15 years, 6 Broken Places, 1 perspective
Leading up to Grace Church's 25th Anniversary, we are counting down the days by posting 25 blog posts in 25 days by 25 authors (well, 24. Dave wrote twice). The post below is one of these posts. Need tickets to the 25th Anniversary celebration at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on September 11, 2016? Get tickets here: gracechurch.us/25.
BY AARON ELLIOTT, ASSOCIATE PASTOR OF CHURCH PLANTING
My name is Aaron Elliott. I currently serve on staff at Grace Church and have for over 15 years now. I have served in the areas of Spiritual Formation, Leadership Development, Outreach, Partners, and now Church Planting. Grace has been a place of healing, growth, connection, love, challenge, birth, death, community, and so much more. It is a place where I have grown in serving and leadership.
One great privilege since my time here is seeing the articulation of what we see and believe about the world evolve to the place of very strong clarity. We see 6 broken places in the world that God is working through His Church to bring healing.
I want to take a moment at our 25-year anniversary and share 6 of my own personal stories regarding my own living of each broken place through my time at Grace. Every story is a direct result of the work of this community in my life!
Separation: We see that human beings are alienated from God and lost.
There is no greater joy than baptizing my sister-in-law during a service at Grace. Baptism is the outward representation of a person’s internal submission to Jesus Christ. Nothing is more beautiful to me than seeing a baptism service, and participating in a baptism with those most close to me is always satisfying.
Pain: We see that human beings’ bodies, minds and spirits are broken.
God still heals. I have seen it through prayer for a young boy suffering from seizures who was healed as the Holy Spirit moved while a short-term team in Guatemala prayed. He heals malnourished babies daily through Nehemiah Vision Ministries malnutrition program. He heals hurts, hang-ups and bad habits every week through our 180xChange.
Isolation: We see that human beings are alone and lacking love.
As students, my wife and I found connection through a young marrieds small group. This was over 16 years ago. There are still families that we are doing life with today that we originally connected with through the ministry of Grace.
Hatred: We see that human beings alienate and dehumanize each other resulting in discrimination, racism, war and genocide.
Standing at the exit of the genocide museum in Kigali, Rwanda will forever be a vivid memory. Having witnessed the work of African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry (ALARM) as they train, bring peace, and offer hope to some of the most hateful places in the world makes me thankful that ALARM is a partner of Grace. Realizing that the root of murder and genocide is the same root as my anger was both sobering and illuminating to what Jesus spoke about in Matt 5:21-26.
Decay: We see that the physical creation is deteriorating and “groaning” because of abuse and neglect by human beings.
Living in Haiti during 2011 and seeing firsthand the humanitarian impact as a result of the decay of what was once the most treasured and beautiful island in the Caribbean opened my eyes to this broken place. It has been deeply satisfying to watch our dear friends Sara Sterley and Greg Osland launch Project Eden through Grace Church This has made Grace relevant when it comes to healing the broken place of creation in this world.
Injustice: We see injustice abounding everywhere resulting in systems of poverty, hunger, disease and slavery among others.
Injustice hit me for the first time when I walked through Korogocho slum in Kenya on my first trip there. Since then, I have seen injustice on nearly every continent (Oceania here I come!). I have learned that justice begins with me becoming a person of justice. Injustice is NOT beyond my ability or your ability to influence. God can change a whole system of injustice when enough of us become people of justice.
Grace wants to follow God and what He is doing in the world. This is a great passion that drives us. It is why we do what we do, making disciples and launching them into the mission of God.
This past spring, I turned 40 years old. On my birthday I also got a new role as the Associate Pastor of Church Planting. Our world doesn’t necessarily need more churches, but it does need more HEALTHY churches. There is no greater strategy for reconciling people back to God and healing the separation that exists then church planting. And when I think about planting healthy churches, churches that seek to heal ALL the broken places…I’ll give my next 25 years to that vision!
Juan, the little boy our team prayed for with seizures.