Me and Captain Kindness were invited by a transformation-minded church called Inverhills Church in the Minneapolis suburb of Inver Grove Heights, to be a part of a huge outreach event and to speak at their church. It was a whirlwind, jet-setter, in and out weekend that blessed me exponentially more than any contribution I could have possibly made.
For 9 years this outward-focused Church, out of a heart and mindset of community transformation, had been doing a massive free carnival, lunch and loaded school backpack giveaway. 1000 or so each year given specifically to those whom, as helped by the local police force and social services, needed it the most. This was their baby. People came to their church property and they were able to show that Inverhills Church cares.
But for God... the story is always bigger.
God challenged Pastor Bart Thompson to make this event about the ONE Church in the city. For whatever reason, even within city-unity movements, there is a great Protestant/Catholic divide. It's a painful chasm to which apostolic bridges must be built. I saw one built on Saturday. Pastor Bart reached out to the very large, local Catholic Church St. Patrick's to participate in this act of community kindness. It was not an easy "yes" because of a dynamic that I didn't expect.
As it turns out, there is a massive Mexican immigrant population in and around Minneapolis. So much so that Captain Kindness's Superhero in Me presentation had to be translated into Spanish as I spoke. There is a great deal of tension between many Mexicans and the Catholic Church. There is still considerable corruption and control within Mexico's Catholic Church and the local government. Many have actually had to flee because of it over the years. There are deep.... deep.... generational hurts that have carried into the Mexican-American experience. The stark reality is that many of those in most need of help and encouragement were from the Mexican community.
But through the difficult and courageous steps of men after God's heart; they agreed to reach out TOGETHER. On Saturday 1056 backpacks were given away to a beautiful cross-section of racial backgrounds (including Minnesota's large Somali population) via a beautiful cross-section of denominational backgrounds. But it was more than just backpacks. I watched under-validated ethnicity's embraced. I watched pride laid down and with love, kindness and humility.
A community was invited to play together on it's own front lawn again.
When St. Patrick's priest, Father Bob, got up to speak... he couldn't find the words. He, with dampened eyes, eventually pieced together words that clearly couldn't express what he was experiencing. It was The Kingdom of God. It was the ONE TRUE Church in action. She wasn't just meeting needs. She was releasing the pure, unselfish love of God... BY meeting needs together.