Mobassadors Day 6 (Friday)

"And he said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.' For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat." -Mark 6:31

The Lord instituted rest as a reward for his followers who faithfully executed his commands, and on our last day in Alabama, we did so. Leaving around 10 A.M., we took off for Gulf Shores, a beautiful stretch of white sand on the Gulf of Mexico that was about an hour and a half away. On the way down, we listed to some great music that set the upbeat and fun mood for the entire day. After we got to the beach, we set up right on the water and immediately got to work on our tans. 


s Deonte went for a light jog down the beach to a distant pier, the rest of us began a game of pickup football with Justin, Garret and me beating Josh, Dingyi, and Leah by a whopping score of 35-7. Following that beatdown, Josh, Deonte, and Dingyi all took turns single-handedly feeding the local Sea Gull population with scraps from their lunches. 

As the day progressed, everyone took turns lounging in Josh's sand chair, reading, and conducting chicken fights in the frigid gulf water. 

As our day on the beach came to a close, we left for Lambert's Cafe, home of the thrown rolls. At this well-known local establishment, rolls are thrown at patrons from across the room, waiters are constantly pacing the floor waiting for someone to flag them down to share their giant bowls of sides, and the drink jugs are bigger than most people's upper bodies. 

Upon returning to Mobile, the group ended the night by joining the University Church of Christ, our host Church, for their weekly Friday game night filled with board and card games. 

As our week in Mobile ended, there were some valuable lessons learned. First, God is willing to use anyone and everyone for his plan and all he needs is a receptive heart and willing spirit. Second, there are communities in our own backyards that are in desperate need of hearing God's word and it is our responsibility to spread it. Third, it is of utmost importance to recognize and thank God for all of the blessings that so many of us enjoy and to pray that he grants us the energy to assist those who are not afforded the same luxuries. Fourth and finally, the Blacksburg Church of Christ campus ministry is filled with a special group of students; filled with hard workers and devoted Christians, there is no limit to what they can accomplish when presented with the opportunity. The Mobile Mission Trip was an eye-opening and enlightening experience, and worth every second of the trip. 

Written By: Max Morrison

Mobassadors Day 2 (Monday)

*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK* "IT'S THE MO-BILE INNER CITY CHURCH OF CHRIST!"

Today began in a bit of a rush for me, since I woke up about 10 minutes before we had to leave, but as Curt knows, that's plenty of time for me to get dressed and eat breakfast. Leah and Dingyi had cooked some eggs and biscuits. Our fearless leader, Deonte, was incapacitated after consuming a few too many Conecuh sausages last night, so our first stop was CVS to get Pepto Bismol. Then it was off to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for projects.

At the church we began our day with song and we were graced with the melodious accompaniment of Big Chuck. He gave us a brief history of MICCC and imparted us with some words of wisdom to help us be more effective in our outreach to the community. "Different doesn't mean deficient."

Max joined us for lunch at this point. He had a phone interview with a mysterious government organization earlier in the morning, and had to stay behind, but he graciously offered to make us some gourmet sandwiches.

After lunch and some role play training with Chuck, we went out into the community. In Birdsville we met and prayed with several residents. Each had their own story, but one that stood out was Latasha. She was a single mom and in need of food. We bought her a meal at Church's Chicken, and let her know about the grocery giveaway that MICCC has each month.

For dinner we had some of Leah's famous chicken pot pie and green beans. Chuck had given us advice earlier on what not to buy for the food pantry, saying "No one likes green beans!" so we had to prove him wrong.

Leah led us in a devo, where we talked about what happens to people who never hear the gospel. It was definitely not an easy question. Thank the Lord for His grace - and may we reach as many as possible with God's Gospel.

In Christ, Garrett Denton

The Inner City Church building

The Inner City Church building

Praying with a community member

Praying with a community member

Getting ready for a day of outreach

Getting ready for a day of outreach

Chuck Griffis, the minister of MICCC

Chuck Griffis, the minister of MICCC

Picking up supplies for work projects

Picking up supplies for work projects

Role playing in preparation for outreach

Role playing in preparation for outreach

Mobassadors Day 5 (Thursday, March 9th, 2017)

Four days ago, before heading into the inner city for the first day, Deonte said some words that stuck with me the whole week: “Please guys, don’t make it about yourself this week.”  Pretty simple, but I think these were profound words.  Like after praying for patience, I should have suspected God was going to test me the whole week on this.

It was Thursday, the last day working in the inner city and the day I especially wanted to keep Deonte’s words in mind.  I stumbled out of my taco-shaped air mattress around 7:40am.  I’m always so naive to think that I’ll get sleep on this trip.  It was a bagel-morning breakfast because we were trying to get to the building early for Chuck’s lesson.  I decided to shave my head like Chuck’s to see if I could lip sync his lesson today more like him.  Ha, just kidding Chuck. Luckily I have a bad memory; your lessons are always fresh and meaningful.  

Leah made my lunch for the 5th time while I was in the shower; she might be the most efficient and hardworking person I’ve ever met.  (I appreciate you hon).  Lord knows her patience is tested on my sloth moving butt in the morning.  Ha, I definitely appreciate that Garrett is on this trip with me because I am not always the last person to be waited on. Haha, he goes at my pace. Garrett man you can be our 4th roommate.  

We arrived at the church around 9:15am. You know that when Chuck’s beating you to the church building, one of two things happened.  Either (1) What-a-burger is serving free burgers from the church building or (2) he is fired up about his ministry. We're still holding out for What-a-burger (one of these days Chuck). Chuck gave us a great lesson this morning about false hope vs fallen hope vs true hope, assuring us that we had a message to share that separated our grocery/clothing giveaways from others. 

After the lesson, we splintered out into finishing our working projects. I can never fully tally up all that we get done. This is the beauty of working with a small number of college age students vs numerous high school students; everyone is autonomous.  That being said, I do tally up Leah because she's just impressive (or I’m really competitive, ha).  I think she finished up the door trim, braced an outside railing, raked part of the parking lot, organized the pantry, and entered grocery-giveaway data, probably among many other things. I assured her that I had many deep thoughts during the time she was working. In the end though, keeping an overall tally is not important. You just do as much as you can.

At lunch we had some authentic, head-tearing, Gulf-coast cuisine from “Mud Bugs”. It was the first time I had ever tried crawdads. Chuck said he'd give us $10 to anyone who'd suck the heads out of them. Little did he know how daring (or disgusting?) our group was (lead by Leah naturally), so he immediately added that we'd only get money if he uploaded the video to Facebook (a condition that relied on him… pretty sly Chuck). 

The most rewarding part of my mission trip was going out in the community today. We spent the whole afternoon canvassing (doorknocking) Flicker, Fearn, and Duval Street to sign people up for a grocery giveaway. We were casting our fishing nets so to speak. I love when people are grateful that we are in the community. I'm refreshed every time I go to Mobile by the friendliness and openness of the community. One couple that Leah, Josh, and I prayed with were sitting in their car with a bible on their dash. They asked us if we were scared because they saw us talking before knocking on a door. Little did they know we were joking about me singing a solo “Sign me up for the Christian jubilee” on a doorstep.  (IQs drop 50 pts on average in my group). The couple encouraged us that Jesus would protect us and for us to keep doing what we were doing. At the next house we joked that Josh was stoop kid. 

Around 5:30pm, half of our group went back to church to put the finishing touches on some projects. Meanwhile Leah, Deonte, and I finished Duval street which was such a huge blessing. Deonte really connected with some children in the community who were so precious. They raced him down the sidewalk as Leah and I talked to their parents. They were interested in the future grocery giveaway and we all prayed together. All the kids wanted to help us and come to church. Deonte gave two sisters a pair of Ambassadors bracelets and wrote the associated verse on a piece of paper for them to look up and memorize for when they were older.  This reminded Deonte and I about what Jesus says about turning and becoming like a child. 

The whole afternoon was a feelgood, happy experience everyone wants on mission trips, but to get back to what Deonte said originally, it's not about me or my feelings or really getting anything on a mission trip. Mission trips aren't about your experience, but about what the church needs. From working in the inner city one summer, there's a stark difference between a group forcing a schedule versus requesting a schedule that will benefit a church the most. The difference is who “it's” about, who is being served, and who the master is. Serving will never mean the one being served is indebted to you, which is probably how all of us act sometimes.  I definitely do.  Instead, I hope the Spirit enables us to serve the Lord when it's inconvenient for us, and to praise him when we're uncomfortable, and to truly make “it” (everything) about Him.

 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.  Romans 11:34-36 ESV

Written By: Justin Boblitt

Mobassadors day 4, Wednesday

“’The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the LORD of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” (Matthew 9:37)

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As it was my turn to help Leah with the breakfast this morning, I woke early and rushed towards the kitchen with great enthusiasm. I successfully heated the bacon in the oven;however, she also assigned me to prepare cookies. Unfortunately my mind became distracted and I forgot all about them. My lunch bag reflected my grievous error, where a picture of me next to my burnt cookies depicted the tragedy. What a great start to the day.

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Heading out to the church building, we prepared for a productive day.Sadly we sang without this Chuck this morning, so we had to sing extra loud to make up for his absence. Each of us promptly got to work on our projects. Chuck had recently been donated a 19” HP All-in-One touchscreen computer that was in beautiful condition. The church had an available podium that previously housed a computer setup, until one day Chuck slammed emphatically on it so hard that it crashed through. Talk about powerful preaching. The hole needed to be cut to size to house the larger computer, so a circular saw and hand saw seemed like appropriate tools, withsandpaper being used to clean up the rough edges. Dingyi and Max finished up the ramp and fixed the trimming on the door in the front. Max added more layers of nonstick paint on the ramp to aid in traction. Leah and Justin finished and painted the railing alongside a set of stairs on the front of the building. Dingyi and Garrett replaced the glass on the floodlights illuminating the sign out front, and Deonte helped everyone out while also documenting our work. Once our work projects were done we had lunch with Chuck and then went out into the field.

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We had a successful campaigning day. Chuck brought us around to one lady’s house where she was working towards a college degree. She said she was frustrated but pushing through, and the students among us were able to reassure her that she was not alone; we were going through the same challenge. After that we canvased around a block of houses, letting them know about the church’s grocery giveaway on the third Thursday of the month. We give everybody a flier, but only a few actually give us enough contact information to work off of. Certainly the LORD needs more hands to be delivering these flyers. Only having only seven people may seem like a hindrance, but Chuck has expressed his gratitude towards our services that we provide for him, and he will be having many more groups coming to serve him and the LORDs work.

People slowly mingled into the auditorium for Wednesday night church.The service was led by our group, with Max leading some beautiful songs and Deonte giving a lesson centered around Jesus’genealogy. He showed in this rather boring section of scripture that God used imperfect people to brin Jesus into the world. David and Tamar, who committed terrible sins,were still used for God’s purpose. Many people in the church are broken and feel useless, but if God was able to use those people in the Bible, then he could most certainly use the members of the church to fulfill his work in the Inner City. Deonte referenced the animated movie Despicable Me to express how we can be changed. Gru started off evil, but after three girls entered his life they grew on him and he was transformed into a loving and caring charcter. Similarly God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit can transform us from the ways of our pastintoholy and loving servants for him.

Sometimes it can feel as if we are distanced from God, like we are being abandoned by him. Garrett led this discussion in our devo tonight, and e all agreed that that has happened to us. One of the passages we read was from Job; his life was full of uncertainty of whether God was on his side or not. God was testing him hard and he held under the pressure. Job is a unique book in that we get the third person perspective on Job, and we see Satan messing about with him. Although we only see the first person experience of our life, we need to remember that God is always with us if we believe in him and he will guide us through our difficult times.

In Him, Josh Arnold

Mobassadors Day 3 (Tuesday)

Today was a productive day, both on building improvement projects at Mobile Inner City Church of Christ and out in the neighborhood. The day started at 7:30 for Mobassadors: a couple of folks woke up earlier than the rest of the group to fix breakfast. By the time of 8:15, the whole team was fed and packed up ready to roll out.

As soon as our van hit Mobile Inner City Church of Christ the group met up with the pastor Chuck Griffis and had our morning devotional. After the devotional the team spited up in two: one group headed to Sam’s Club and Lowe’s to pick up canned goods and materials for the projects we planned to do. Following is a picture of the cans they got for the food pantry in MICCC.

Pantry Supplies

The rest of Mobassadors stayed in the church building. Josh, a member in our group and student at Radford University, helped Chuck to organize his forms and to add new information. “Chuck asked me if I want him to be here or leave the office when I entered the data, and I said yes cuz’ I wanted him to be able to do it by himself later.” Meanwhile, other members who stayed at the church building tackled some of the projects.

By lunch time, the dining room floor was patched, the handicap slope was painted with slip-resistant strips, the one-pound white rice bags were made and the front porch flood lights were fixed. We also made some progress on some of the bigger projects like the left side front porch railing. Justin, Virginia Tech graduate and former MICCC intern, and Garrett, Virginia Tech graduate and 4th time Mobassador, put their engineering skills to good use by measuring the stairs and cutting 4*4s and 2*4s to attach a hand rail to. Unfortunately, none of the concrete we had was still good, so we decided to wait till tomorrow to pour concrete down the hole.

Work Project

After lunch, two brothers, Marvin and Anthony, came to meet with us to go out to the community for door knocking. These two guys have been helping chuck with outreach and other work in the congregation for the past 4~5 years and they know the neighborhood fairly well. Chuck told us to split into two group and Marvin and Anthony each went with a group to help us find households that might be interested. When talking to Anthony on our van ride out to the community, he mentioned that the relations between blocks and different neighborhood are complicated at times so it would be better if we just walk away when seeing a street fight. “I was shot 4 times and stabbed 3 times in the hood, I still got a hole in my thigh.” Anthony told us when talking about the neighborhood. 

During the outreach, we made a couple stops to talk with folks who Chuck knows would possibly be interested in the grocery giveaway. One of the houses we stopped by was Bianca’s house. According to Chuck, Bianca is actively job searching, but her biggest problem is getting to and from work - and most jobs do require having a reliable form of transportation. To help with this Chuck suggested we buy her a one-month bus pass so that she can have bus rides to work until she gets her first pay check, then she would be able to afford her own bus pass. So we did. Bianca was happy to see the bus pass and asked us all to pray with her.

Just when we were rolling out from Bianca’s driveway, Deonte spotted a nail in the rear-left tire of the Inner City Church van. Luckily the tire still held pressure long enough to get us to the gas station. A mechanic helped us to jam a tire plug right into the nail hole. We were able to hit the road in no time. Following is a picture of an old pump that the gas station kept from it's early years.

At the end of the outreach, a guy recognized Chuck and approached us. Later we figured out that his name was Marco. Chuck originally met Marco when he was 14 years old at a local store and started coming to bible school and worship services with Chuck. He expressed great appreciation to Chuck: “If not for Chuck, I’d be out on the street now.” He also mentioned that the Church also kept him out of trouble. Marco said that he is 24 now. He has a job but he was applying to another one.

In the evening, Leah Bobblitt made dinner for our group and invited the ladies from ladies’ bible study. The team put plates together for them and served them dinner.

After dinner, we returned to the University Church of Christ student center, though we were exhausted, we still had a great devotional by Justin Bobblitt. The discussion was about whether its okay to offer God something in order to get him to do you a favor. At the end of that discussion we all agreed that it was not okay - for a variety of reasons: as Christians, our willingness to do God’s good work should only be motivated by our love for Him. Also, approaching God in this manner can easily turn into putting God to the test or mistaking your will for God’s will. 

Overall, today was packed with physical and spiritual work. Tiring as it sounds, and tiring as it was, I still found it meaningful and beneficial to the heart. Mobile inner city area is very different from Blacksburg. But just as love is described in 1 Corinthians 13, being different does not mean they are less deserving to know about Jesus and His great love. We should have express love when we are talking to them, when we are knocking on their doors, and when we are studying the Bible with them at their homes.

Reported by:  Dingy Zhang   3/7/17