I Am Second Community Service Project1
A Meaningful Community Service Project?
It's been an exciting few weeks as "buzz" has increased over the I Am Second community service project. The article in the Intelligencer, a television crew taping, lots of positive feedback as well as some negative, and plenty of volunteer support and donated supplies have contributed to the excitement for this project.
In July we began brainstorming for the I Am Second sermon series. We needed a public project that would give us the opportunity to demonstrate the change that Jesus makes in a person's life. One night the idea hit me, "we should paint that go-go bar." It was a long shot, but Aaron made a few calls and emails and by August we had permission to carry out the project.
"Is this a meaningful community service project?" I've been asking myself that question over the last few days. There have been plenty of critics who think that it is a waste of time and money. (By the way, we haven't spent a dime on this project yet). They have said that we should be feeding the poor and needy, not painting strip clubs. (They don't realize that Riverside hands out thousands of dollars each year to help the poor and needy people in our community). Besides the critical few, what do regular people think of this project? There is one story in particular worth telling here. One man told me personally that he used to frequent this club. This building represents a shameful part of his past. Paint can't adequately deal with his past, but Jesus can - and did. Jesus has changed him, forgiven him for his past, present, and even future sins, and has given him a new life and a fresh start. Covering over the building is really a poor metaphor, but it's only a metaphor. It demonstrates a changed life for this one man, as well as the hundreds of changed lives from these two churches.
Painting this building just because it's ugly isn't really worth the time and effort. But if doing this project allows us to tell people how Jesus has changed our lives, it is worth the time and effort.