There are a number of perks that come with being an intern for CLDI, such as: living in Christian community, experience working with people in several different capacities, reading lots of excellent books, frequent dinners with some of the coolest people around, learning more and more about what it means to follow Jesus, and continually being challenged in how we live out our faith. Recently we interns have been discussing the idea of “faithful presence” and how this can be manifested in our own lives. Faithful presence is the intersection of community (connection with the body of Christ), formation of faith (our habits, disciplines, and community awareness), and mission (how we are literally living out our faith). What follows is a recent experience I had in our community.
One Friday afternoon, I was out walking with several 7th grade girls in the neighborhood where we live. Mindful of the practice of faithful presence we had been discussing in our internship, the girls and I were strolling along when we came across a family that was helping their grandfather move into the neighborhood. Interestingly enough, I happen to quite enjoy helping others move (though I cannot stand it when I have to move myself), so I walked across the street to see if they needed any help. Before I could offer I was somewhat jokingly invited to assist in the process. I believe I took the family a bit by surprise when I responded with an eager “yes” and found it very easy to jump in and help carry in some loads of boxes. At this point, my middle school friends were thinking that I was a bit crazy, I believe. I beckoned them to come over and join in, but their present group mentality had them strolling on where they watched from afar. I later learned that they had reported back to the other interns that they believed I was going to be kidnapped! Needless to say, they were a bit wary of strangers. After about thirty minutes or so of moving and meeting the various family members, including great-grandchildren, the project was complete. Both the new neighbor and his family expressed thanks for my help and generously extended the offer for me to stay and eat some post-move pizza. After swinging back to the youth house I popped back home and deliberated whether or not to take the family up on their offer. The thinking included recollecting on how I was a complete stranger and unsure how my return would be received, but at the same time that I truly did believe their offer was genuine and not just a nice gesture (also, pizza sounded like a pretty good idea too). I ended up going with my stomach and belief in their sincerity and stopped back by the house. I am certainly thankful that I did. I had a blast chatting with the family members, petting the family dog, and playing with the great-granddaughters. There were several funny moments where I was introduced to other friends of the family at the little house warming party as the girl from the neighborhood who happened to be walking by and was willing to help. One of my favorite conversations was with one of the friends who had been recently baptized and shared her story for how she ended up in Montana.
Overall, I had a phenomenal time getting to engage with a new neighbor, his family and friends. I thought it was so neat to get to build relationships the “old fashioned way” with no technology involved. It was not through any program or strategy that we connected, just merely being present. I was greatly impressed with the family’s willingness to invite in a random stranger walking around; it truly felt like what people talk about when they desire to be part of a neighborhood community. This brings to mind living in a place where the people genuinely care about those around them and desire to know one another. This was a beneficial experience because it gave me the opportunity to be reminded that Christ can use any multitude of experiences to put us across the paths of others and the blessing of an opportunity to serve in a tangible way. This specific event also reminds me weeks later that living out faithful presence is not a one and done box that we can check. It is something that we must choose to live day in and day out. It is convicting in regards to the great number of times when I have been lazy, tired, and self-centered and not lived up to that calling. I am so incredibly thankful that Jesus, who I get to follow and trust, never fails to do that with us. He sacrificially poured out His love on me without ceasing and continues to do so today. It is encouraging to know that the perfect model of faithful presence walked this earth living with others and continues to lead and guide us. He is the one that enables us to be a faithful presence in our communities, workplaces, neighborhoods, and relationships.
– Kaylee Bradford, CLDI Intern