Thursday, April 03, 2008


This last Sunday afternoon I served at a local ministry in Portland called WellBeing. It is a ministry to serve those living with HIV/AIDS. This is driven with a focus to do all that they can to bring comfort and healing to those living with it and those living around it.

I don't know what was the most exciting part of serving at WellBeing. Possibly it was discussing theology and the works of C.S. Lewis with a cross dressing man or playing a hilarious game of Apples to Apples. Maybe it was the delicious meal, which I was drooling over the whole time I served, and finally getting to sit down and eat it with a friend of mine from under the Burnside Bridge. But buried within all of this, God was stretching and growing me. 

That cathedral in north Portland has seen its better days of awe inspiring worldly majesty. In the basement of that century old decrypt cathedral I was a part of something. I remember looking at the back of the church, mismatched bricks through decades of repairs, and seeing the path lined with brightly colored tulips bursting forth (hang in there, I know I'm dropping some hardcore touchy feely jargon); but this was only a glimpse of what was happening inside. Deep in the basement the physical building was not doing too much better with broken everything; from sink nobs to garbage disposals. But within the framework of the physical old and broken building there was life bursting forth. 

This same new life was bursting out of each of us there. Within my worldly-sin-ridden-self-loving body, new life was bursting forth! By laying everything down in the pursuit of being a lover of God I experienced a new life with it's well-spring in Jesus. Now, the inappropriate disgusting humor of a man, who all his life was treated like trash far worse then the trash spewing from his mouth, rolled off my shoulders. The unabashed flirting and objectifying actions towards me and my body, was not only a massive wake up call to how we as men treat woman, but was something I was able to return with love and compassion as opposed to my old self sparking repulsion or bitterness.

Awkward and uncomfortable? At times - for sure! But only because I have sheltered myself for so long within the walls of the Church and don't know how to engage this broken suffering world yearning for something more. But even more then uncomfortable, the experience was eye opening and fun. I am learning more and more, there is no better experience then to lay down your life to be used by God. The joy and the peace that flow out of being used by God is nothing short of glorious.


Elisa Lehto said...

Were they Easter Lilies?
Because then that'd be pretty amazing in and of itself!

David Knepprath said...

When I read your comment, the mental picture of the scene came together really fuzzy in my head. Then I realized it was because they were Tulips not Lilies!

...and if they were easter lilies, I never would have made it in the door because I would have just sat down and smelled them all day.

Amanda Olson said...

Thanks for coming! We would love to have you come back. It is true that it can be very uncomfortable but then again God's work is rarely comfortable.  They are an amazing group of people and need God’s love just like me and you. This is why I keep coming back, in hopes that God can use me to portray that love to them. Blessings, Amanda Olson

Tiana said...

Hey David,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your heart to serve others. I can hear it and feel it from over 5,000 miles away. May you grow more and more in the love of Christ Jesus.

~J.J. said...

David, You really do have a way with words...
Thank you so much for sharing how you felt, and were used by God. As I read, the faces of our new found friends came to mind again and my heart was breaking all over, and some of those uncomfortable feelings were coming back. But the thing I remember most about that day was the overwhelming peace and love I did not know I had filling my heart and mind that hopefully overflowed to those around us.
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

David, Although I did not get to meet you on Sunday, thank-you so much for sharing your experience at WellBeing as it serves as an encouragement to those of us who serve WellBeing on a regular basis.

Thought you might me interested in a little history of the church building itself (if someone catches inaccurate historical facts, please correct).This building was the first African American church in Portland. It was originally located in downtown Portland. Since it was "unseemly" to have a minority church in prime downtown, the KKK paid to have it moved to its present location. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr spoke at this church two times during his life. The building wears its social scars well, don't you think?! Lisa Dashiell

David Knepprath said...

Holy cow Lisa!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I'm just sitting here in awe, trying to process the history of that building. Awesome!