A tv show Alissa and I like to watch from time to time is The Voice. Alissa likes to follow the artists through the entire show, but for me I really only like the first round when the singer is attempting to get the judges (Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and other famous singers) to push their buttons during a blind audition. If you have never seen it, an amatuer is on stage singing while four judges, with their backs turned, listen in. If they like them and think they can develop them towards greatness they will push a button, causing their chair to spin and light up letting the singer know they are wanted. For some, a chair never turns. For others, it's all four. Sometimes it’s just one. It's quite the cat and mouse game for the judges. They often then begin immediately arguing on who the singer should pick, who turned their chair first, which judge would be the best coach, etc! But, it is hard to watch when no chair turns. No sounds, no lights, just the resounding silence of “you’re not good enough” or “you are not chosen”.
Working on a college campus can feel similar. I see college students so trying to win the approval of their professors, parents, their peers, even God. We often place people on these chairs in our minds hoping for someone to turn around and say “yes, you will make it, you will be a great teacher someday”. “Yes, you will be a great nurse, or social worker, or friend or athlete”, or “yes, I want to date you”. The truth is, insecurity haunts us all from time to time and we seek the approval of others to try and pull us out of it. Another truth is that the one whose vote counts the most has already turned His chair, long ago and we often don’t see it. I am no different. Being new here, at times I struggle to want my co-workers, family, and students to turn their chair and hit the buzzer when I think they should about me. Don’t we all?
Jeremiah the prophet was a young man chosen by God and was equipped to deal with the biggest of challenges. If you think the politics and culture of our day is crazy, read the book of Jeremiah! During some of the darkest times of Israel's existence, Jeremiah was called by God to preach the message of repentance to the nation. Unfortunately, few to none listened and he spent most of his life alone, in isolation and persecution. It is what many might see as a real waste of time and talent.
In the book of Jeremiah chapter 1 we read that God tells Jeremiah he was chosen even before he was ever conceived. Jeremiah felt inadequate but he is again reminded by the Lord that He would be with him through trials... What does this tell us? Jeremiah did nothing for God's approval. The Lord turned His chair and hit His buzzer long before Jeremiah’s audition of life. While Jeremiah faced great rejection by those around him, he would never feel rejected by God!
This past weekend we had the chance to see a few modern day Jeremiah’s! People like Leon, Ezekiel, Eric and Sara (just to name a few) who are leaders at Mack Avenue Community Church and Mission in Detroit, Michigan. This ministry is not easy! They don’t have luxuries most American churches have. They live in a culture struggling for unity, struggling for hope and identity, yet they march on each day to the approval God and His calling on their lives. We saw the fruits of what God is doing there in just a short time. God is working in their community with the Gospel through sports, jobs, tutoring, legal help and a relational, authentic church. Fruits that come from those who seek the approval of God, not man!
In his book, “Crash the Chatterbox”, Steven Furtick says “...before you ever breathed a breath, before you even had the opportunity to show off or screw up, God declared,
I want you!
I’ve chosen you!
You belong to Me!.
You no longer have to live up to anything. Instead, you are now empowered to live out of an awareness of divine acceptance.”
I believe God wants this for all of us! We believe God has brought our family here to Grand Rapids to help disciple more Jeremiah’s through missions. This generation of millennials have so much to offer! I see so many potential Jeremiah's. So many Eric and Sara’s. When I look at my boys at home, I see the same. Through our ministry I hope and pray God will use us to speak life into those in our path. We pray we too will have the faith of Jeremiah to trust God to use us here His way. As we continue to develop ministry here and put together future mission trips to Detroit and beyond we pray for the Jeremiah’s we will be working with. We pray He will use us as a vessel so they see God's approval on their lives and we help empower them towards an eternal purpose.
In His service,
The Wallace family
FSI happenings and prayer needs here in Michigan:
We are extremely thankful for those who have partnered with us so far financially. We have a ways to go to reach our goal but we are off to a good start.
Upcoming meetings with Mack Avenue Community Church leadership for needs and possible upcoming spring trips to Detroit are in the works.
Meetings with Baseball and Womens Soccer in the new year for potential overseas trips in the 2018-19 school year.
Prayer for possible mission trips with NorthPointe Christian School.
Matt is meeting with a group of students soon to begin a Bible study.
JIm and Jenny King will be coming in April, we pray for opportunities to develop deeper partnerships while they visit.
Matt will be going with Jim to Honduras to help lead a trip and learn about leading future sports trips there.
Again our goal is to disciple college students and help them find their role in the church. This generation of believers are tomorrow's church leaders and they are faced with a crazy world to steer through. Students at a Christian college often come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are very open to spiritual growth. We desire to build relationships with students, and mentor and lead as we strive to challenge them to develop a Scripture based Christian worldview and a heart for missions.