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Not Just Another Drive by McMission {Restoration Atlanta}

This is a guest post by my sister, April Carlock, who has supported us through our adoptions and run hard with us through ministry in Zambia Africa with Wiphan Care Ministries. She posted a bit of her experience on Facebook with RATL–and I asked her to please share more here. She’s been my best friend since I entered the world–and her perspective and heart inspire me daily…meet my big sister, April, and her heart–

Do you ever have one of those moments where you think- “this is it.”?

“This is why we’re here.”

It only happens every once in a while and only lasts a second but it’s big and it floors you.

If I blogged- this would be a post and the title would be really snazzy and clever but I don’t blog and I’m also not all that clever. (SO Warning! This post is long and I wouldn’t bother reading it unless you have been actively looking for a way to serve the homeless and the poor in your community in a tangible way…and I don’t mean cleaning out the closet and dropping your unwanted items somewhere… that’s an awesome thing to do but I mean if you do that and you also think THERE’S GOT TO BE MORE! I WANT TO DO MORE!. Well, I think I’ve found a really cool way and if you’re interested… read this….;))

Last week I had a “major dilemma”.

Or so I thought, anyway.

It was the daddy/daughter dance at my daughters’ school this past Friday night. But this momma had dropped the ball (so totally uncharacteristically of me;)) and had already made other plans. A sweet friend had organized a weekend with Restoration ATL to spend the weekend at The City of Refuge (a homeless shelter for women & children). I hated for my daughters to miss the special night with their dad and their friends at the dance, but my husband said we should spend the weekend in the shelter instead (wise man;))…. And my girls understood…

Rather than pretty dresses, candy and a dance floor… they embraced the unknown. I was humbled and taken aback because I had expected less. (How often I don’t give these little people credit for having the ability to make BIG choices!?). And now, as I settle in (after the fact, after our downtown adventure) in my warm cozy house… I’m humbled that I ever gave their missing a dance a second thought. Instead of dancing with their dad, they saw something I pray is permanently etched into their hearts and minds, and I also pray is something we do over and over again as a family.

Instead, they watched their dad play with little ones without a home, most of whom are without a dad to throw them over their shoulders… They played tag and sang karaoke with new friends–friends whose lives seem very different but who are at the end of the day just kids, the same. To say the moms and kids we met & worshipped with, played & prayed with stole our hearts would be an understatement.

As we drove away my kids asked “when are we going back?”. We weren’t in the car 5 minutes. It was one of those moments where you think- “Dear God, I know I sure mess stuff up ALL the time. But this day. This day was GOOD. Thank YOU for giving it to us!” And it was a GOOD day. It was.

But GOOD doesn’t always mean easy, or happy, or just.

Sometimes GOOD means wrecked.


And Changed.

GOOD is when you catch a glimpse of what matters to Him.

A glimpse of what He wants you to spend your life on. Nothing compares to how GOOD that is.

Years ago when our family joined a few other families and Wiphan Care Ministries, we had no idea what we were “getting into”. Many even questioned us. Why Zambia? Why not here? (The answer to that question isn’t simple, nor is it short so I’d love to write about that one day;)).

But what drew me to this ministry (RATL) is that their vision is the same as Wiphan’s. Serving by being with, not doing for.

In Zambia, the unemployment rate is 50% in urban areas, and soars to 80% in rural communities.

They don’t need us to build anything for them.

They are capable.

As a ministry we may have to gather the resources and the supplies, but they can build it.

They WANT to build it.

We were each meant to feel the satisfaction of a hard day’s work. Each of us wants nothing more than to take care of our children. It’s true in Zambia, and it’s true for the homeless women I met at The City of Refuge.

Tonight my heart is full and heavy.

Full that God gave my family the opportunity to discover some truths about humanity and homelessness that we can take with us and “do better now that we know”. Heavy because our little “adventure” is their reality and it’s broken and scary.

I met brave women who know hard things, things I will likely never know.

But while we think we’re so different, the truth is our hearts have the same desires to be seen and loved.

And we’re all broken.

But amidst all the broken pieces- kids are kids and there was laughter and fun…

And moms are moms and we all just want a good and safe world for our kids… and we ALL NEED JESUS.

And the cool thing is- ANYONE can go and visit the women and children at The City of Refuge. You’re invited! From spending the weekend with other families to hosting an ice cream social on a Friday night; there are many ways to serve and visit.

And, of course, you’re always invited to visit our friends at Wiphan in Zambia (join Andrea and I June 5th;)).

To learn more about Restoration Atlanta.

To learn more about Wiphan.

Natalie - January 27, 2014 - 3:42 pm

Love this post! Thank you for sharing! I volunteer at City of Refuge on Tuesday evenings and it is always good… and I’ve been totally wrecked. Thank you and amen… all we need is Jesus!

bazarul lui albert - February 2, 2014 - 4:10 am

Ahhh I can’t wait to follow your journey as you take this step! I am in my heart a country girl and just keep dreaming of the day when we can make it happen!