Archive for July, 2010


Simply Different

Introvert: 1. A shy person.  2.  A person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings.  3. A person who tends to shrink away from social contacts (dictionary.com, wordreference.com)

Hmmm, if I were Webster I would define it as boring, people-haters, loners, losers, no fun, shy, dull, and intimidating.

Ok, so that last one may be a bit of an exaggeration, but many times, as a strong introvert myself, this is how I often perceive myself and am sometimes perceived by others.  And as even the technical definition has a negative connotation, I would venture to say I am not alone.  As interns this summer, we were all responsible for picking a “personal project:” something you would like to know more about.  When the idea of discovering what it means to be an introvert in the church was first mentioned to me, I brushed it aside.  However, a few events took place and questions began to form in my mind that led me to revisit this idea.

I have never been a “social butterfly” and knew I was not the life of the party, but I thought a summer job working with students would be a blast!  And don’t get me wrong… it has been! But I was not prepared for my reactions.  I found myself uncomfortable walking into a weekly event where a large group of students were gathered.  I was anxious before going on mission trips where I knew I would have no “alone time” for days.  I was exhausted after conversations and interactions with people, even ones I wanted to have.  And I was frustrated.

What is wrong with me? Why is everyone else so energetic, relational, and outgoing?  Why am I not like them?  After a couple of weeks of wrestling with these questions and frustrations, I finally realized that this may all be part of my personality.  But I still was not content.  Why had God made me like this- why would God make anyone like this?  Do I need to do something to fix it? How can I be an introvert working and leading in student ministry- an atmosphere full of relational energy and requiring lots of interaction with people?

Needless to say, I immediately knew that I wanted to learn more about being an introvert.  I started by reading Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam McHugh.  While I have not yet finished the book, and I have questions about some of the things stated by McHugh, it has revealed a lot to me about myself and others.

The book began by exploring our church and culture today.  In many ways, the church has evolved into a place that is better suited for extroverts.  Church has become marked with a high degree of sociability. Many extroverts, as well as churches, are chatty, talkative and fast-paced with spiritual issues and discussing teachings and scripture.  Relationships, people, and time spent together are emphasized and encouraged by the church. While these characteristics and interactions with people can be great, the difficulties of being in these environments often cause feelings of guilt, shame, doubt, and inferiority for introverts like myself.  I loved people and relationships and wanted to hang out with students and people at the church, but another part of me simply wanted to be alone.

After learning more, I began to understand that introverts are simply different. Introverts…

  • Prefer to interact with smaller numbers and people they are comfortable with
  • Motivated by deep relationships
  • Find small talk difficult and long conversations exhausting
  • More contemplative, quiet, and slower in processing
  • Energized by solitude
  • Find large groups and interaction with others draining
  • Process internally as opposed to extroverts who do so by talking
  • Listen
  • Minds are always spinning but may go blank under pressure
  • Become exhausted physically and emotionally without time alone

This is only a short summary of the aspects of introversion, but as the author was able to put into words and describe what I had been feeling, I began to understand more about myself and how I function best.  I am experiencing more peace about who I am and how God has created me.  I am learning that I have gifts that I can use to further God’s Kingdom that others do not.  Like many introverts, I am a good listener and able to give clear feedback without getting wrapped up in emotions.  I do well in one-on-one situations and small group settings and enjoy digging deep in conversation.  I am able to see some of these abilities in myself and have been further confirmed by others around me.  I do not have to change who I am, and I am able to embrace and focus on the strengths God has given me by putting myself in those environments.  However, being an introvert does not give me an excuse not to engage others or be involved in community.  As I have learned, community is an important and biblical thing that is necessary for believers, but I may experience community in a different way than others.  I will have to push through situations that may feel uncomfortable or be tiresome, but it may be necessary and rewarding as I connect with and engage God’s people.  God has made each of us in his image and wants to use us as we are.  So extrovert, introvert, or somewhere in between doesn’t really matter.  The deeper question that we must answer is have you embraced how God has created you and are you allowing Him to use you for His glory?  I think I am beginning to get it!

~ Sarah Jacobs, 2010 Kairos Intern

I was given the unique opportunity of ministering in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Not only was I able to share God’s word with the children of Eleuthera, but I was able to witness the beauty of God’s creation every day. Every morning I could wake up, walk out to the porch, and have the most incredible view of the ocean He created. It was truly amazing.

Our mission team also got to visit all kinds of beautiful places on the island. One of my favorite spots we visited was a bridge called Glass Window Bridge. There is nothing special about the bridge itself, but it is what’s on either side of the bridge that is so incredible. Glass Window Bridge happens to be over the thinnest part of the island. So the two oceans surrounding the island (Atlantic and Caribbean) come within thirty yards of one another. When you look to the right of the bridge you see deep blue Atlantic water and when you look to the left you see the beautiful turquoise colored water of the Caribbean.  It was so mind blowing to see two totally different bodies of water so close together. The Atlantic side of the bridge was so powerful looking, with the white foam surging up as the waves crashed against the rocks and the wind blowing and whipping at my face. But the Caribbean side was completely different. The clear water remained calm and placid. It made me want to grab my snorkel gear and dive in and explore the world underneath the surface.

So as I stood there marveling at what I thought should be the eighth wonder of the world, I couldn’t help but be reminded of God’s character. A lot of times it is easier for me to only worship the Caribbean side of God, the side that shows mercy and bestows grace. But God also has an Atlantic side, the side that has wrath and exercises judgment. What God revealed to me that day was how beautiful and complex He can be. He has many “sides” or characteristics that define Him. He is mighty, compassionate, just, and extraordinary. He is marvelous and I should be in constant awe of Him. I need to hold a reverent fear for His Atlantic side, because He is powerful and almighty. And I need to be grateful for His Caribbean side because He blesses me with undeserved forgiveness.

I was also reminded of the many sides of God’s character as we studied the book of Jonah. When Jonah decided to run from God rather than immediately obey Him, God dealt with Jonah justly and punished him by sending a great storm upon the sea. But when Jonah was cast into the sea, God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah and save him from drowning. So God revealed Himself to be fair and just, but He also demonstrated His kindness and mercy.

Our God has so many attributes that make Him…God. He is powerful yet gentle. He is full of grace but He also makes judgments. He is our comforter and yet He is our rod and staff. There is not one word that can define Him. He is too big and too great to be truly defined by words we use to describe Him. He is our God, and He is indescribable.

~ Kelsey Whitson, Powdersville Dioko Student

Salke-what???

Salke-what???

This is usually the response I get when I tell people where I just spent the last week and where I have been going for over 10 years of my life. For those of you who don’t know, Salkehatchie is a program that takes place all across South Carolina each summer where adults and students ages 14-18 work for 5 days to rebuild houses and make them safe, warm, and dry.

My first experience with Salkehatchie was when I was about 6 years old and I toured around the various houses one spring with my dad and the other adults as they were deciding what needed to be done on each home the upcoming summer. At age 11, I attended the camp for a whole week and loved every minute of it. Like most people, I came into Salkehatchie thinking that I was going to be helping a family and learning some really cool new skills like how to hammer a nail and how to use power tools… and I did. However, the real impact of Salkehatchie cannot be measured in the number of nails I nailed, shingles I laid, walls I put up, but is in the transformation of my heart and the hearts of the people who live in the homes we work on.

I first realized this when I embarrassingly teared up in front of our whole group when Daniel, the mentally handicapped kid (who at the time was about the same age as me at 14) stood up in front of the 150 people at his home and said how happy he was to sleep in a bed for the first time. I thought I was there to make an impact on his life, but I realized that as much as Daniel needed a bed, I needed a new heart more. I thought I was doing God a favor by helping Daniel and his family, but in fact, God was working in spite of my ineptitude both spiritually and physically. That is the beauty of the gospel: that God loves me and wants to use me in spite of the fact that I will twist what I do to be about me and I will convince myself that I am capable of helping these people on my own.

Over the years Salkehatchie has broken that down a little for me and exposed my self-righteousness in twisting what is clearly God’s work at Salkehatchie and in my own life by forcing me to realize that I am incapable of doing any of it without God’s grace. What made that moment more special was Daniel had not uttered one word to us the entire week and mostly avoided where we were working, which was difficult considering we were working in just about every part of his tiny house. Yet as we were leaving, he hugged and thanked each one of us as we said goodbye.

However, the real purpose of Salkehatchie is not to just make someone’s home warmer, dryer and safer, but it is to share the gospel with each person and with ourselves. As my dad is apt to say: “It is a whole lot easier to share the gospel with someone when you have just put a roof over their heads.” 1 John 3:18 says: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with action and in truth.” At Salkehatchie, this is lived out. Students and leaders wake up at 5:30 every morning and work until 7:00 at night to finish the work that needs to be done on these homes to make them livable. Through our (very) unskilled hands, God is able to transform these homes and the hearts of everyone there to bring glory to Himself because let’s be honest, there is no way 7 kids and 3 adults can accomplish what needs to be done on these homes in only 5 days without the hand of God at work.

This past weekend I surprised my dad at Salkehatchie for the last few days of camp. I initially wanted to go to see him and make his week a little more special, but as I was driving there I got the feeling that this weekend was going to be something more. As I drove into Winnsboro, South Carolina old memories came flooding back and I realized that I was excited to see not only my dad, but the rest of my Salkehatchie family as well. In the process of building a porch for a woman who has fostered hundreds of children, currently including her nephew, I learned a little more about the gospel, serving others and what it means to truly give your life away. This weekend was truly a drink from a fresh fountain for me; I left Salkehatchie physically exhausted, but spiritually and mentally rejuvenated for the coming year.

~ Taylor Beard, 2010 Kairos Intern

*image courtesy of Jonathan M via sxc.hu

Allendale Revisited

We met Marvin on the first night of our high school mission trip in Allendale, SC. Pastor Joe introduced him as “formerly from the streets” and now deacon, city councilman, teacher, and husband to the pastor’s sister. And the next day we all found out that Marvin also writes and directs his own plays. Marvin had written a play, “Don’t Count Me Out: I’ll Rise Again” which was going to show at Open Arms Ministries in Hampton, SC on Sunday, July 11th. As the week progressed, we also met Frank, Jr., a young boy whose smile lit up his entire face; Lalie, whose beautiful voice mesmerized us; and Carolyn, Marvin’s wife, whose gentle, welcoming spirit was apparent to all. Each of our new friends was in the cast of Marvin’s play.

Over the course of the week, we formed relationships with these as well as many other beautiful people in Allendale, SC. And before the end of the week, we knew we wanted to come back for Marvin’s play. And that is exactly what we did this past Sunday. Seventeen students and leaders left Pelham Road immediately following second service and ventured to Allendale to reunite with our friends and to support Marvin, Lalie, Frank Jr. and Carolyn in the play. The excitement our students displayed as we walked into Open Arms was incredibly moving. Running to hug old friends and making new ones in the short time we were there, the students displayed love like I’ve never seen. They exchanged numbers, addresses, and hugs too numerous to count.

At the end of the play, which at times made us laugh out loud and other times stepped on our toes, we all wanted to stay.  We were sad to, once again, leave our new friends behind. Even knowing we had a long drive and a late night ahead of us didn’t deter our students from prolonging the inevitable by asking if we could eat dinner at O Taste and See or at Clara’s, two local establishments who fed us during our week long mission trip. The joy, love, unity, and passion for one another was palpable and something to celebrate. Relationships have been formed, friendships made.  And, I am certain this is just the beginning.

~ Chrystie

Check out some of our videos and slideshow from the evening:


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