When Diane and I came to East Colfax, I prayed a prayer, a specific request about a specific challenge I would face. I was uncertain of my ability to rise to this challenge; I knew I needed help.Jesus is beginning to answer that prayer.

The prayer: “Lord Jesus, give me the heart of a servant, the willingness to do the smallest and most uncomfortable tasks that will help other people.”

We have become good friends with James and Joanne, an older couple we met knocking on doors. They had been living in their car, until getting a room.  Since we met, they’ve testified to God’s faithfulness even when their car doubled as their bed. They know Jesus, I expect, better than I do. Most Tuesday evenings end with our team of 6 gathered in their humble room, laughing, praying and loving each other. I love to tease James. He reminds me of my dad, stubborn at times, but real and lovable. I am not sure of the details, but they were able to buy a house. Way out in a prairie town, where prices are cheaper. To get from a motel into a house is a near-miracle.

As with any move there were logistical challenges, including dealing with their earthly belongings that were in storage. They now had a place for their stuff, but no plan.Talking to them it was apparent, if we didn’t help, this was going to be a fiasco. We needed to somehow serve. I rented a truck and recruited some bodies to load it. I found bodies to unload it on the other end. This was last Friday, so it was brutally cold. But moving day is moving day and they couldn’t afford the rent of multiple locations.

The plan — get a truck, find bodies, load it, drive it up there, unload it, drive home exhausted.How would I describe the day? It was beautiful; it was horrible! Horrible? Well, I wanted to follow Google’s directions, James wanted to go the way he always went. I gave in, add 30 minutes. James followed his own instincts about the turn-off, my map function didn’t work, add 30 miles. We all wandered in circles when we got to the community and when we unloaded the truck, we had to take breaks inside because our fingers were numb. I didn’t eat for 7 hours which is death for my blood sugar. The ramp of the truck and inside were like an ice rink from the snow. And that is only half of the story!But we served. We served our friends and helped them into their new home, away from the squalor of East Colfax. It was cold, hard and uncomfortable. And, it was beautiful; beautiful to see them in their home; beautiful to laugh and have fun even while we worked hard; beautiful to serve.

Back to my prayer. As Senior Pastor of an ever-growing church. I didn’t spend many days like last Friday. I had to protect my time for prayer, teaching and leadership. I had people who took care of things like that. Help was still given, but it was usually someone else who did the gritty work of service, not me. On Colfax, life is different. Diane and I walked into a community awash in need, starting with nothing but ourselves. Gone are the staff I could send out for the truck, hundreds of volunteers to call and the budget to make stuff happen. Here we knew we would need to simply serve.  Here we show Jesus through our service so that we can share Jesus as Savior, something always easier for Diane than me.

So I asked Jesus to give me the heart of a servant. As I said, I knew I needed help.Jesus has been answering that prayer. Not only did we serve by helping our friends move, we had a wonderful day, filled with laughter and beautiful movements. That was the other part of my prayer. I didn’t just want to have the willingness to serve, a grim-faced commitment to working hard. I wanted joy!

Last Friday, I experienced that.The next morning, early, I was sitting up in a chair with a cup of coffee, spending time in prayer, my body aching from the previous day. Diane was still laying in bed and we started talking about the day, laughing about all that happened, imagining James and Joanne, for the first time in 2 years, waking up in a house. Joyful servanthood.  Jesus answers prayer. Pray for…James and Joanne as they settle into their peaceful life on the prairie. Pray for…all of us as we read these words, to each seek the heart of a servant.