Kristi Lichtenburg is the principal of Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, our Ministry Partner in South Dallas that helps at-risk kids graduate high school and provides a powerful Christian environment to raise up leaders. In light of Todd’s “TOGETHER” series, we wanted to present Kristi’s story about going on mission… TOGETHER.
When one Community Group approached me about five years ago to hear ways they could serve at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, I never imagined how transforming the relationship would be.
There were three families in the group, and they invited me to come to a CG meeting to talk about CCA – what we do, where we need help, and ways people could serve. Since that fateful day, this group of friends has come alongside us in so many ways I can’t remember them all! But here are a few of the many ways they’ve helped:
- The group brings meals to CCA twice a month (and partner with another group to prepare the meals).
- They help with our facility – organization, technology, repairs, etc. – allowing us to serve more students within the same space. It has also made our everyday experience better, because we have reliable internet connections and functioning computers.
- They take pictures and videos for use in our Christmas cards, social media, etc..
- They are willing to surround students during crisis to help make and implement a plan, including providing childcare for students who have children of their own.
- They help connect CCA staff with their own network of people and resources, to address unique situations and solve specific problems.
The Value of “Together”
When I try to think of the “big picture” lessons I have learned from this amazing partnership, one that clearly arises is the value of serving together.
- Community is deepened through serving together. Working together to build a shed, prepare a meal, or make a video gives you opportunities to see how others love and serve – to recognize and cultivate strengths and to honestly address weaknesses.
- Someone understands your frustration, discouragement, and broken heart when things don’t go well. Group members can help you remember the mission of the ministry and help problem-solve and encourage, so that you are better equipped to serve.
- Other CG members can rotate in and out as they are available, and the Ministry Partner still benefits from consistency.
- I’m not sure who first said, “You can’t give what you don’t have,” but it is so true in serving. If you are running on empty, you are not prepared to pour into the lives of others. But if you have a group of people that’s pouring into you, you have all the more to give others!
The Impact on a Partner
One day when this Community Group was volunteering on a special project at CCA, some of our students were having what we call “a bad day.” (And a “bad day” in South Dallas can look a little different than it might in your neighborhood!) Students were being disrespectful and uncooperative, so I was embarrassed that volunteers would see them that way and was scared they wouldn’t want to work with them any longer. (I guess it’s similar to having company at your home and having your children misbehave.)
Meekly I said one of the volunteers, “Thank you for loving our students, even when they’re difficult.” He responded, “We love the Lord, and we love you, and we know that God loves the students – so we do too.” I have played that over and over in my head since then, and that one phrase has been a huge encouragement to me over these past five years.
It has been a joy to collaborate with a Community Group and to watch the countless ways they have poured into the lives of students and staff at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy.
For a list of ministry partners that tend to have great opportunities for groups, click here.