This summer, I have had the honor to join in on what God is doing through Kaleo to reach their community. Furthermore, I have been able to witness how Kaleo functions as a missional community, a family. Kaleo has formed a commitment of what it looks like to be the church in Portland and this commitment has been distributed to everyone in the family. When I visit the homes of each family member, they all have it posted on their refrigerator. To be a good family is to serve one another and tell others about the family so that they might belong too. By God’s grace, Kaleo will live into three primary identities that are found in the Gospel: Family, Servant, and Missionary. Even though I have been able to witness and experience all three identities, I’d like to focus on Servant.
In order to understand servanthood, we must first lay the foundation of why we serve by looking to our God who loved us first. After all, Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. For though Jesus is God, He emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8). Therefore, what does this mean for the Christian? What does this mean for those a part of the Kaleo family? This means serving others without selfish ambition and in humility, counting others more significant than ourselves.
Furthermore, John 13 paints a beautiful picture of Jesus humbling Himself and taking the role of a servant. Here, Jesus rose up from supper, laid aside His outer garment, took a towel and tied it around His waist. He then poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of His disciples. Jesus gives His disciples an example of humility and servanthood. For a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Therefore, blessed are we if we should choose to follow Jesus’ example of humility and servanthood. After all, humility should be one of the engines of the Christian life. If it was not for God’s willingness to humble himself and become man, we would not have a saviour to rescue us. Nor would we have a saviour who we could relate to. A saviour that can sympathize with our weakness, who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is this saviour and was willing to humble Himself for our sake. Therefore, knowing and believing this truth, my calling this summer was to serve Kaleo and the community of Northeast Portland.
For Kaleo, new relationships were starting to form at Scott Harvey Elementary. By God’s grace, I was able to help build this relationship by volunteering in their summer Sun School program. This summer, Scott Harvey welcomed a new family to the community that had just recently moved from Mexico. What this meant was new culture, foods, and language. Also, now they must see the world through everyone else’s lens and rarely have someone try to see the world through theirs. Having been in their shoes and at one point also not know English, I was able to relate to them almost immediately. My time at Scott was spent as a mediator and translator. Honestly to me, it was a simple task that really did not require much of me. However for them, having someone who spoke their language and was able to clarify this new environment meant much. By the end of the first day you can see a difference in these kids. They were now willing to play new games and try to communicate with the other students. This was the easiest volunteer work I ever signed up for. It only required four hours of my time and willingness to listen to my students.
My time at Scott did not require lesson planning, teaching, leading activities or anything like that. I was more of a glorified Teacher’s Assistant. However, to Scott, it was different. Me being there was a huge blessing. To have an extra pair of eyes and an extra pair of lips that spoke spanish was a big deal. Furthermore, my presence at Scott meant they now know Kaleo is in their neighborhood and wants to help. Scott Harvey can now call Kaleo and see if they have anyone available to help serve. They know why I was there and why Kaelo is there. We serve because Jesus served and loved us first. It is not for our own gain or glory.
Never once did I expect anyone from Scott to come to our Missional Community. Never once did I expect someone from Scott to come to Christ. Sure I was hopeful because that meant another soul saved. But not every conversation I had with Teachers or students was a spiritual conversation. I did not put the pressure on myself to share the Gospel every time I spoke with someone. My goal was to build genuine relationships and honestly care about hearing their story. Being a servant in Northeast Portland is easy. All you need to do is be willing to do it. Something as simple as decorating flower pots at Fremont Fest ( a festival in Northeast Portland where the community can come out and enjoy music, good, kids activities and shopping from local merchants) and talking to parents can go a long way. But if we didn’t have people there willing to serve, then the community would not have known there was a church in their neighborhood. Besides, you don’t know what God has lined up to happen while you’re serving.
During Fremont Fest, we had an adorable little girl come and meticulously decorate her flower pot. I am not exaggerating when I say that she spent at least an hour at our booth. Forty Five minutes of that hour I was able to hang out with her grandma and hear her story. Her story and mine had the following similarities: we have both been hurt by the church, seen our neighborhoods change because of gentrification, and understand that justice and the gospel cannot be separated. Due to this, I was able to relate to her. I was able to tell her that I am not just trying to understand where she is coming from, but I actually do because I have been there. At the end of our conversation, she took our Kaleo card and information brochure. Since she has been hurt by the church, she has not gathered for corporate worship in a while. Serving her meant listening and not having expectations that she would start coming to our gatherings. However, none of this would have happened if I was not willing to give up a few hours of my day.
Being a servant in Northeast Portland is easy. All you need to do is be willing to do it. Kaleo is cultivating a community that strives to be a good family and serve one another. I was blessed immensely by serving alongside this summer.