Janna, a midwife at a local birthing center where a few of the babies in our community were born (including our little daughter, Ruby), made a sign of a cross and prayed a quick blessing over Derek and Christiana’s daughter, Anika, moments after she was born. Both the parents were deeply moved by this sincere act of love and care.
Over the course of the next year, Janna became close friends with Christiana and many of the other women in our community. Soon, it was Janna’s turn to get pregnant and embrace the sacred anticipation of new life and an expanding family.
A few months into her pregnancy, Janna’s husband broke relationship with her and their quickly developing child. She was crushed and struggled to see the baby’s pending arrival as a blessing. Feeling alone, abandoned, and heartbroken, our little tribe of Jesus apprentices began to surround her with love that she desperately needed during this vulnerable time.
Helping her find an apartment in our neighborhood, we moved Janna into our “home” just weeks before the baby was due. All the moms excitedly got her fully equipped with hand-me-downs and threw an incredible baby shower.
Committed to natural childbirth, Janna decided to have a homebirth in her apartment and asked Christiana (and another one of our community mates, Rebecca) to be in on the labor as doulas. After forty-three hours of hard labor, Janna gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Having not yet decided on a name, she temporarily called her new little companion “Turkey.”
Reflecting on the impact Janna’s blessing had made on her and Derek, Christiana asked if we could come over and pray a blessing over Janna and Turkey. Just twenty-four hours after the birth, our tribe filled her little apartment and prayed blessings over Janna and her precious little boy.
With tears filling her eyes, Janna looked down at her son and said, “This is the village I have been telling you about.”
We were no longer just Janna’s friends: we had become her village, her community.
When she said these words, I was stirred to tears. This was what it is all about. This was the way God had created his community to function. God’s dreams for his people were being made real in this small apartment in Golden Hill. It truly was a thin place.
Two of my closest friends have followed (from afar) the life we now live as part of NieuCommunities. They have offered endless support, but they have also asked the hard questions that have led me to deeper conviction in our calling to live in missional community. Within the course of the same week, they each separately said, “The ministry you’re in and the life you’re living give me hope that my ideals for the Church can become reality.”
My response was brief: “Please know that they can be.”
Life on mission in the context of intentional community is not a far out ideal: it is a reality waiting for others to step into. Consider joining me. Consider joining us in the global movement that is seeking to faithfully tell God’s story.
We wrote Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community with the hope of sparking the imagination and practice of individuals and communities who desire to better live, love and lead as apprentices of Jesus. These postures and the stories that fill them out aren’t concrete, sure-fire steps to a vibrant life as a missional community. Instead, they are simply field notes from our humble attempts at living out the mission of God in the context of covenant community. It is messy, it is discouraging, but it is beautiful and I really, really think it is worth a shot.
Jon Huckins is on staff with NieuCommunities, a collective of missional communities who foster leadership and community development. He also co-founded The Global Immersion Project which cultivates difference makers through immersion in global narratives. Jon has a Master’s degree from Fuller Seminary and writes for numerous publications including, theOOZE, Burnside Writer’s Collective & Red Letter Christians. He has written two books: Thin Places: Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community (Beacon Hill) and Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling (Zondervan). He lives in San Diego with his wife Jan, daughter Ruby. Jon blogs here:http://jonhuckins.net/. You can also follow Jon on Twitter and Facebook.