Matt James Reviews our Hometown SLAM Week in Hilliard, OH
Hilliard, Ohio looks drastically different from what I remember 7 years ago. Where there used to be open fields now stand tall apartment buildings, housing developments, and condominiums. Along Main St. in the quaint downtown of Old Hilliard, exist several new restaurants, cafes, and soon a microbrewery. The place feels almost like a tourist destination, with the popular attractions that appeal to millennials like me. An old apartment complex, which used to be Section 8 housing now rents for an average of $1,000/month. Construction is everywhere, from the expansion of roads to new businesses and buildings. To capture what is happening, one might simply use the word "development."
This concept of development is different for those of us who want to participate with God in the world. I think of this verse: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10). According to God’s Word, the most significant development that can take place is the development of human beings. People are his workmanship, not city infrastructure, business ventures or the aesthetics of a building. Between the facilitators (myself, Brandon Galford, Kelly Jobe, Chelsie Waldron and Josie Putnam) and the splendid hosts of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship; pastors Irma and Joon Chon; we emphasized this kind of development.
The theme verse this summer is 2 Peter 3:13: But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Brandon, our speaker for the week, emphasized that righteousness means acting rightly (according to God) in your relationship with another. Righteous activity is inseparable from how people relate to one another. Partnering with God in fulfilling His promise of bringing righteousness home comes forth in how we treat our neighbors. Part of our efforts this week: volunteering with a lunch program for low-income children and refugees; working with a community garden program; facilitating children’s games that foster values of respect, teamwork, and compassion, might seem like repeat activities. But in a world where "development" means our cities become bigger and better and faster and cooler, to foster neighborly love and care for the most vulnerable among our communities always remains a new activity. When you consider the people affected by the ever-changing landscape of "real life," service to your neighbor with the righteousness of God is never a trite thing.
This year several youth groups from the central Ohio area participated with us, engaging in our times of morning devotion and prayer, daily service projects, and evening sessions of worship, exhortation from the Bible, and relational-focused activities. The youth were cheerful, hardworking, kind to one another and eager to give of themselves during the heat of the summer days when they could be doing something else. This week was a testimony to the development that has taken place in their lives, the kind of character development that comes from hearing God’s Word and choosing to do what is right. While the development of Hilliard is obvious in the traditional sense, what is more striking, and of significance to our Lord, is the development of relationships and personal character, which manifests in the care for those who most need it.
Written by Matt James