and community. With this week's focus on perseverance, Pastor Don has been an incredible example to us.

Lakeshore is truly a foretaste of Heaven. In the Garden Adam and Eve were commanded to work--and likewise we will labor in Heaven. But it won't be wrought with difficulty and pain as it is in this fallen world. We were made to work, and in Heaven that purpose will be perfectly and completely fulfilled. At Lakeshore we are able to experience that in a very small way. Everything that we appreciate about Lakeshore will be exponentially better in Heaven. It makes me think of the Chronicles of Narnia; in The Last Battle Jill was bemoaning that their glorious times in Narnia always had to come to an end, but as it turns out, all their experiences in Narnia were only a foretaste of the real Narnia which had no end. Our time at Lakeshore is brief, but it will be infinitely better--and eternal--in Heaven.

So, going forward from here. The big question is, "what about next year?" And the answer is, "we don't know." There are still opportunities to help Lakeshore Baptist, from tearing down the remaining quonset huts to landscaping and putting the finishing touches on the church building. The church will continue their ministry through the Mercy House, which requires much work to maintain. There's also a need for outreach to the community. The construction phase is estimated to be completed around August of this year, but by no means is the work at Lakeshore Baptist done. But at this time it isn't clear what future projects or trips might look like. There may be another official Rebuild Lakeshore trip next January. Or maybe individual churches will decide to continue supporting the work as they can. The structure of the group might change as the rebuilding and construction comes to an end. At this point we simply don't know. So please pray for wisdom and guidance for the leaders who will need to make decisions about what to do going forward. Please continue praying for Pastor Don and the congregation of Lakeshore Baptist as they labor for the Lord. We are thankful for the incredible blessing that Lakeshore has been, we praise God for the fellowship and encouragement it has brought, and even if we are never again together in this life, we look forward to spending eternity together worshipping the Lord.

Fellowship at Lakeshore

Since the fellowship and sense of family we have at Lakeshore is such an encouragement to those who attend, I wanted to share some photos that might help you get a better sense of what it is like.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pike St. Report

Similar to the church construction post that was published today, I wanted to do an overview of the Pike St. project. I also have a couple final posts I plan to finish and publish tomorrow : )

Church Construction Photos

We made a lot of progress on the church building last week, despite some setbacks and obstacles. The teams did their best with the situation that God gave them, and that's all we can ever do. I've compiled pictures of the construction work through the week and tried to put them in somewhat chronological order here. 

Siding crew at work.

The front of the church pre-pillars.

The goal of the week was to get the interior "roughed in" with electrical, HVAC, and plumbing done so that it would be ready for insulation. 

The little guy in the photo above had his construction equipment out on the site : ) 

The team stayed out late Friday night to finish the siding. 

One of my last photos of the week, taken early Saturday morning. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Friday Night, Part 2

I apologize for the delay in getting the rest of the posts published. There are several more posts that I plan to finish over the next couple days, so check back : ) 

Friday night went very well! I think we had 40-60 guests, which is about average for this event. Pastor Don preached a wonderful sermon, which focused on the gospel and the importance of the local church in a Christian's life. After all the guests departed we had a final meeting, which was pretty emotional, to say the least. I'll say more about this in a later post, but in the meantime, here are more photos from Friday night...

The ladies made beautiful posters for the dining hall

The greeting committee, composed of the ministry team and Lakeshore Baptist members 
Elizabeth, the registrar for the evening 

Guests entering the dining hall 

Final Lakeshore meeting