Today’s schedule at the Mobilization to End Poverty (M2EP) was packed full of speakers, congress people, preachers, music, laughter, tears, and love. I took about 20 (small) pages’ worth of notes, and I want to be able to take the time to really process all the things I heard today and post something interesting and cohesive. So I’m going to wait on that. Right now I just want to reflect on the last event of the day, the Koinonia Coffee House that was held for “emerging leaders” attending the conference.
It turns out that I have a huge crush on Donald Miller, who was the speaker at tonight’s Koinonia coffee house (interesting note: apparently “koinonia,” usually translated as “fellowship,” also necessarily implies some impending action). Having read a lot of Miller’s work and his blog posts, I was half expecting him to be somewhat more dry in his speech and in his meeting of the people at the coffee house. To my pleasant surprise, he was kind and sweet, his face soft, and his voice inviting and friendly. He spoke about telling a story with our lives–one that would be interesting to watch if they were movies.
Don told us that a good story involves a “character who wants something and is willing to overcome conflict to get it.” He also noted, however, that the character’s character must be shown to be good or we don’t care what he gets. He must do good things with a good motivation for us to want the best for him. He told us that there was conflict even before ‘the Fall,’ that Adam–walking in the garden with God Himself–was lonely. Don noted that many people think they must be totally fulfilled by God and aspire to do so before joining in marriage with another human. He laughed as he said he thought that was impossible, that God just isn’t meant to fill our every need, that God doesn’t want to, and won’t, date us. “The #1 way we consume stories,” he said, “is through each other.” Not through movies and television and music and media. We invest in each other and each other’s stories. …It was quite beautiful really.
In the q&a session afterward, one of the women in the crowd shared about feeling like she was bouncing from ministry to ministry and not feeling like that left her being able to make a palpable difference anywhere. Don has this advice: “It’s ok, in your 20s, to feel like you’re practicing. You’re still figuring stuff out.” He went on to tell us how it took him til he was 33 or something to start the mentoring project. That was probably the most encouraging thing I heard all day, pertaining to my own personal situation. It’s ok for me to be practicing and building experience for what it is that’s coming.
I’ve been dreaming about starting a community center in my neighborhood back home. There’s an empty building on Atlantic that I want for it, and there I want to help kids with their homework, and feed them carrot sticks after school. It’s just a dream right now, but right now it seems palpable. Don noted that “it’s in the doing that we are changed. Not in the thinking and planning and dreaming–in the doing.”
Amen. So be it. May God give me the faith to jump.