Away and present

Last week, I went to Helena, Arkansas for the third time to be part of the All Church Challenge. Each time I go to Helena I come back refreshed after having a full week of service. How? See Helena is one of the few places that I know I have seen the face of God. Helena is an impoverished area alongside the Mississippi River and much like many of the rural places I’ve lived in North Carolina. Together for Hope (the organization that is heads the All Church Challenge) is in Helena to help the community live with what they have, not to end poverty and make everyone middle class – which is how I think we need to think more often – we can’t end poverty but we can make lasting impact over the course of time; some way that Together for Hope has and is making lasting impact is by listening to what community members needs are then working with them, as a result of listening they have created a swim camp for children, started literacy programs, helped high school students get into college and the list goes on. How does this affect me? 

While I took the twelve hour journey from Sylva, North Carolina to Helena I was thinking about how this would affect my presence in the Jackson County community when I returned, not knowing that when I returned I would find out that 16% of Jackson County is poverty. I know I can’t end that poverty for Jackson County, but I know that I can respond  through my service as an After-school Program Coordinator, I can respond by finding ways for mission teams to come help, I can respond by finding ways for college students to help those in need, I can respond by serving meals to the hungry, and you can respond by ____. 
So yes, I went twelve hours away to learn how to serve a community I have only lived in seven months. I will keep going back to Helena because it always teaches me how to serve in my present situation rather than how just to serve the Helena community. 
I ask for prayers as I travel to Washington, D.C. tomorrow to serve at a children’s camp hosted by National Baptist Memorial Church.