CRUX in Houston: “God Moved in Mighty Ways”
During Spring Break 2018, the CRUX discipleship group went to Houston, TX, to volunteer for a week. CRUX is a residential cohort at North Park University, in which a group of first-year students follow Christ together by living together, taking classes together, serving in the city together, and more. As service is a key part of the program, the CRUX group decided together to assist in relief work in Houston, after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
There is something about manual labor that brings out a different side of people who do not normally do manual labor. While serving in Houston I witnessed people working hard with newfound confidence and joy. We worked really hard all five days that we served with Friends of North Rosenberg. I was impressed with the student resiliency even when they were tired, frustrated, or discouraged. The students spend a lot of time together as it is, and we as leaders do not spend as much time with them as we did in Houston. I got a glimpse into what their community is really like when we are not around. They rally around one another and work as a team. Does that mean they don’t ever get frustrated and say things they don’t mean? No, but I witnessed first-hand the beloved community that they have built this year. For me personally, this trip was wonderful. I did my undergrad studies in Austin, Texas, so I often miss aspects of living in Texas. I loved hearing southern accents again (mine definitely came out), eating southern cuisine, and experiencing southern hospitality.
I saw Jesus in many different ways throughout our time in Houston, but I think the most impactful way I saw Jesus was through our hostess. Allison and I got to stay with Sharon, who is a widow and has an incredible life story. She frequently talked about her late husband and you could tell that she loved him very much, and misses him a lot. Her story of God’s provision throughout her life inspired me and I will remember our time with her for a long time. I could write forever about my own God moments and those of the students that they have shared with me, but I will leave it at that. I know that God moved in mighty ways in everyone involved in the trip whether we realize it or not.
– Emily Noyed (Seminary Ministry Coach)
And he prayed to the Lord, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God…” – Jonah 4:2
We love to feel like we’ve got the world figured out. But the book of Jonah shows us that being one who bears the mission of God in our lives means that we often won’t understand the ways of God. Jonah from the beginning knows God’s compassionate character, and does not want to see his enemies enter into God’s grace. But God wears Jonah down, and shows Jonah that his mission is for all people – including Jonah himself.
Texas gets a bad wrap. Yes, they were once their own country, and yes, there’s a lot of Texas pride. Yes, to the rest of us, Texas may seem like, “Wait isn’t that state just the really big, really flat, really southern one, where greasy foods reign and oil pumps through veins of its citizens?” But those are outside impressions that don’t look past Texas to the people that comprise it.
Spending eight days in Texan homes, eating Texan foods, listening to Texan accents, driving on Texan roads wore me down to the point where I looked past Texas to the people who live there. The hearts, the souls, the lives… the struggle, the pain, the worship… I was able to break away from my judgments of country music, of rodeos, and of personal politics. I was able to see families with real traumatic experience. I was able to experience a woman I had just met not only opening her home to me in southern hospitality, but also opening her heart to me as she cried, asking for prayer for her brother who was in the midst of surgery. I was able to see the personhood of little boys playing soccer, a teenager who had big dreams for his life, and a kid who laughed as he threw an awe-inspiring curveball.
There was beauty in Nineveh and God saw it. In a place like Texas, a place of which some outsiders might say, “How can any good come out of there?”, I found myself realizing, “There is beauty here.” I found myself looking into the face of Jesus in each person I encountered. As he did with Jonah, God, through his mission to Houston, widened my heart to his work, showing me the greatness of his compassion and utilizing my life as an agent of small steps of healing toward people that he loves.
Lord, helps us to surrender to your mission, to your boundless grace, and continually associate with those whom we might not naturally associate not only that they be transformed, but that we, too, find ourselves transformed by your love.
– Matt Butin (Seminary Ministry Coach)