Saturday, September 27, 2008
Church at Patton Towers
This Sabbath afternoon I had my first experience at Patton Towers in downtown Chattanooga. For those who aren't acquainted with this outreach project Patton Towers is an old hotel that has been converted into an apartment building for those on disability or that have other problems with addictions etc.
I was standing in the back of the GYC main auditorium last year when I first watched the video about the project. On that video they related the people of Patton Towers to a dollar bill that never loses its value even after being crumpled and dragged through the mud. That analogy hit home and I felt impressed that this was the kind of ministry God had in store for me one day. So it was with great anticipation that I walked up to the run down brick building and entered the smoky-smelling lobby.
Dingy would be the best word I can come up with to describe the interior of the building. The stairwells aren't the cleanest and there aren't many windows if any in most of the main areas. Then there were the people, precious people. People in wheelchairs. People in ragged clothes. People with empty looks in their eyes. After taking one look at them I no longer noticed the filth or the cobwebs. We came for the people, not to inspect the building or judge their clothing.
First we paired up and knocked on doors to invite them to a Taco Salad supper and the church service we were holding in the building. Knocking on doors in a strange building I've never been in before with a guy I had just met definitely tested my bravery, but the Lord was good and provided the boldness I needed. He always does! I think the only time I felt afraid was when a ferocious sounding canine began barking and banging against one of the doors. Dog or no dog the invitation to the feast (both literal and spiritual) had to be given.
Singing, praying and sharing a Bible with the people during the church service blessed me so much. When Jeff opened up the floor for testimonies most of the people who stood up and shared were people from Patton instead of the impressively large SAU group. It really showed me that the Spirit of God is moving on these peoples hearts! One large lady wearing an oxygen mask was sitting behind me. Whenever we prayed she always reached for my hand. It was so beautiful to just be there for her as we talked with our Heavenly Father.
The whole process of feeding a huge group of people was a juggling act but was of course extremely rewarding. Pouring juice for the man with the cane or helping someone carry a plate of food becomes the most exciting, joyful thing in the world when done for the Savior! Even cleaning up the mess that was left when all of them had gone back to their rooms was a blessing. I loved it all! It wasn't work, it was service yielding for the One who first loved me!
Nothing makes me want to laugh, sing, and dance for joy all at once more than being used by Christ to touch peoples life's! The wonderful thing is that I can take no credit! Without Christ I am selfish, fearful and lazy, but in Christ I am a new creation!