I live in this overcrowded, beautiful neighborhood in Chicago called West Ridge. It’s a mosaic of refugees, immigrants, and native-born Americans. Along with a small ministry team, I have the privilege of serving many refugee and immigrant families—helping to provide for felt needs, building friendships, and sharing Jesus with them.
Life in urban ministry can be ever-changing and ever-challenging, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. It means meeting people from all over the world, forging deep friendships, and feeling well outside of my comfort zone. It means encountering problems I can’t fix and situations outside of my control. Most days I show up and wonder how I will help, serve, and love my neighbors well, but I don’t think I’m alone in this. Many of us experience feeling uncomfortable and ill-equipped every day.
When I find myself here, I remember Moses in Exodus 3-4. The Lord meets him through a burning bush and calls Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt. Surprised by and terrified of the Lord’s request, Moses used every excuse—each showing how uncomfortable he truly felt. In Exodus 4:2, Scripture says, “Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’”
A staff—a simple, ordinary staff. That’s what was in his hand, and it was through this staff that the Lord set Israel free.
Every day, you and I have similar conversations with the Lord. He usually interrupts us in the most unlikely moments and asks, “What’s that in your hand?” In my neighborhood, this question usually comes at the end of a long day. On my walk home, the Lord asks me to visit one more family, and as I give him excuse after excuse, He asks His question: “What’s that in your hand?”
I’m usually not holding anything. I’m not convinced we always are. More times than not, as I walk the streets of Chicago, I carry the Holy Spirit, His love and truth. When I walk into people’s home—feeling uncomfortable and out of place—I carry a gift that far exceeds anything I could buy from the store. I carry Jesus.
He gave Moses a staff. He gave you gifts, talents, and abilities, and He’s given us His Spirit. So, friend, when we feel outside of our element, well outside of our comfort zone, the Father whispers to our hearts a question He already knows the answer to. “What’s that in your hand?”
It takes courage to see what’s in our hands and choose to let the Father use it, but when we do, people collide with Him. They encounter Jesus, and they experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, friend, what’s that in your hand? Our world needs it, and it needs your courage to say, “yes” when the Father asks to use it to build His Kingdom.
About the Author:
Kate Berkey is a writer, speaker, and missionary living on the north side of Chicago where she works with refugees and immigrants with Devon Oasis Ministry. She is passionate about helping people, especially women, discover the heart of the Father and live courageously because of who He is and who He says they are! She and her co-author recently published their first book, A Place Called Braverly: A dare to live courageously, dream boldly, and influence bravery. Kate is all about family and deeply desires to help others find belonging in the family of the Kingdom of God. More than anything else, she longs to walk women home to the heart of the Father—their creator and sustainer. Kate is a lover of being on the water, running on Lakefront Trail, and gathering dear friends around the table.
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