When my son’s junior high Small Group expressed a desire to serve, it was suggested they begin with a Brookside Road Trip. I had heard a lot about Brookside over the years and wanted to see it firsthand, so my youngest son and I decided to join the trip as well. What we experienced was far from an information meeting—it was a Spirit-led journey and a testimony of God’s work through his people. We came expecting simply to gather knowledge but left deeply encouraged and awe-inspired.
From the moment we walked through the door of The Oaks Academy, we were greeted warmly by those who have invested their lives into this special place. We were welcomed with such kindness and there was a distinct aroma of Christ throughout the school. The leaders served us breakfast and shared their vision for the five pillars that make a community strong: Safe and affordable housing, strong educational choices, opportunities for economic development, Jesus-centered churches, and a culture of place and relationship. After breakfast, we climbed into vans and were taken to see this vision becoming reality.
Our bus tour took us to Covenant Community Housing, Heart Change, Purposeful Design, a local church, and the home of Dale Shaw. At each stop, we were able to hear the testimonies of those being the hands and feet of Jesus in these foundational places. We were inspired all day by stories of hope, healing, restoration, and redemption. While we could have gone to each location, heard the information, and left, we didn’t. After each stop, we were gathered around our brothers and sisters and prayed over them and their work in the community. It was a powerful demonstration of the Holy Spirit among us and the unity we have in the body of Christ.
One of our final stops was the living room of Dale Shaw. We gathered together to enjoy cookies prepared by his wife and to praise God through song. I was humbled by the opportunity to witness Dale’s ministry up close.
As we wrapped up our time together, we shared a meal and reflected on all we had seen and heard. Each stop made it even more evident that the Holy Spirit is present, and every relationship we have is an opportunity to share the gospel. These stories of life transformation can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. A person can only go from being homeless outside of a building in Indianapolis, to being the designer of beautiful artwork displayed in that same building by the grace of God. This testimony from Purposeful Design and the testimonies of others proved the powerful hand of God at work in our city.
During our time of reflection, I glanced over to read my youngest son’s takeaway. He wrote, “When there is brokenness, God is on the move.” Yes, indeed, God is on the move in Brookside and the aroma of Christ is evident among his people. To God be the glory.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:14-15).