We just finished up our “Send Tampa” weekend! What a whirlwind … Here’s a quick recap of the purpose and the outreach opportunities we took place in over the last two days.
Here’s the quick answer to “WHAT exactly was ‘Send Tampa?'” …
“Send Tampa is a two-day, intensified version of what every believer living in the Tampa Bay area has been redeemed and empowered to participate in on a daily basis. It is a focused effort of Covenant Life Church whereby we seek to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ as well as practically love and serve those in our city in response to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Send Tampa is a venue through which CLC can begin meaningful relationships w/ others as well as strengthen existing relationships with those throughout the city.”
There were a variety of outreach opportunities to choose from this weekend. Among the options were: A Woman’s Place (gospel-centered pregnancy resource center), Created (residential and safe house program for vulnerable women in the sex industry), Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful (landscaping around area parks), Neighborhood Prayer Walking, Serving the Urban Poor, movie night at CLC, coffee shop conversations, etc.
We signed up to work at A Woman’s Place on Friday morning, serving the Urban Poor Friday afternoon, Movie Night on Friday evening, and working at Created Saturday morning. It was such a great opportunity to not only love on the people of this city in the name of Christ, but also a great time for us personally to learn very quickly the deep needs of the people in Tampa (especially after only being here for two weeks).
We worked on the landscaping outside of A Woman’s Place, pulling weeds, planting more plants, and putting down some mulch. A Woman’s Place is one of the only gospel-centered pregnancy centers in the area, and it is literally surrounded by abortion clinics (one almost directly next door). It was a joy and privilege to come along side of the staff at the center to help improve the outside facilities. We look forward to partnering with them more in the future.
Later that same day, I went out with another group to take meals to the poor around the downtown area. We were able to talk with and pray with several people in one particular park and give them the meals. It was eye opening and heart breaking to hear their stories. One in particular, R.J., really touched my heart … even after he had experienced so much struggle in such a short time, he had such kindness in his eyes and hope in his words. As a church, we hope and pray for more opportunities to engage and build relationships with the poor in our city.
We had a movie night for our community Friday evening. That was a fun time of meeting new people and fellowshipping with our new church family.
Saturday morning, we did some painting at Created, the safe house and residential program for women in the sex industry. This is a place where women who want out of the sex industry lifestyle can go to learn life skills and find a safe place to live with people who love them and love Jesus. We were able to hear a few stories of the ladies in the program and paint the back porch for them. It’s a fantastic ministry that I personally hope to get more involved in, as well.
Over the course of this weekend, our eyes were opened to the real needs of our city; the need for the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. May we be a people, a church, that truly reaches out with the love of Christ, being his hands and his feet on a daily basis. May “Send Tampa” not be something we do once a year on a pretty weekend in Florida; I pray it is something that we can each continue to do on a regular basis with our neighbors, our coworkers, and anyone God puts in our path along the journey.
Justin preached an incredible message today to end our Send Tampa weekend. He preached on the amazing good news of Ephesians 2.
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Oh the beauty of verse 4 … “BUT GOD”! We were all dead in our sins, by nature children of wrath … BUT GOD! Enter the creator of the universe, the one we needed saving FROM also is the same loving God who came himself to save his people. In his great love for us, he has redeemed us and delivered us. He hasn’t done this for us to live cozy little lives, attending service on Sunday and forgetting what we are here to do the rest of the week. No … it is so that in the ages to come, he might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus! As Justin said today, that is truly the greatest news we could ever hear!
I’m so thankful for the opportunity to love the people of this city this weekend, and the prayer of my heart is that God continues to push us out and help us to press on as we strive to make his name great and his name famous in this city. What great news we have as believers in Jesus Christ — may we always remember to live is Christ and to die is gain! Let’s boast ever so loudly in the greatness of our great God!
Thank you for your prayers for this weekend!
For His Glory,