“Well, let’s make sure we are all taking time off weekly to rest,” someone said. “We could check in on one another in our DNA groups.”
“Yes, I need that. I can tend to work and work and work, and never slow down to rest,” I said.
“What about a monthly game night together?” someone suggested. “We could have a different home host it each time.”
“Do we all have to come every time?” one person asked.
“No, of course not,” I said. “But doing it regularly may help us get into a better rhythm of playing together.”
“I think we should get away at least once a year on a short vacation/retreat,” Clay added.
“That’s going to take some work,” another chimed in.
“Well, I’ll take responsibility for that,” Clay responded. “In fact, let’s go to Seabrook. That’s the place where we first went away for the weekend with Jeff and Jayne. It could be like a reunion for us.”
“This is great stuff, family!” Adam said as he continued to type.
Then Alyssa spoke up: “Throughout all of this, I have realized that I feel called to take care of the community garden in Nicki’s backyard. It could be such a great blessing to so many people in this neighborhood. We could invite them to come take food whenever they need it. It would also be a great way for us to provide food for our family meals together. Besides, it’s such a great picture of things being restored.”
“I love it,” I responded. I had been taking a lot of responsibility for the garden, and it was not being as well cared for as it needed to be. I also imagined how Alyssa’s greater involvement in the family could be a big blessing to her, as well as bring Ian closer into our community.
“The only problem is, I don’t really have the time to do it,” Alyssa shared. “You see, Ian is in full-time school and working a part-time job, and I have a baby to take care of, while I’m also working a part-time job.”
“Do you feel called to do this?” I asked.
“Yes, but I can’t see how I could.”
“Well, it’s not your job to figure this out all by yourself,” Matt said. “How can we help?”
“I don’t have any idea how you can help,” Alyssa responded.
“Well, what if you didn’t have to work?” he asked.
“What are you talking about?” she exclaimed.
“Well, how much does your job provide? How much would you need if you quit your job?” he continued.
“What are you guys doing?” Alyssa asked hesitantly.
“We’re family. This is what family does. We are here to help you do what God is calling you to do and support you to be able to do it,” Matt went on. “So, how much would you need a month?”
“This is crazy!” Alyssa exclaimed.
“No, it’s family,” another stated.
“Really? You’re serious? We would need $500,” she said.
In about two minutes, the group committed to give $500 a month to Alyssa and Ian to free her up to be a stay-at-home mom who could serve the community and neighbors through caring for the garden.
“I can’t take your money. I can’t accept that,” Alyssa exclaimed.
“Well, that’s what a family does for one another,” one of our group members reminded her.
“Have you already received what Jesus did for you?” Adam asked. “Did you accept the gift of God in sending his Son to die on the cross for your sins?”
“Yes,” Alyssa replied.
“Well, then this is nothing. A gift of $500 a month is nothing compared to the life of God’s only Son given for you. If you can receive him, you can receive this. His life is of infinitely greater value than this gift.”
“Well, when you put it like that . . .”
“What other way is there?” another said.
“That is what the gospel leads us to do, Alyssa,” I said. “We give because he gave to us. And we can receive because we’ve already received the most costly gift there is in Jesus.”
“Well, I guess I can accept it then,” she said.
Remember, the mission brings stuff to the surface, and the gospel is the answer to the question and the solution to the problem.
We found out later that only a few days prior, Alyssa had learned she was pregnant with their second child. She had asked God to make it possible for her to be a stay-at-home mom. He had no problem answering her prayer.
That very night, she began posting on Facebook about what God had done to answer her prayer. Several of her friends who hadn’t yet put their faith and trust in Jesus (as well as some who were Christians) questioned this act. “What’s in it for them?” they asked. “There must be a catch. People don’t just do this!” Alyssa had the opportunity to share the gospel and how what Jesus had done was leading our family to love her like we had been loved.
This love, and many other aspects of our life together, had a huge impact on Ian. Several months later, Ian decided to be baptized to express his faith in and submission to Jesus Christ. His father, Bill, and Bill’s wife, Mee-zung, showed up for Ian’s baptism. That fall, Bill and Mee-zung also joined our group and began going through The Story together. Five months later, Bill expressed his faith in Jesus through baptism. Just recently, Mee-zung did the same.
Our group supported Ian and Alyssa in this way throughout the rest of his education. Ian eventually graduated and received a job in his field in another state. They recently moved away, but for several years, they experienced the church as the family of God on mission together, serving others in tangible ways. I trust they will take what they learned and continue living it out in their new place.
The word and work of the gospel is spreading out, saturating every place, reaching all people through God’s sent ones.
Where is he sending you? Across the street, across your city, across the country, or around the world? With whom do you believe you are being sent? How might you covenant together on this mission?
Jeff Vanderstelt, Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).