This is Rotterdam, Netherlands...
...and for a good portion of this blog this city will serve as the background for why I write.
In 1940, Hitler's Germany planned to invade the Netherlands and conquer it in one day. Yet as the Germans advanced on the country they encountered heavy resistance which they did not count on.
The only way that the Nazis could force the Dutch army to retreat was to bomb Rotterdam and threaten to bomb many other Dutch cities as well. 800 people were killed in the bombings and 80,000 were left homeless due to these attacks.
The city was almost completely destroyed.
Ossip Zadkine, a Russian sculpture, dubbed Rotterdam "The City Without A Heart."
He created this sculpture to depict the city, a man with no heart.
From the 1950s to the 70s, a major effort was made to rebuild this city without a heart. Today, half a million people reside in Rotterdam under a brilliant skyline that displays the true heart of the city, finally, rebuilt to stand tall.
I came upon this story by means of iTunes of all places. I found a band called A Rotterdam November (which I highly recommend by the way), who base their music and ministry off of this story of Rotterdam and use the metaphorical meaning by relating the city to humans with out God and the transformation that occurs in them when God begins to do work.
So it got my mind thinking and I've been able to take it a step farther.
So here I go...
I know that I've graduated and moved out of Fusion Youth but it still is my youth group. Just because I am a college student doesn't mean that there still isn't a portion of me that belongs to that youth group (which is actually a completely other topic in general so I digress).
For the past six and a half years, I've watched this youth group unfold before my eyes. When I entered the youth group, we pushed 300 a week strong. And that's not preacher math. There really were 300 plus students gathered for worship each and every Wednesday night. A passion grew within the youth group and within me to see God's kingdom reign on Earth as it is in Heaven. Not to say that it doesn't now, but during this time it was obvious. Everyone could see it. This included full support from all levels. From the head of the church to the little 7th grader that I was, everyone was all for us.
Over the next five years, bit by bit, everything began to unravel. Over a dozen youth staff came and went, each one taking a bit of the group with them, whether they knew it or not.
Slowly but surely, we fell victim to the imminent bombings from Satan. I'll be the first to admit that I began losing faith in the youth group and the strength that we had during my junior/senior year. It just began feeling like what I had poured my life and service into just didn't seem like it mattered to anyone. I know that's an exaggeration but it really did feel that way. My view of the youth group and my roll in it became like Zadkine's sculpture. If you look at the sculpture again, you obviously see the gap in the man, but notice the arms. It is as if he is holding something that is not there. Like he is pouring all his strength into something that he isn't even holding. It's sad to say the least. But I felt like that man with my view of the youth group:
holding on to something that isn't there while seeing that it is
a desolate wasteland
a set of dry bones
a destroyed community
a city without a heart
In my mind, I felt like Satan had accomplished in destroying what I had grown to love and call my own. I blamed everyone I could: those who left the group, staff, graduates, myself. This list went on and on.
Then today I was on facebook and I came across a note written by Kevin Wood:
"i have heard much talk about how many churches are "fail" (nuff said.)
i know in my life, it was the community that helped me grow. (nuff said.)
we are taking back our youth group!
i am not talking about one church
i am talking about THE CHURCH!
we are going to build a comunity,
we are going to build a brother/sister-hood,
we are going to build an Army,
we are going to build a REAL CHURCH.
IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT YOU ARE STRUGLING WITH, WHAT YOU DOUBT, WHAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CANT OVERCOME.
THIS IS ABOUT LOVE.
1 peter 4:8
above all love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
WHOS WITH ME!!
SPREAD THE WORD!
LEAVE YOUR NUMBER. WE WILL MEET."
It hit me.
Like on Looney Toons when they drop the Acme Anvil on Elmer Fudd.
All I have felt over the past couple of years:
Left out to dry
All of this
I wasn't the only one who felt this way
But more importantly, I wasn't alone in wanting to see a change
I wasn't alone.
Moreover, Kevin reminded me that church isn't an institution, it's a body of believers
Each with their own part to play.
Yet when together, unified with hearts as one they become something greater:
The REAL CHURCH
I remember Nathalie's song Awaken and how for the longest time it was a prayer of our youth group, and for many years I felt it to be an unheard prayer, or at least an unanswered one.
Awaken our souls, lead us to Your light, take these dry bones and give them life
With Your mighty hand lead us to Your throne, we bow our knees to You alone
Make us a mighty army, teach us to declare Your glory to the world
Jesus is the banner we wave, You are the only one who can save
Breathe, breathe in me.
I think that the time has come
An army is forming
Though it's still small now
Soon it will be mighty
It could mean that Fusion as I knew it will never be again
And for the first time I'm okay with that
(and if you know me, that is really hard for me to admit)
Like Kevin said, We are taking this back
Not just the youth group because this goes beyond Fusion Youth
This is more than that
This is a revolution
This is barbaric Christianity at it's purest form
(and if you know me, that's my favorite type)
This is the formation of a community, to last for a life time
This is a brotherhood, to have your back at all times
This is an army, to fight side by side
THIS IS THE CHURCH, TO TAKE BACK TERRITORY
My view as the youth group as "the city without a heart" was too narrow
It's more than that
It's a desolated community that must be reformed and is being reformed
We can rebuild this city without a heart...