Two Weeks Unplugged

I had just arrived in Denver to serve as a year-long missionary with Christ in the City. It was the first time I had ever lived anywhere other than Lincoln, Nebraska. Denver was a new city, new people, and a new place to try to make home. I was excited, but a little anxious about leaving comfort and familiarity behind me.

We were told that the missionaries would have a technology fast for the first few weeks of our time together. I was worried at first because it wouldn’t allow me the luxury of talking to my friends and family back home and I was already experiencing plenty of new things without them.

It was definitely a challenge, but by the end of the technology fast I was extremely grateful for it. It allowed our community to really come together and be available to each other. Because we had no devices to turn to, we quickly learned to turn to each other during both the joyous and hard moments of those first few weeks. 

It not only gave us missionaries the freedom to be present with one another and take a break from social media, but also to cultivate relationships back home in a new way. During my time on the technology fast I was able to send and receive letters from so many people I care about: my parents, neighbors, high school and college friends, and even students who came to CIC for mission trips.

We often think if we can’t “like” someone’s Instagram post or send them a text letting them know we are thinking of them, it invalidates how much we care for the person or the friendship means less. I realized during the tech fast that distancing myself from constant connection, whether through Facebook or Facetime, made my conversations intentional and more fruitful when I was able to talk with someone I cared about. Even though many miles separate me from my friends back home, it has been beautiful to experience how those relationships have actually grown.

I still try to limit my time on my phone throughout the week to make sure I am present to my community and to the mission we have. This does not mean I don’t miss people or that I love them any less. It means God has called me to be able to fully know and fully love the people He is placing before me. Answering this call to love and be present to this community has given me the great joy of better loving those that are farther away and allowing myself to be loved by them in a new way.

Emma is a missionary from Lincoln, NE. She enjoys reading, playing soccer, and flossing twice a day (not the dance move).

The Diseased and the Antidote

As I walked into a narcotics anonymous meeting, I began seeing what appeared to be a hospital room full of sick, diseased people and guess what?

They were all doing something about it…they were there for the antidote.

In the hour long session of narcotics anonymous that was to follow, I began to become more familiar with the Twelve Steps that are foundational to addiction recovery groups. These steps are sincerely a way to live a healthy, balanced life and not just for those recovering from difficult addictions.

What we often miss in our normal lives is that we all are slaves to things we consume and hold on to, and what’s more is that we believe they give us freedom. However, unless we become aware of these chains that bind us and have power over us, well remain a slave—bound up, diseased and untreated.

Later that same day, I found myself in the chapel praying night prayer with my fellow missionaries and once again I began seeing a hospital room full of sick, diseased people—myself included—and guess what?

We were all doing something about it…we were there for the antidote.

Relinquishing control and placing your trust in God is a difficult process, but the joy is that it is one which allows you to begin entering into relationship with Him.

“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I [Christ] did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Tyler is a missionary from Gainesville, VA. He enjoys hiking in the mountains, golfing with his family, and crowd surfing at metal/punk concerts. 

The Power of Wasting Time

It was the longest – and the grossest – hug I can remember.

Rob had had a terrible week. It was one of those times in life where nothing went as planned. He had hit rock bottom.

Ashamed of his addiction and his actions from the week, he approached me with tears in his eyes and snot dripping from his nose. His hair was sticking in every direction and he looked as if he had been electrocuted.

Rob had lost control and he didn’t know how to handle it. 

No words were said, we just embraced. He started sobbing and put his head on my shoulder. We just stood there, friend embracing friend. Snot and tears running from Rob’s face onto my coat. A moment that a few months prior could have never been foreseen. 

Before this moment, Rob never really needed anything from me, and talking with him was just a pleasant conversation.

He had a college education in architecture, wrestled at the Division I level, and didn’t need much from anyone. He would just come to our Lunches in the Park and thank us for the deeper meaning of our work; he understood it due to his past experiences in the working world.

My friendship with Rob was professional and cordial. We’d update each other on the past week’s happenings, and he’d fill me in on how the Denver Broncos games went – he was an on-the-field security guard. 

At times I questioned why I was even talking with him, when so many other people in the park were thirsting for companionship. But this hug showed me exactly why I had “wasted” so much time with him during the past few months.

Rob wouldn’t have come to me in this big moment of pain if it weren’t for all of those mundane conversations before that developed our relationship. Taking the time to get to know him in these small interactions built up a trust that led him to seek me in his hour of need.

This proved to me that no moment with someone is ever useless or insignificant. The qualities of deep friendship come only after moments and hours “wasted” together. 

​We all need someone at some point in our lives.

Thank God for friends we can trust in those moments where no words can surface and no words are needed. And thank God for all of the little moments that create those friendships. 

Blake is from Hastings, NE. He served as a missionary with Christ in the City from 2015-2017 and is now on staff as the Director of College Outreach & Recruitment. He enjoys Husker football, Dr. Pepper, and long road trips.

Is fear holding me back?

I paused as I got to the edge of the park and scanned the area.

I was insanely nervous.

People were scattered throughout the park, some in clumps, some in pairs, some alone. It was now my job to approach one of these people and strike up a conversation with them. This is what I’d been waiting to do for the past month or longer and the time was finally here.

I felt a bit of anxiety, nervousness, shock, disbelief, and excitement.

With three people I had met only a month ago (my new street team and our mentor) I was ready to start my new mission.  

It was so awkward and uncomfortable walking up to that first homeless person, but after getting over that initial hesitation, I fell in love.  

AJ quickly won over my heart by teasing us, telling us jokes, and tying our shoe strings together.  After saying “see ya later” to AJ, a surge of energy and excitement coursed through my body.

I couldn’t wait to meet the next person. And the next. And the next.

My street team quickly learned to lean on each other, communicate, and know what to do in certain situations. We each brought our own strengths and unique way of sharing Christ’s love to our friends on the street

It’s an experience that changes the way you view the world and yourself.

Hannah is from Lincoln, NE. She served with Christ in the City from 2016-2018 and is now studying Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder. She enjoys cats, tacos, and laughter (in no particular order).

The pain is real.

It wasn’t until I left Christ in the City that I realized the extent of Mother Teresa’s invitation to “love until it hurts”.

The past two years were some of the most formative years of my life, filled with laughter, Chinese fire drills, cleaning bathrooms, lip-synching, almost driving into ditches, literally going through multiple pairs of shoes, and so much more.

I met more people, from the streets, from other states, even from other countries, than I could count. I learned the value of every encounter as I never knew when my friends on the streets would end up in the hospital, jail, or some other place.

I accompanied them through grief, joy, depression, celebration, even death. I realized that I could not pray adequately for the crosses my family, friends on the streets, and community bore so I went to others, asking for their intercession.

I found a relationship with Mother Mary as she helped me through the worst of my pain. I cried for the suffering that my friends and family went through.

I cheered for their victories against their addictions and weaknesses and likewise depended on them when my own battles and grief got too heavy.

I learned big lessons in sanctity, humility, and surrender. Most parts were good, some were bad, and a rare few were ugly, but they were, as a whole, great.

I realized that I loved Christ in the City, its ministry, its community, its spirituality so much that leaving it was the most painful part of being a missionary.

When the future appears uncertain, do we have the hope to keep walking forward? When we lose people we love, those who impacted our lives so strongly, are we open to expanding our hearts and loving more?

Do we draw closer to Him when we struggle, or do we, as I did those first couple of weeks, succumb to anxiety, depression, and heartbreak?

Do we “love until it hurts”?

Joe is from Rancho Cordova, CA. He served with Christ in the City from 2016-2018 and is now studying at the Augustine Institute. He enjoys puppies, babies, oxford commas and irony.