Over the past 12 months it has been apparent to me that CLDI has been undergoing a season of transformation. Needless to say, a lot has happened since June of 2017. For one, we started the renovation of the old Labor Building (otherwise known as Katapheugó) in August of 2017, which will be complete later this month and ready for us to relocate our CLDI offices the first part of July. Second, my wife and I thought we were moving overseas in the fall to work with Muslims, but the Lord made it clear to us that for the time being we are to remain faithful right where we are, in the South Side of Billings, MT (for more on this please read our blog, “Did You Hear?”). To be honest, while undoubtedly many challenges would have been upon us if we moved our family overseas, in many ways the idea of staying has been an even greater challenge for me on a personal level. I have come to realize that I have a love and passion for identifying unmet needs, casting vision, providing structure, and then getting out of the way to empower new leadership, only to start the process all over again. If you had spoken to me in January of this year, I was 99% certain that my family was going to move overseas; thus, my top priority was to facilitate the best transition for CLDI by identifying and preparing new leadership, and ensuring that the ministry and staff were set up to succeed in continuing to make the gospel of Jesus known in word and deed in the South Side.
In the months leading up to our decision to remain in Billings, I had found great encouragement, and inspiration, from Paul’s letters to the believers in Colossae. While in prison, Paul wrote the believers, rejoicing in their good discipline and the stability of their faith in Christ. He then commended them and said, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2:6-7).
To be firmly rooted in Him… this is the heart of CLDI’s mission that flows from Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We believe that the gospel transforms lives and that the Holy Spirit empowers people of any walk of life – young or old, rich or poor, addicted or sober – not only to receive the gift of salvation in a time to come, but also to do good works as they seek first His kingdom and righteousness (i.e. live lives of kingdom significance through a life of obedience to Jesus). Imagine that you are a 60-year-old recovering drug addict, or a lonely teenager from a broken and abusive home, is this not good news? It is good news indeed!
Going back to the season of transformation I have sensed, in a nutshell it is to further root ourselves in Christ, and in the South Side community, to bear testimony of the gospel in word and deed and so encourage rootedness in the lives of those we are blessed to serve and neighbor. In desiring to see changed lives, the restoration of families, and a healthy neighborhood, Jesus alone is our hope who makes us “alive together with Him, having forgiven our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of death… having nailed it to the cross” (vv. 13-14).
Amazingly, as this rootedness for CLDI’s ministry is becoming more evident to me, I too am beginning to see more clearly my role within this transformation. In having been burdened with a desire to foster this rootedness in Christ, I have been at a loss as to ‘how’ I am to do so. Truth be told, I had hit a ceiling as to what I was able to accomplish, but the Lord in His good grace opened my eyes to see the tremendous staff He has surrounded me with that whole-heartedly love Him and desire to see His kingdom come. The depth of engagement that I have sensed is needed for every facet of CLDI’s ministry (Hannah House Ministries, the Internship, Koinonia Management Company, and Youth Works) has been provided through this amazing group of Christ-followers He has brought to CLDI. My role has quickly transitioned to empowering and encouraging these staff who are the experts when it comes to the ministry of those they serve; whether at-risk youth, women in crisis, or those we serve in need of housing, community, and encouragement. As God has increased my burden for deepening our relationships and ministry with those we serve, so has He provided a fellowship of saints, the CLDI staff and interns, to firmly root, build up, and establish in the faith our neighbors and friends He has brought into our lives. My spirit indeed overflows with gratitude and excitement, as well as hope and joy of what can and will one day be.