Our theme for 2019 is “The Body.” Today we are exploring that theme with the blog…..
The Body of Rain
Rev. Ben Brown is the Minister of Students at Second Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. Ben is a native of Virginia and has degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR). He is married to Courtney, and they enjoy running, hiking, laughing, and being parents to their son, Carter. Ben is obsessed with VCU basketball and dreams of their return run to the Final Four.
“Our church is just around the corner,” the pastor said, but the family seemed more interested in the neighboring soccer game than anything else. The five young kids nearly fielded their own entire team against seven of our students. The kids picked me to play midfield, and dad played goal keeper, and that was our team.
Senior high students from Second Baptist Church in Richmond were on mission to help CBF Field Personnel in Strasbourg, France. We assisted in a variety of activities including ‘Action Quartier.’ AQ typically took place on Saturday mornings in the park by the large apartment complex, but this was during the summer and during the week. The kids from the church were spread out. Some were at the park, others went to the lake, some went and played frisbee, and others went to the soccer fields. We had a large team of students and volunteers, and we sent part of our team to wherever the kids were.
On our last day on mission, our hosts met a family from west Africa on the soccer field. They were a large family with six kids. The five older kids ran around with dad on the soccer field, and the youngest was an infant in mom’s arms. Our hosts asked if the kids would like to play soccer, and they said they wanted to, but they didn’t have a ball.
I walked over with the pastor from the local church, and he introduced himself to the new family. They said they just moved to Strasbourg, France and they barely had money for rent in their apartment… they needed some help.
The pastor said he’d be happy to help, and he shared that his church was just right around the corner. “We’re not very interested in church… we just need some help, but first let’s play some soccer.”
The ball rushed across the dry grass from tennis shoe to barefoot. The touch of some with grace on the pitch and others like rubber mallets striking the ball with fury. Tiny drops of water eased the July heat, and added smiles to the faces of both teams. Slowly the drops grew larger and more frequent, and two young sisters held up their palms to catch the downpour of rain in their hands. Giggles turned to belly laughs, and tired legs came to an all-out sprint to seek shelter for our bodies under a large tree in the park.
The father turned with anxiety to the local pastor, “Where is your church?!” We were all off, rushing towards sanctuary, safety, and shelter from the freezing rain. Our team found towels and dry clothes, not for ourselves but for the family. We all dried off together in the meeting room of the church, and our bodies were relieved to find solace together.
Leftovers from lunch were heated up, and crayons and coloring books were brought out of storage. We had packed up already. We thought our mission was over, but the family in front of us needed our help. The pastor shared about classes offered by the church, and our students taught the kids how to play French foosball (they call it ‘babyfoot’).
It was in that moment, that we realized something about the church. The church may be the building that keeps you dry from the run, but the body of Christ is what sustains you. The church is never around the corner, it’s wherever the body of Christ goes.