In the beginning of the program I felt an overwhelming sense of I CAN NOT DO THIS each work week. The job seemed like it would be too much and I wouldn't be beneficial to the kids that had been put into my charge. Fast forward a year and I'm sitting in the principal's office going over my final evaluation and she's telling me what a wonderful job I've done, despite all the challenges faced.
I didn't meet every goal as well as I would have wanted to, but the most significant thing I walk away with from Servant Year and my time at St James school is that GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. This meaning that where God puts you is where you are meant to be. I was reminded by my fiance about the story of Gideon and how he tested God and wanted to verify that he was indeed selected to lead an army to victory, even though he felt he was not qualified for the job. We see in this story that God was with him every step of the way and equipped him to do the job he had assigned.
In the last couple months the word EQUIPPED has been something that has stood out to me as a lesson in my time here. Even though I felt inadequate and unworthy of my position, the Lord saw it fit to place me among people and give me strengths that would equip me to accomplish that which was assigned. This was a great lesson of faith to me and finally brought about understanding of how much love and favor God gives us. He does not give us this just so we can be prosperous, but for his glory in the world.
We all know nothing is more astonishing or awe-inspiring than a story of someone thought to be a muddy rock, that with time turned into a shining diamond. This is what God does for us; he turns dust, mud, dirt, grime into beautiful things in order for others who feel unworthy to look upon this new beautiful thing and think I wonder if he can do the same for me. The truth is yes he can, and if my life and work at St James and with Servant Year is any indication, he will.
For me it was the wonderful people of St James who helped every step of the way and taught me so much about what it means to truly care for youth. It was the Servant Year peers and leaders who always had an uplifting word to say about me and the work we each were doing. It was the people of Philadelphia so vibrant,colorful,loving,and open despite outside views. It was my loving fiance Bella, so supportive and cheering me on through all the ups and downs, and lastly God being with me. His persistence- being ever present through the curve balls and triumphs life threw at me this year, cheering at me getting things right, and comforting me when I missed the mark.
So even though I am still not sure if I was the best for the position I was given, I am coming away with three things from this year. I AM EQUIPPED FOR WHAT IS TO COME AND WHAT IS ASSIGNED. I AM THE ONLY PERSON THAT CAN DO WHAT HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO ME DESPITE HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT. GOD WILL NEVER BRING ME TO A PLACE WITHOUT SUPPLYING ME WITH WHAT IS NEEDED TO ACCOMPLISH THE GOALS SET. I urge future Servant Year folks to remember that.
You are where you are because you have been given the means to do what is given. God does not make mistakes, instead he makes beautiful things out of that which was thought to be ugly. Thank you all for being a part of my experience, and thank you all for being so supportive of me. I owe a great debt to my Servant Year and St James families. I will carry this experience through my missions work and life forever.
Freddie's Ministry Placement was at St. James School as a Teaching Assistant.
Living in Philadelphia has greatly changed the way I view relationships in a lot of ways. The people that I have met and the lessons I have learned through my service site, Friday Formations, walking around the city, and attending a True Vine Community Church have shown me the importance in regarding everyone you come across as a child of God. Seeing everybody as a the person they are, and not just a face that you will simply forget in the folds of your memory as you walk past or muster a hello to on public transport.
I have always regarded myself as a friendly person but as my heart continues to grow for this city and my understanding of the word of God does as well I am realizing there is a difference between being friendly and being a friend. Being friendly is pleasant but that does not mean that it can create a lasting impression on those you come across, but being a friend even if its for a short interaction can create beautiful things and make life so full for both involved. Being friendly is the world's basic template for being civil to one another, but being a friend is going above and beyond that. It is showing true concern for the person that you are currently connecting with and regarding them as an individual and a child of God. This to me is an important part of not only being a human but being a christian.
If one truly looks at their day to day interactions can they truly say that they saw in everyone the came across a child of God or did they simply see a passerby who they will never see again? In the beginning of my time here in Philadelphia the passerby was a very common theme. I often did not attempt to make new relationships with people simply based out of the awkwardness of interacting and the feeling that I would never see them again. The people of the city seemed to move too fast to even attempt it and their faces to me seemed less than friendly. It took courage, prayer, and a healthy dose of humility for me to realize I was looking at people in a way that wasn't as God intended me to. I was simply judging them for what they happened to look like on that day, in that second, on that block, on that particular street. I realized soon after that it would take a long process for me to get out of that state of mind.
However, over time the more interactions I had, the more I began to become more open towards people. Learning more about who God wishes us to be to people and how our interactions both in short fraction of time or life long are important in advancing the Kingdom was something that sparked my love for building better relationships. Though it is still incredibly uncomfortable for me to attempt interacting with strangers, especially in a city I am not familiar with, it has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my time here.
I encourage all of us to ask God everyday to see who we can interact with and how to best minister to them with our words and actions of authentic relationship building. I encourage all of us to keep each other accountable of how we measure up people before we understand who they truly are. I encourage us to hold each other to a higher standard of social interaction. Lastly I encourage all of us to look upon every new interaction as a chance to build a new bridge, a new bond, a new piece in the chain of love that this world so desperately needs. I urge all of us to be mindful of being a friend to all we come across not just friendly.
After all we have nothing to lose by giving our time and minds to people and so much more to gain.
Freddie's ministry placement is at St. James School as a Teaching Assistant.