The Shiloh Project
To give a short background as to where the Shiloh Project originated let me take a moment to briefly tell you about what God has been doing the last year of my life. This time last year, I was working at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as a Food Scientist and Quality Manager over a laboratory that is a part of an international hygienic engineering design network that consists of only 6 labs in the entire world, with mine being the only one in North America. While I was grateful for the Lord’s provision through that job, I desired and longed for the opportunity to be a part of the community Josh and I had recently moved to and began ministry in.
My transition to working and living in Roane County was about more than just working close to home. It was about Josh and I being convinced that this community is where the Lord wanted to us both for the advance of His Kingdom and that we were to do it through South Harriman Baptist Church.
My search for potential jobs in this community came to an abrupt halt due to the lack of Food Science positions here, and I felt like I was simply going to have to just make it work somehow - there didn’t seem to be anything that I could be good at or interested in anytime soon.
In July of 2015, Kendra Inman gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in working part time at Midtown assisting the literacy program at the school and I eagerly said, “YES!!!” I was more than ready to do something that would bring joy to my life again where I could invest in the people of my community. Little did Kendra know that her job offer was the answer to a prayer I had desperately pleaded with the Lord to answer for over a year. Man, am I grateful for her and for the Lord’s provision!
I eventually took a full time position as the math interventionist for our school’s RTI program. I was honored and more than excited to take the position and before I knew it, I was in a completely different role at Midtown doing completely different things and seeing the kids through a whole new perspective.
The children that come to me for math intervention are students that are more than a year and a half behind in math. I work with them in small groups to fill in the academic gaps that are causing them to be behind in the classroom. After settling into the routine of how, when, and where I was supposed to be servicing these children my heart soon was incredibly heavy with compassion and a deep desire to love them and care for them in ways that extend beyond just school education.
The majority of the students that I see on a day to day basis are struggling in math because of their home environment being unstable, unsupportive, or simply just neglecting them when they need attention the most.These are the fundamental years of elementary school where children build confidence and esteem academically, mentally, and socially. Many times I have had children breakdown in tears and ask if they could come live with me because they didn’t want to go home to the insecurity and tension that would be there waiting for them. Never have I seen children tear up when I ask them if they are excited for summer, until I got to know the children that I service through math at Midtown. I knew that there was something to be done and I knew that if the Lord was behind it, our congregation would be used to make it happen because no child should ever fear going home because of the stress that comes with the home environment itself.
On our way home one day from church, I asked Josh, “What do you think would happen if we simply opened our church doors for a handful of hours each week and invited kids to come play?” That is when the conversation got going and my heart was able to dream up the idea of the Shiloh Project. After praying about it for months, I spoke with Kayla Wadlington and Casey Clark (both members of SHBC and teachers at Midtown). They began praying with me over the stages of planning and execution of the whole idea, for them I am grateful to God again for surrounding me with believers that trust in and are convicted by God’s call for us to reach those around us.
I decided to name it the Shiloh Project (SP) because of our desire for it to be a life changing and meaningful effort that our congregation puts forward attempting to establish our church as the place of rest in the community. We want our church to be a place where kids would be allowed and encouraged to thrive and make lasting relationships with our church members. We want to be able to reassure, support, invest in, and cheer for these kids who need it the most over the summers (when they have the least support).
God has been faithful and I have been tremendously encouraged with the numbers of people that are jumping on board with the Shiloh Project for summer 2016! There are many great ideas we have to try and incorporate in the program this summer including: Sunday School classrooms visiting for lunch Bible studies in small groups, outdoor games, crafts, music, etiquette and manners being taught, math and reading centers in small groups as well as many other incredible ideas! I truly cannot express how grateful I am to be working in the same community that Josh and I are able to partner with the church in ministry and I know that God has placed each and every one of us here at South Harriman for a very special reason. I am excited to see our congregation come together to use the variety of talents and the uniform heart we have as a church to see the Kingdom advance among our younger generation here in Harriman.
I really hope that you will consider being a part of the Shiloh Project this summer. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns, or comments as I am happy to answer them as best I can with anything you might want to discuss. I encourage you find out more and to also prayerfully considering investing in the lives of these children and in our church’s desire to fulfill God’s call for our participation in outreach for His glory!
Serving The King and His Kingdom,
Rachel S. Lynn