Rodney + Cindy LaFrance: Accosted by God
by Jess Luoma
Early in their walk with God, Rodney and Cindy LaFrance were confronted with a compelling question posed in a sermon-- are you called by God or are you accosted by God?
The difference is: being called will always be true of the believer, He always calls His children toward Himself and the purposes He has for them whether they have yet recognized that or not. But, being accosted, or approached boldly or aggressively, by God, is what happens when you've surrendered to that call and when nothing can disrupt the purposes He sets out to accomplish in your life. Rodney and Cindy have been accosted by God. Accosted to serve the poor, to become family to the addict, to care for the widow, and to move to the rhythm of Jesus' heart.
"Jesus worked with the poor and the underdog and he told us to do the same. That's where we find Him. We [the church] can have all our celebrations but if we really want to find Christ, we'll find Him in the streets. That's where He is. He says, 'hey, I'm here, I'm over here.'" -Rodney & Cindy LaFrance
Before settling in Redding, CA in 2015, the LaFrance's lived among those they served in a poor community in Costa Rica. Over the years, they built a Mission House, planted a church, befriended the addicted, and built houses for those living in extreme poverty. With the help of the local community and traveling missionaries, homes were built within a few days for women like Sandra who had five children living in a one-bedroom tin shack. A shack that would certainly fail any building codes in California. When they saw a need, they met it-- and quickly.
When they said goodbye to Costa Rica and moved to Redding, they saw the many people living without homes on our street and began to build friendships with them.
"I thought because of the work we had done in Costa Rica, it would be easy here. But it's a completely different ball game. In Costa Rica, they were extremely poor [but had shelter]. But here, it's the unsheltered we are working with," reflects Cindy.
Cindy touches on an important point that finds its distinction in the way the Latino community and the American culture handle poverty and childhood trauma. In Latino communities, an addict will not suffer alone and even the poorest of the poor will still find themself in some form of permanent shelter. In American communities, the addict, the mentally ill, the traumatized, and the "couldn't-quite-make-it", often find themselves outcasted, struggling alone and without a permanent shelter. There are also many more barriers here to finding permanent shelter than there are in Costa Rica.
As Rodney and Cindy began to understand this difference, they realized they could take their knowledge of building homes and communities and join the efforts of Shasta Thrive to build Micro-Shelter Communities (MSCs) in Redding. Rodney has been instrumental in designing the first local MSC project, Goodwater Crossing, at St. James Lutheran Church.
The pair have spent countless hours spending time with the friends they have made on the streets and in encampments in Redding. They've spent time listening to their stories and sitting in their pain. They've spent time looking toward the future together. They've shared meals. They've given rides. They've opened their hearts toward these friends and as they have they have loved Christ Himself.
Rodney sheds light on what keeps him grounded in this work, "It could easily be me out there. I have to remember that it could easily be me and that it is my brother."
He hopes that the Church will begin to wake up to this need and re-center itself around what they've lost sight of. He hopes to see the Church begin to pursue the things Christ asked us to care about.
"The Church can set the example of what the rest of humanity needs to do for each other." -Rodney LaFrance
So how can the Church become accosted by God? How can you become accosted by God? What do you need to let go of in order to gain what God wants to accomplish through your life? What if you didn't need to know what He was going to ask of you and instead you believed that His heart for the poor and for you will always be good. He gave us this Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourselves. It's time. Go love.