It is a life-altering experience to throw yourself into something when God calls your name. For me, that involved pursuing a career in social work that would lead me to my current role with the staff, students and families of Marshall High School. There are countless opportunities within schools to connect with those who would maybe never enter a church. To bring hope and life, to enter into that mysterious place where Jesus is present with the poor, the oppressed, and the broken, in an inexplicable way. The light shining in the darkness, you don’t need a flashlight in the middle of the day, well maybe in Portland. You do need it at night and in the dark places where no one wants to look, those unattractive avoided places where who knows what might come crawling out. There’s something gospel-like about meeting people where they are instead of expecting them to come to you.
I count it joy to work in an environment where it’s “normal” to be on free/reduced lunch, have dad in jail and mom in rehab, live in a van, get a shut-off notice, sleep in a dumpster, eat once a day, and have lived in over 20 foster homes. That kind of daily bombardment reveals the reality of our existence and need for a Savior like nothing else. Horrible and wonderful all at the same time, especially when you realize you don’t have much to offer on your own.
Most days I don’t feel like I’m changing the world. Most days I feel like I’m being changed by this broken world. As it turns out, He didn’t need me to do anything for Him, but wanted to work with me and transform my miserable heart. It’s exhausting and frustrating as I fight, wiggle and squirm out of my old self into a new being through getting my hands dirty with action…
And maybe that’s the point. It keeps me in a place of perpetual dependence on the Lord… To lift my head, comfort my broken heart, recognize my weakness and inadequacy, loosen my grip on this world, strip me of any illusion of control and to long for something better.
But I do have those moments, glimpses of hope and transformation… And they are beautiful. When I get invited into lives, homes, burdens, fears, and see breakthrough that words can barely contain. I get to see those who have so little, give much; those who have been hardened by life, softened by grace; and those who have no reason to go on, go on. I usually leave work bursting with “you’re not going to believe this” stories, and I long to share those moments with others who will glorify God with me and not attribute it all to luck, nature or the cosmos.
The truth is, his love finds us in the most surprising places if we’re willing to risk spending our lives on behalf of the gospel wherever we happen to be. Living lives poured out as drink offerings, becoming the people that we were created to be, forever. I invite you to respond to the call that’s maybe already been stirring in you. To give yourself to kingdom work; meaningful relational work in the midst of your community. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few.
Here are some questions I frequently ask myself…
Who has God created you to be to other people?
Where do you see darkness as you walk, jog or drive by?
What evidence is there in this world that you are ushering in a different one?
How can you start participating in the kingdom work going on all around you?
Thanks for reading & I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Amber McGill is the SUN Community School Site Manager at Marshall High School. She has her masters in social work & is a licensed clinical social worker. Amber has attended Imago for 2 years and has embedded herself in the community here and around the city.