A photo story from Ten2 2019 to Ten2 2020
Looking around the city she would call home for the next couple of months, she saw historical buildings holding modern shops inside their walls, beautiful and vibrant, just like the people going in and out of them. She noticed a bold community who owned the history of the church but held inside them a modernity that bypassed Christianity. The city was a picture of its own culture, and she recognized there a need for purposeful relationships in order to expand the family of God in England.
This time last year, Hailey was arriving in Birmingham with the Ten2 Project. Knowing no one and nothing, she was terrified until she walked into Oikos Church, where she would be working. She immediately felt like she had been there for years. The fears she had bowed to a surreal feeling of readiness, fueled by those around her who “never stopped smiling”. They told her that “oikos” meant family, and the welcoming nature of each person there convinced her she had just become part of theirs.
This year Hailey is participating in her second Ten2 Project. She is stationed in North Carolina and commutes to Virginia to teach dance, and even though she isn’t back with her Oikos family as originally planned, her previous summer is actively impacting this present one. Let me give you an example! In England, Hailey was introduced to a French exchange student by their host moms. Hailey felt that she should begin purposefully spending time with this girl. One day when they were together, she heard Hailey pray and said, “I’ve never heard anyone pray before. You mentioned something about grace—what is that?” The two began having more conversations. It worked out beautifully because Hailey has always loved French, so her friend would teach her French as Hailey taught her the Bible. Hailey learned that the girl had never even heard the name of Jesus. It was shocking. This girl was so intelligent and knowledgeable about so many things that Hailey assumed she would have heard the story of God. This caused her to understand again the need for intentionality with all people, and she was learning it in real time from those around her at Oikos.
In her first days in England, God surrounded Hailey with a family to comfort her homesickness. He gave her purpose through Oikos church’s ministries to make her time fruitful for Him. He wove discipleship into the layers of a friendship so that a young French girl could hear his name for the first time and know what His grace is. Most importantly, in Hailey’s own words, “God is developing still today what he started in me in England… Since I can’t be at Oikos, I can look at my dance studio as ministry for the moment. I can welcome my friends into my home, putting extra effort and detail into hospitality. I can approach all people with a sense of service. Oikos treated everyone so gracefully as family. How can I do the same?”
Take time now to reflect on where you were this time last year. Often it is by remembering how God has moved around and in us that we recover our gratitude for His goodness toward us. Often that gratitude is the water He uses to bud our obedience and desire to join Him in His work of loving, serving, and sharing good news. The challenge from Hailey’s story is then to intentionally partner with Him in building His family though those very means.
– Haley Henson, Ten2 2020 Participant & Storyteller