My name is John Eigege. I am a church planter from Nigeria working in Houston, Texas. Over the past three years, God has taken my family on a wild ride as we plant a church that connects Houston’s Midtown and Third Ward neighborhoods. These two neighborhoods, separated only by a highway, are polar opposites economically, socially and ethnically. Our church plant, Square Inch Houston, seeks to reconcile, renew, and restore all things through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God has definitely connected my heart with the collective heart of Youth Unlimited. The Serve experience is one that seeks to help youth join Christ in the renewal of all things. During Serve, this intense, catalytic, week long mission experience, youth gather in worship, grow in community and go out to join in Christ’s mission of restoration in our world.
Every year, my heart says a resounding yes to the privilege of being the speaker at the Houston Serve site. However, this year was a wee-bit challenging. Houston Serve 2014 fell smack-dab in the middle of the 2014 FIFA World Cup! Remember, I am from Nigeria. Any kind of football (or soccer, as it is called here) is a pretty big deal for me. Since it happens only once every four years, the World Cup is the Holy Grail of sports competitions for me.
In ways of poetic justice that only God is capable of, our theme for this year revolved around Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 is God’s trumpet call to his people to give up “lip-service”, and replace it with true worship and fast. In true worship and fast, we give up something good in order to gain something great! After my initial pity party, it became very evident that The World Cup would have to take the back seat this year. I would have to give up something good for something great.
When we give up something good for the greatness of God’s Kingdom, amazing things happen. At Serve, I saw youth from various churches pouring themselves out on behalf of the poor and oppressed. I saw high school students seeking righteousness through right relationships and justice through right actions. I saw host churches becoming catalysts for spiritual and physical revitalization in neighborhoods and the lives of individuals and families.
I saw young Christians, broken by guilt, shame, fear and inadequacy at the beginning of the week lay those burdens down at the foot of the cross. I saw the Holy Spirit work in them through worship, relationships and acts of service throughout Serve. By week’s end, I saw these same youth receive a new identity in Christ as powerful sons and daughters of King Jesus. They literally became repairers of broken walls,and restorers of street dwellings.
Our acts of service daily ended in worship, and our worship daily lead to acts of service. God used Serve as a catalyst to help us love him with all that we are and love our neighbors as ourselves. Through it all, God used Serve to fulfill his desire; to transform us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, into the image and likeness of his son, Jesus.
Right after Serve, my family and I made our scheduled move from Midtown into Houston’s Third Ward. We seek to be agents of transformation in our community. We seek to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We seek reconciliation, renewal and restoration of all facets of life through the gospel of Jesus Christ. For us, the Serve experience is an invaluable spark that keeps moving our vision and mission of restoration forward the remaining fifty-one weeks of the year. We are carrying the momentum of Serve with us as we learn to forever find our sense of purpose, our identity, and rest in Jesus Christ as his agents of transformation in this world.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, too him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”