I put on the bright yellow t-shirt with the words “CF Parks & Rec Staff” in bold letters on the back, and there’s no blending in. I talked with a young woman who has worked for the city since high school, and she said these shirts are well known. People see highlighter yellow and automatically associate it with city personnel. I’ve been here just over a month, and I find myself giving a man directions to a local park, “It’s at the end of Illinois street,” and promoting upcoming city programming to locals, “Do you know about free kayaking?” My teammate, Jonathan, and I are officially volunteers of the city of Central Falls, serving with their summer food program, providing breakfast and lunch at local parks for children and youth. This is an opportunity for us to serve, to be present in the community, and to build relationships with city leadership. We don’t blend in, in our yellow shirts, strangers in this little city that has welcomed us.
And to some extent, we want to stand out. We want to stand out as followers of Christ’s example, seeking not to be served but to serve. So, we’ve laid aside our best-laid summer plans and asked the city what we can do for them. We want to stand out as a (future) church who cares for its community, vested in their interests. And as we go, we’re building relationships, looking for opportunities to talk about Christ, and as Jonathan frequently encourages us, these friendships may be future disciples.
[W]hoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Matt. 20:26-28
Yesterday, this meant I sat in the park in my yellow t-shirt, waiting for kids to pick up free meals. We had a mere six children show up, but the six hours in the park were not wasted as I got to know my co-workers. Please lift up the relationships we are building as we work within this program. Please continue to pray for favor with the city government as we seek to serve their interests and represent Christ well to them.