CSM Chicago will be posting a blog series called "Interrupted: The Unexpected Movements of God Working Through CSM's Ministry". If you have a story about how God interrupted your life through a CSM trip, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Far too often, we view obedience to the Lord as merely an obligation. Obedience, however, is walking in freedom from whatever holds us back from our true identity in Christ. One of the loudest lies in our culture is that obedience to the Lord is something we do out of lack, rather than out of abundance. In God’s grace, he often chooses to speak loudly and interrupt this mindset. This was the case with Moses Timlin.
Over the past couple of years, the Lord has done an amazing work in Moses, and it all began when he was a leader in a college ministry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). At the time, Moses was largely focused on the discipleship ministry he was leading college students in, and although he was aware of social problems, living out the gospel through the passionate pursuit of social justice was not a major cornerstone of his faith. It was around this time that a prayer team came to UIC to prophetically pray over people. A woman prophesied that Moses would soon be getting more involved in the pursuit of social justice. Something about this connected with Moses. Over the course of the year that followed, the Lord continued to confirm this idea in various ways.
Eventually, Moses came across CSM while planning a service trip for the college ministry. The vision of CSM resonated with Moses, and he realized that working as a city host would be a tremendous learning and growing opportunity for him. He decided to apply to be a city host at CSM Chicago, and on his shadowing CSM trip, he helped pass out food at a food pantry to patrons on the streets. This work was grueling, but he thought to himself that this, serving and blessing people freely and literally meeting their needs, was the joy of the Christian walk, and he wanted to be a part of it. He was offered a Chicago city hosting job for the summer 2013 season right after his senior year of college, and he felt that the Lord was telling him this was an amazing opportunity that he should not pass up, so he took it.
CSM training was a challenging experience for Moses. Even though he had grown up in Chicago, he was being made to think critically for the first time about issues such as poverty and white privilege. It was tense and emotional, and at times it felt like hopelessness. Moses came to terms, however, with the fact that even this season of discomfort was grace. He was being confronted with the reality of the brokenness of the world. This was not supposed to be easy or fun, and, though it was hard, the Lord was using this season to give Moses the desire to engage with these issues and to mobilize others to engage with them.
For every ounce of difficulty CSM training offered Moses, the actual process of hosting groups blessed him tenfold. He loved serving with different groups every week, carrying the presence of Jesus with them, and sharing with them in love and grace the reality of the injustices of the city. It was during this time that he grew in his walk with God and learned how to live in a way that gave life both to himself and others. Ultimately, through this process of engaging with the brokenness of the world with hope placed firmly in Christ and responding with love and grace, he grew to understand who we was.
Moses stepped out of his role as city host into a year-long Apprenticeship with CSM, which involved him serving 25 hours per week at a ministry site of his choosing. Moses chose to serve at an after-school program and ministry called Sunshine Gospel Ministry, which is in one of the poorer and more violent neighborhoods of Chicago. At Sunshine, he saw a great deal of what he had been learning about as a city host unfolding in practical ways before his eyes in the lives of the children and staff he was ministering to and with. During Moses’ Apprenticeship year, he helped out with the after-school program at Sunshine, progressively taking more and more autonomy in the ministry until he was teaching lessons to the children. The entire year was another massive growing and learning process. For Moses, working at Sunshine was like experiencing a slice of God’s kingdom. This was a place of hope in a broken neighborhood, and there was a deep focus on making sure all were known, loved, and understood.
Coming out of his Apprenticeship in the fall of 2014, Moses struggled with fear that his next move would make or break him. In his fear, the Lord interrupted him, essentially saying, “This is who you are. You can walk in the freedom of that, or you can see it as a burden.” God was telling Moses to use his newly understood identity as a child of God to direct his steps. Moses ended up taking a full time job with Sunshine as the director of the after-school program and summer camp. The Lord richly blessed his ministry during this time and continued to grow him. Now, going into the fall of 2015, Moses plans to return to UIC to pursue a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning. This is something that Moses would not have thought he would be doing just a few years ago. Moses hopes to use this degree to continue to bring God’s good kingdom to Earth by breaking chains and cycles that keep people held back and by empowering them to thrive in their identity in Christ.
God used CSM to lead Moses to see why the Lord created him, why He gave him certain passions, who He is as a Heavenly Father, that He is deeply good, and that we can usher in His kingdom on Earth now. The Lord so profoundly interrupted Moses’ life and his expectations back in college when that woman prophesied over him, and He has continued to interrupt him since. Through Moses’ life, we can see that true obedience to the Lord is coming to an understanding of our identities as His children and walking in freedom in that. Allow God to interrupt your life and your expectations, for the Lord truly desires to bless you with an abundant life.