Back in May, my boys and I ran an endurance obstacle race called the Spartan. The boys finished in two and a half hours, while it took me over five hours! While I’ve done these types of races before, this was the most grueling ever. We had trained for months, climbing ropes, carrying 50lb bags of grain, moving 100lb logs, repeatedly doing things we had encountered in previous races. I personally thought I was ready to meet the challenge. However, the rain had saturated the back-woods course for two days. By the time our wave started, thousands had already covered the course. All exposed surfaces, the earth, the obstacles, and the people were covered in a layer of slimy mud, making it terribly difficult to get a grip on anything. One obstacle, called “The Atlas Stone”, a 100lb basketball-sized rock, seemed impossible to me. Also covered in slimy grime, I could not get it to budge, I could not grip tight enough to overcome the slipperiness. I was down on my knees, almost to the point of crying because I was so exhausted, trying to roll the stone up onto my thighs. With intense effort I was able to roll it onto my legs, but there was no way I could stand up and maintain control. Right then a friend I was racing with came up next to me and said, “Let’s get this one together.” I got up and the two of us together lifted the stone and carried it to the required spot. I cannot explain the relief I felt. I felt no shame in completing the obstacle with help, I just wanted to finish.
That race was almost two months ago and I have not been able to get that experience with the atlas stone out of my mind. So many of the young people coming to our Lighthouse gatherings are experiencing impossible challenges in their lives. I wish I could tell you all of their stories. From kids who are told regularly that, “things are better when you’re not here,” to situations so dire that law enforcement is involved. To some of the kids we are friends with, “calling the cops” is a regular part of life. Just in the last few months we’ve had at least eight kids move to other cities and other school districts. I’m deeply convicted that our role in their lives, our calling in this outreach, is to come alongside them and say, “Let’s get this one together.” Recently at one of our gatherings a teenager left us a simple anonymous note, “Lighthouse saved my life.” We’re hearing of kids going to summer church camps who have never been part of a church. We know of one family that has started going to church as a result of what has happened in the heart of their teenager.
While we are regularly encouraged by the things we see happening in the lives of teenagers, we also continue to face challenges in moving forward with the long-term vision for the Lighthouse. Four years ago when God told me that this was our calling, I thought I was ready. The personal struggles I had faced seemed to be the perfect training for this mission. The problems are many though; trying to find life-support in a dying community is resulting in many of my prayers starting with, “Lord, I don’t know how we’re going to do this.” I’m seeing slow but steady progress in the building of a financial support base, with one more church and three more individuals committing to become monthly supporters since our last newsletter.
In spite of the difficulties, I continue to be excited and even long for the day when I can devote myself full-time to helping young people in this community find their way. The Lord keeps reminding me that this is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the big issues that I’ve prayed about over the years was how to stay connected to the local school system. In the beginning, and even somewhat now, we’ve had the connection of having our boys in the local school, and therefore our involvement in their activities. I’ve prayed, “Lord, how will I stay connected once the boys are grown, I need a way to be known among the staff and students at Maconaquah.” I thought maybe that would be through some involvement in school technology, but nothing has panned out there. Earlier this year the answer came when I was offered the opportunity to become the Maconaquah high school boys cross country coach. This was something I did not see coming, but it is the perfect solution to my dilemma since it provides me a connection to kids and staff at the school while doing something I love.
Thank you to all of you who already support us financially and prayerfully. We are almost at $30,000 in the bank, but we have a long ways to go to build the Lighthouse Youth Outreach Center in Bunker Hill. We cannot move this “stone” alone, we need more friends to come alongside us as partners. For more information about our mission and vision for the future of the Lighthouse, you can check out our website at www.LHBH.org. You can also contact me directly at chris@LHBH.org and 765-271-6687. I would love to come share our story with you personally or any group you are involved in, including your churches. If you would like to send a gift, you can mail it to The Lighthouse, PO Box 336, Bunker Hill, IN 46914. All gifts are fully tax-deductible.
Chris Edgington, Director