It is often the things we shy away from doing that impact us the most.
Like most people, I like comfort.
I like normalcy.
I like what I know more than what is new and unknown, but I also love to help people – to be a part of positive change in someone’s life and make a difference in this world.
The issue often arises from the fact that to make a difference in the world requires courage. Courage to live your life differently, so someone else can live theirs differently. Courage to step outside of myself. Courage to not be so selfish with my time and resources. Courage to put myself in difficult, awkward, or challenging situations with people I don’t know and can’t predict.
“A single act of courage is often the tipping point to extraordinary change.” – Andy Stanley
This past Saturday, June 8th at the 4th annual KC Convoy of Hope outreach in Swope Park gave me a chance to go to one of the most impoverished areas of Kansas City to be a beacon of light in a darkened place. Swope Park is adjacent to a particular zip code in Kansas City that has been coined “The Murder Factory” because the number of people from this zip code on death row in the prison system is exceptionally high. The Convoy of Hope outreach has spent the past 4 years trying to change this statistic.
The Convoy of Hope offers one on one prayer, help with finding employment, free groceries, free clothing, free family portraits, free haircuts, free shoes after a volunteer washes their feet and prays for them, free medical and dental checkups, free information on breast cancer prevention, free lunch, free toiletries, free kid zone with games/pony rides/cotton candy/prizes/etc, and more and more free services.
The idea is to reach out and give these people something that you and I take for granted every single day.
A kind smile.
No strings attached.
Feeling like someone cares.
Hope in the midst of having nothing.
So despite feelings of wanting to back out because I didn’t want to use up so much gas, get up so early on Saturday, or a million other excuses – I sucked it up and I did what I know I am called to do on a much more consistent basis: I became the hands and feet of my Savior.
And I am so incredibly glad I did.
Here is how the whole event was for me and why it impacted me so greatly:
Friday night I attended the volunteer rally for my free t-shirt.
That is literally the only reason I went because I primarily just wanted to go home and relax after a long day at work (selfish, I know).
What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming feeling of unity. Hundreds of volunteers from multiple churches across the metro all with the same passionate goal: to reach Kansas City for Christ. We worshiped together and prayed together and joined together with the vision of serving the neediest people with love and sacrifice. To treat the people that most shy away from with dignity, respect, and compassion. It gave me goosebumps.
We spent 3 hours setting up:
Little Sebastian came to join the party!
Hair cuts tent:
People lined up for hours before the event opened:
Even Casey the Wolf was there!
Community Services tent from organizations such as Pathway Charter school, KC Office of Emergency Disaster Management, help with growing organic urban gardens, and more!
I chose to volunteer in the station offering free family portraits.
These were the photographers I was assisting – they were so fun!
Matt and Terri attend a Catholic church in Shawnee Mission and this was their 3rd year taking photos for KC Convoy.
I loved that people from multiple denominations could all serve together. 🙂
The following are some random photos I snagged from my time in Family Portraits.
(Obviously the actual family portraits taken with real cameras came out much better – haha)
These families or people in particular were so grateful for the chance to have their portrait taken – some of them either had no family portrait at all before this event or relied on coming to Convoy of Hope each year to get a family portrait taken. I impacted me a lot because I am so used to snapping multiple photos a day with my phone or camera that I forget that something as basic as a photo is out of reach for so many families!
This new Mama wanted to finally have a picture with her baby – she kept thanking us over and over!
They had an area where kids could dress up for “glamour shots”
I love the girl in the background of this one! She had so much attitude and was “too cool for this” until she saw her family photo and she couldn’t stop smiling! 🙂
Our favorite hippie. 🙂
These were the guys who volunteered their time, laptops, and expertise to print “on demand” close to 1,000 5×7 photos for 6 hours, so families could take them home with them before the end of the day!
The rest of these pictures are better quality ones from the event that I borrowed from one of our Vineyard Pastors: Roger Sodsod. It definitely makes me want to walk around the event a little more next time to capture moments like these that just melt my heart:
Volunteers washing feet before handing out brand new pairs of shoes through Samaritan’s Feet.
Love the look on her face! 🙂
Getting a haircut!
More feet washing…
Bringing boxes of Crisis Care Kits, which included: shampoo, tooth paste, band aids, new hand towels, soap, a comb, a small toy/stuffed animal, chap stick, etc.
Enjoying the free treats!
Look at that sweet little face!