Participating in a Miracle: Reflections from Sabbatical


by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

Last Tuesday, August 22, marked the end of our three-month sabbatical.  For some casual observers, it was hard to believe that three months had already gone by.  For my wife, having me at home jabbering on about my exercise goals and my sore foot for three months must have seemed like an eternity.  For me it was just right!

Among the many beautiful dynamics that happen on a sabbatical break, one of the most encouraging for me is having the opportunity to separate enough from the daily grind of ministry to hear the Lord speak new things.  Many heart lessons came through these months; I thought I'd share three with you that I shared with our staff this week.

  1. What we do at Mission Adelante is hard- I didn't exactly enter sabbatical limping across the finish line, but I will say that my hair loss over the last five years is indicative of a challenging ministry season we just completed.  I recently thought back to a memory from the months before we launched Mission Adelante.  An entrepreur friend listened to me try to describe what we were envisioning, and he said, "You guys sure try to do hard things."  His statement was prophetic.  From the normal human relational dynamics, to the harrowing challenges faced by immigrants in our community, the current harsh political climate, and the complications of multicultural relationships, this calling and ministry test heart, mind and soul in ways that I hadn't imagined.  But, what should we expect?  Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith and model for our ministry, was crucified brutally.  Accounts of his disciples in the book of Acts are full of hardships.  If we have a view of ministry that doesn't include the need to depend wholly on God and persevere through big challenges, we might have unrealistic expectations.  In a strange way, it's encouraging to step back and remember that Jesus told his followers to expect difficulty and that James says that we should consider it joy.  What we are trying to do is hard!
  2. Our calling is worth the struggle!  We serve in a beautiful community- beautiful because of the image of God that shines through each language, color, culture, and personality.  The pain, the joy, the potential that exist in each person are ready to burst forth in any given moment.  Some have experienced deep trauma in leaving their home country, persecution because of faith or political reasons, economic desperation. Others were brought here very young and are now coming of age in a time when their immigration status is at risk.  Others are are here alone, still hoping to be reunited with family they left behind.  Leaders, volunteers from our community and across the city, staff members from all places, are standing in the gap for one another and for their neighbors.  The light of the gospel is shined in the middle of difficult situations.  Jobs are provided for some, others are equipped with language skills, kids are loved and taught, the arts express the creativity designed into diverse individuals, leaders emerge and are developed, disciples are made, a community is strengthened and flourishes, like a bright, colorful flower blooming from the crevices of jagged rocks on a treacherous cliff.  What a privilege to be part of it!  The Lord has put us here for such a time as this!   
  3. We have everything we need!  From the beginning of our ministry I have been surprised over and over again by the provision of the Lord!  From finances, to partners, to volunteers, to key staff members at key moments, to buildings, spaces to meet, and vehicles- the list of seemingly miraculous provisions is so tremendously long.  The miracle of God's provision for a ministry like ours is perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the entire endeavor.  There's a story behind each person, each gift, each supporter, each contact, and many times they are clearly God stories.  Believing is easy when God's hand is so active and evident.  And, in the middle of all of the challenges, the Holy Spirit comes and changes a life, the trajectory of someone's journey, brings healing, brings vision, brings growth.  Yes, fundraising takes work.  Transforming lives takes a heavy personal investment.  And the whole endeavor requires a lot of faith.  But, I return from this sabbatical break astonished at the way God has provided everything we need at every step of this ministry, from unexpected places in just the right moments.   

Yes, the work is hard, but it's worth it, and God has provided richly.  What a privilege to participate in a miracle!