Hey to everyone reading this and following our teams blog. My name is John David Stonecypher, but most people simply call me J.D for short. I’m a Criminal Justice major with a focus in forensics and a minor in psychology at Jacksonville State University, Alabama.
So far it’s been quite an eventful trip, as I’m sure my teammates have let you know already. The last few days were spent helping out at an addiction treatment center called Teen Challenge, just outside of Dublin, Ireland. (Funnily enough though, none of the residents were teens.) Here our group was split up into two groups, with the ladies helping out in ladies building, and Austin, the only other guy on the team, and myself helping out at guys.
While Teen Challenge was happy for our help, all we could really do was give a hand with the odd jobs and chores. (Usually the teams that come to help them a specialized in constuction or something.) Austin and I ended up spending two days shoveling mulch into a storage room, so it could be dried and burned to heat the buildings. The first day we worked from about 10:30-3:00, with a tea break, (a must in this part of the work), and lunch break. We also worked alongside a rotating group of guys who were participating in the program, which is a faith centered treatment regime that takes at least 18 months to complete. The guys were all very passionate, and eager to share what God had done for them, and how he was turning their lives around. One of our most consistent helpers was about to move on to the final stage of the program, and couldn’t contain his joy over the hope Christ had given his life.
Durning the breaks we got to know them even better, as they shared their stories and some of their backgrounds with us, as they asked lots of questions about us as well. One of the most aweing things about the whole experience was something I have to admit I hadn’t expected. Often people tend to try and hide wrongs or bad choices they have made, even after they have turned their lives around. Fears of what others would think, or of losing the friends we now have often cause us to all keep some things very private, until at least we know the other people much better. Well, with them that wasn’t the case. They weren’t trying to hide that they were addicts. In fact, all they cared about was proclaiming the change Christ had brought about in their lives, which naturally meant they couldn’t hide from their pasts in which the very need for the change was rooted. Such openness and passion….. As the song says they truely were “sweetly broken, wholely surrendered.”
As this trip has only a few days left, I was also asked to share what God has taught me throughout this trip. To do this, I must first give a little background on myself, as well as make a confession. I am a Third Culture Kid, TCK, born to missionary parents serving in Africa. I spent 19 years, roughly, in Nigeria. I went on this trip wondering why God had had all the pieces fall into place. After all, I was a believer and had spent most of my life on missions. Well, here comes the confession, and its something you may already guess; I was becoming quite condescending, and unable to let go of my past. Here, through the missionaries and believers we worked with, as well as in the lives of my teammates, I found reasons to be humbled. Through the pastor of the church we worked with in Birmingham, I saw that it was possible to maintain passion and joy in an even more apathetic enviroment than the United States is today. I had struggled greatly with seeing this, and had let myself subcome to a sense of depression even. Now, I feel hope renewed. Through my teammate Austin, I witnessed someone who truely does love the Word of the Lord. Through my teammate Brittany, I wittnessed someone who truely does have a heart after God’s own, and what this and rightieous prayer can accomplish. In Allie I saw just how powerful being genuine can be. And through my leaders Shannon and Kim, I recieved compassion and understanding. Thank you to all who have been praying.