echo ''; Skip to main content

Christians say they believe the world will know we are disciples by our love for one another, but what happens when people get too close? Stories of secrets revealed and childhood ghosts returned to haunt us.



#5: Where the Gospel Meets Community

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

JESSE EUBANKS: What is the reality TV show that really kicked off the phenomenon known as reality TV? 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Oh man. Survivor! You know that’s on season 35?

JESSE EUBANKS: And you think that’s the one that kicked it all off?



LACHLAN COFFEY: Well, Real World really kicked it off.

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s right, The Real World! Did you watch The Real World?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I saw episodes, but it was too risque for me.

JESSE EUBANKS: Really? Is that true?

LACHLAN COFFEY: I was a kid that grew up, you weren’t allowed to watch Simpsons and Married With Children. So Real World, definitely off limits. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, in 1992, there’s this brand new TV show that comes on and it’s called The Real World and it was on MTV and like, immediately, I was taken with this premise, this idea of all these strangers from all over the country moving into one household, living together, and the tape rolling, and just seeing what was going to happen. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Yeah, and reality TV is legendary for putting [together] different demographics, different interests, different people with different likes and dislikes and passions and talents. And they just stir the pot. They love stirring the pot to see what conflict will emerge. And it’s amazing how quick that conflict emerges. 


JESSE EUBANKS: You’re listening to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. Every episode we hear stories of social justice and Christian community. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Today’s episode – where the gospel meets community. I’m here today with my friend Lachlan because we have been friends for many years.

LACHLAN COFFEY: This is true, and just based on that alone, this means that we have had a good deal of conflict.

JESSE EUBANKS: So our stories today are going to be about that. They’re going to be about the conflict that arises between us as Christians and in community. We’re going to take you behind the scenes into the homes of some of our Love Thy Neighborhood team members. Now these folks have moved from all over the country to live in community with one another. And just like the reality TV show The Real World, we’re going to find out what happens when Christians stop being polite and start getting real. Welcome to our corner of the urban universe.


JESSE EUBANKS: So there was an article that came out in the Gospel Coalition last month and it revealed the number one reason that missionaries leave the field. What do you think the number one reason is that missionaries leave the field?

LACHLAN COFFEY: All indications of this conversation is that it’s conflict. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, it’s totally conflict. But it’s not just conflict with anybody. So it’s not persecution, it’s not financial conflict, it’s not even logistics related to the mission work that they’re doing. It’s conflict with other Christians. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Which is absolutely in direct contrast to what Christ has called us to. You might remember in John 17, Jesus gathers his disciples and he’s giving his final words and he prays what we call “the high priestly prayer.” He prays this, that they, his followers, may all be one. Why? ‘So that the world may believe that you have sent me.’

JESSE EUBANKS: The way that the world is going to believe in Jesus is by the unity that Christians have with one another. So what’s the problem? Why are so many Christians failing to get along? 

ZACH BRADLEY: One of the biggest dynamics in missions that we’re blinded to is how pragmatic it is.

JESSE EUBANKS: This is Zach Bradley. Zach has worked in missions since graduating college. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: And when he says pragmatic, he means taking the things that he believes and actually putting them into practice, putting them into action. It’s all about action.

ZACH BRADLEY: Get out there and share the Gospel, get out there and make things happen. And there’s so much of that that is true and important, but at the same time, if it’s just purely pragmatism, it leaves the soul quite empty.

JESSE EUBANKS: Zach believes the hard work of missions and the living in community with other Christians are intertwined. You can’t do one without the other. But he didn’t always think this way. When he spent two years serving with missionaries in Africa, he had a different mindset. And that was to be the next Apostle Paul. 

ZACH BRADLEY: And my definition of the Apostle Paul at that point was that he was a lone ranger who spun all over the world doing whatever he wanted. And I wanna be able to just jump from country to country and share the Gospel and be persecuted and be this Navy SEAL Christian that people will marvel over for years to come when they read books about me and all that stuff. 

JESSE EUBANKS: A pretty noble ambition. So you can imagine Zach’s surprise when the missionaries that he had been working with told him…

ZACH BRADLEY: ‘We’re not going to be focused pragmatically on going out and sharing the Gospel and that’s it.’ But this missionary also said ‘we’re going to invest in one another, we’re going to do life together, we’re going to meet regularly for worship and for praying for one another, and we’re going to make decisions together as a team rather than individually.’

JESSE EUBANKS: In other words, spend just as much, if not more, time and energy with his fellow missionaries and getting to know them as he did in going out to the villages and sharing the Gospel. And he thought this approach completely missed the point. 

ZACH BRADLEY: This is invasive, and it seems to be a distraction from what’s best. And so to think about taking time to invest in my teammate who was very different from me and taking time to let people speak into my life felt like a bit of a waste. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And Zach’s experience is not uncommon. We get in Christian community and it turns out to be nothing like we expected. People don’t reach out to us, or they reach out too much and get all up in our business. And when we get frustrated when people aren’t like us, we don’t know what to do.

ZACH BRADLEY: Man, I tell you what, when we first got to the field, there were days that I wanted to kill him. ‘I’m so frustrated with you that I can’t even be in the same room.’ What do Christians do with that? We don’t know, other than to stuff it down or to get really upset and part ways.

JESSE EUBANKS: Which is why so many missionaries are leaving the field over conflict. Now thankfully Zach did not leave Africa. He stuck it out with his team and came away a pretty big advocate for investing in Christian community.

ZACH BRADLEY: Missions is more than just what God wants to do through you. It’s also what he wants to do in you. What I learned most was that I need God and I need others.

LACHLAN COFFEY: One of the reasons that we are so uncomfortable with Christian community is because it exposes us. Sometimes we think as Christians that we’re somehow exempt to how life has affected us. And it’s true, we are a new creation in Christ. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have junk in our past that we need to deal with. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Do you know who’s really good at figuring out what’s on the inside of people? Reality television show producers. You know, when somebody goes to be on a reality television show, they go through tons of questionnaires, they go through tons of interviews, and the producers are going back through their family history, their parent history, their relationship history, their sibling history, their legal history. They’re tracing the story of this person’s life so that they can truly understand them. But what happens when we get in community? That stuff all comes to the surface. Which is exactly what happened to a guy named Aaron Adkins.

AARON ADKINS: Everything that was repeated in my childhood memory, that was starting to replay in my head. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Aaron came to serve for a year with Love Thy Neighborhood. At Love Thy Neighborhood, we offer social justice internships supported by Christian community. Aaron wanted to use his gifts of graphic design and kids’ ministry to make an impact for the Gospel. And during his year, he found out that he would be living with two other teammates. 

AARON ADKINS: I was excited to live with them because I like living with people and just excited because you get to hang out with people that you’re also going to be serving with.

JESSE EUBANKS: Becoming best friends with the folks you live with and also doing ministry with? What could be better? But what Aaron wasn’t expecting was having to relive his childhood. 

AARON ADKINS: The first day we met, we talked about bunk beds. 

AARON’S ROOMMATE: We argued a bunk bed for almost an hour, about whether we should have a bunk bed in our room.

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s one of Aaron’s roommates. They’ve just moved into the apartment they were sharing, and someone brings up the idea of getting a bunk bed for the bedroom to save space. Both his teammates say yes, but Aaron says no.

AARON ADKINS: It was more of a joke at first, but then I really just did not want a bunk bed in the bedroom and just thought that would not be great.

JESSE EUBANKS: And for some reason, Aaron can’t let it go. His roommates continue to argue.

AARON’S ROOMMATE: It was like so much tension, but we were like all trying to suppress it. Plus my parents were there too.

AARON’S OTHER ROOMMATE: Their first impression is that these guys are going to argue the whole year. 

AARON’S ROOMMATE: Eight people talking about a bunk bed, talking about having this problem.

AARON’S OTHER ROOMMATE: Even though it wasn’t necessarily a problem. 

AARON ADKINS: You guys made it a problem.

AARON’S ROOMMATE (mockingly): Well, everything’s a problem to you, Aaron. 

AARON ADKINS: What, no. They always do this, they always put it all on me.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Hold up for a second, Jesse. How much longer are we doing this thing? Because I feel uncomfortable, I wonder if the listeners feel uncomfortable. But this feels like a very tense situation that I do not want to put myself in. 

JESSE EUBANKS: I know, because we hate conflict. For some of us, it just makes us so uncomfortable when conflict happens. But here’s the thing, is that while for some of us when this kind of arguing is going on we want to retreat, for Aaron this kind of fighting was actually his normal. 

AARON ADKINS: I overreact and I’m pretty loud, like it’s just passionate. Like I’m trying to really fix whatever’s going on and I’m really just aggressive with like how I’m coming off. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And this became a common theme in their relationship. And the constant arguing, it was hurting his team’s ministry opportunities.

AARON ADKINS: But it shuts down the door to like, ‘Okay, well now we’re not in ministry mode anymore. We’re not going to try to reach out to our neighbors right now. We need to fix this problem.’

LACHLAN COFFEY: How often do we hear a young person say, ‘When I start college, it’s going to be a fresh start,’ or ‘When I date so-and-so, it’s going to be a fresh start,’ or ‘When I go onto the mission field, fresh start’? But in reality, we need to be cognizant of the patterns that started long before college or mission field. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, the truth is this. We all learned how to relate to other people from somewhere, and there’s nowhere to escape the fact that the way I relate is the way that I relate. And when we come back, we’re going to learn where Aaron, myself, and where every single one of our listeners learned it. We’ll be right back. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome back to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. And today’s episode – where the gospel meets community.

JESSE EUBANKS: Right now we’re hearing from Aaron. Aaron is doing a social justice internship through Love Thy Neighborhood. Aaron’s moved here, he’s living in community with two other guys and right now it’s not exactly an ideal picture of Christian community. And when relationships are off, our ministry is off. So how do we experience real Christian community, the kind that Jesus says will tell the world that we belong to him? Well, it starts with our relational patterns. To explore this, Aaron agreed to sit down with us and share some about his life.

AARON ADKINS: I was bullied a lot, like I was in many fights. Some fights, it’s like I’m not really in the fight, it’s more like I was just hit and like beat. I didn’t see the point in talking about it at home, so it was just– because it felt like it was going to be my fault that I was hurt. I just felt weak and I just felt like there was no point in trying to explain.

JESSE EUBANKS: Aaron was bullied at school, but home didn’t feel much safer to him either. 

AARON ADKINS: Home was just a place where you could get hurt. Sometimes people throw things or you get hit or you get smacked in the head, and it’s like ‘dang, you actually just hit me and you’re still yelling at me and you’re getting mad that I’m crying or upset or angry.’ There was no winning and like no way out.

JESSE EUBANKS: Over and over the message that Aaron received growing up was this: You’re weak and you’re wrong. 

AARON ADKINS: I didn’t have a voice growing up. I felt like if we disagreed with something, we’d get yelled at for how we were wrong. No one wants to continue to be wrong, like they want to be right in some regard.

JESSE EUBANKS: And the way Aaron tried to be right was to be aggressive. 

AARON ADKINS: When I would stand up for myself at home or like at school, I could match the energy or like just yell louder. Like just yell louder, just hit harder, and that’s how you’ll get what you want. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So here’s this guy who growing up learned the way relationships work is to fight. And you put him in close quarters with other guys who learned different relational patterns, some of which was to be passive, some of which was to be aggressive, some of which was to manipulate. You put ‘em in a room, and what do you get? What you get is that scene we heard earlier: three grown men spending hours fighting over a bunk bed. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Which I would pay mad money to binge-watch this reality TV show, like an entire series of that. But this is a ministry and not a reality TV show. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, like Aaron is here to do ministry and like he doesn’t want to be known as the guy that fights with everybody. He acknowledges that he doesn’t want to do things the way that his family did. He doesn’t like his relational patterns.

AARON ADKINS: I don’t want to be seen as a negative person. That reminds me too much of my childhood.

LACHLAN COFFEY: But this stuff gets so ingrained in us at an early age. It’s stuff that we can’t run from, we can’t hide from. So the question becomes: so what?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well listen, the bottom line is this. The entire Great Commission is at risk because we are failing to realize that what we experienced as children is affecting the way that we relate to each other now. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: Where do we go from here?

JESSE EUBANKS: Well we can’t be loved without being known, and being known means being vulnerable, and vulnerability is risky, but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. We have to let folks in. And for Ifeoma, another Love Thy Neighborhood team member, the way she ended up letting folks in was not neat and it was not pretty. In fact, it was anything but that. Ifeoma also served for a year with Love Thy Neighborhood, and she lived with four other ladies during that year. 

IFEOMA: We were all from different states. We all came from different socioeconomic backgrounds. We all came from different ways that we became Christians. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And during their year together, there was the usual tension here and there. But eventually Ifeoma began to express some misunderstanding with the girls. She started thinking that she was different from them, which in some sense was true. She was the only African-American in her household. This posture of always feeling misunderstood started causing some tension in the house. And then, the day came in which the ladies fondly refer to as “the incident.”

LACHLAN COFFEY: I’m dying to understand what the incident is.

JESSE EUBANKS: Ifeoma was taking the bus on the way home from her service site. This is the place where Ifeoma did ministry for an entire year interning. She was later than usual leaving her site, and her bus, well, it was also running late. 

IFEOMA: I guess I wasn’t really communicating it well to my roommates that I was going to be late, so in my mind I was just like, ‘Oh my goodness.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Just being late wasn’t that big a deal. But the ladies all took turns cooking dinners each week. And it just so happened that tonight was Ifeoma’s night to cook, which meant that there were four hungry teammates waiting for her to get home. They were not happy, and neither was Ifeoma. She had had a long, hard day at her service site, and she was hoping for some empathy.

IFEOMA: So when I came home, I wanted to feel concerned for by my roommates, asking me like ‘I’m sorry you’re late.’

JESSE EUBANKS: But that’s not how her roommates responded. They ended up cooking dinner themselves because Ifeoma never told them where she was or when she would be getting home. They were pretty upset with her.

IFEOMA: And then my roommates who were expecting me, they wanted me to be like ‘Oh, I’m sorry I’m late’ and like thank them for what they’re doing, like started cooking for me. So you have people who are looking for affirmation in one another but are so caught up in their anger that they’re not going to give it. Like I’m not going to say ‘Oh, thank you for cooking for me’ when I felt like you don’t care about me because I’m late. You’re not going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m sorry you’re late’ when you think I don’t care about you because I’m late.

JESSE EUBANKS: And then, everything just exploded.

IFEOMA: That’s when kind of all hell broke loose. It turned into yelling. Lots of yelling, lots of inappropriate words.

JESSE EUBANKS: You know, they’re yelling the f word at each other, sentences like ‘don’t you call yourself one of my effing sisters in Christ because you’re not.’ So it’s this weird mixture of violence and Gospel sort of getting intertwined with each other.

IFEOMA: I was yelling because I was mad and I felt people did not care about me.

JESSE EUBANKS: For Ifeoma, she grew up in a family where yelling was a normal occurrence. So when a fight breaks out, she’s ready to put up her dukes and join in. But one of her teammates responds to conflict very differently.

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: Like the moment that people were frustrated that Ifeoma wasn’t home in time, my anxiety was already starting. 

JESSE EUBANKS: For this teammate, because of what she had experienced as a kid, when conflict arises, in her mind it means something terrible is about to happen, and her anxiety skyrockets. 

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: I just don’t want to be here for it. ‘I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be here. Breathe. Find a way to disappear almost.’ I remember at some point I was in the kitchen and I was almost hiding behind the fridge. My physical body was still present, but I emotionally didn’t want to be there.

JESSE EUBANKS: So she’s like off in the corner, you’ve got these two teammates screaming at each other, you’ve got one in the middle trying to break them up, and then another one is just like laying in the bed ignoring the whole thing. 

IFEOMA: It was a hot mess.

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: And my idea of safety was crumbling because they weren’t reacting the way I expected. It wasn’t safe. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Well eventually the one teammate can’t be in the environment anymore, she goes outside to escape, and the other girls follow.

IFEOMA: The girls that were involved ended up going outside for a little bit. 

JESSE EUBANKS: They went and sat on the front porch, one – to help themselves cool down, but two – to give Ifeoma some space to cool down as well.  

IFEOMA: And then I was like ‘Where are they at?’ So I ended up going downstairs to like creep on them and then I’m like ‘Oh, so they’re having a little powwow without me.’ That infuriated me because I’m like ‘Again, they don’t care about how I feel. They’re just going to comfort one another.’ You know, I was just kind of over it. I’m like ‘I don’t care anymore.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Ifeoma distanced herself from the whole thing.

IFEOMA: And the next day went to work like nothing happened. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: So, what happened?

JESSE EUBANKS: So, I’m the executive director. I get this phone call, and the phone call is to inform me that they had had this huge argument as a household and that Ifeoma had not come home the night before, that they were not speaking to one another. I began to reach out to different team members one by one. Some were pretending like nothing happened, some of them are pretending like it was World War III. I can’t get any kind of consensus, so I ask them all to come to a mandatory meeting at my office. 

IFEOMA: It was a time where everyone could kind of explain what happened.

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: A group of us were sitting down and I was just having to talk to myself about like, ‘You’re going to have to assert yourself. You’re going to have to say what actually happened. You’re going to have to go places that you don’t want to go.’ And I remember thinking like ‘Is it worth it?’ I really questioned Ifeoma, like ‘is she worth it?’

JESSE EUBANKS: So as we continued to give space for everybody to talk, suddenly Ifeoma shares something that no one was expecting. Stay with us.


JESSE EUBANKS: Welcome back to the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. I’m Jesse Eubanks. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: And I’m Lachlan Coffey. And today’s episode – where the gospel meets community. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So Ifeoma and her teammates have just had an explosive argument, I have called a mandatory meeting, and so far it is not going well. 

IFEOMA: I know that I was saying hurtful things to one teammate in particular. I was like ‘Can you forgive me?’ And she was like ‘I can’t forgive you right now.’ She said that.

JESSE EUBANKS: And Ifeoma’s body language is just as cold as can be, arms crossed, legs crossed, eyes staring at the ground. One person on the team looks at Ifeoma and goes ‘I don’t care how mad you are. You have to come home with us.’ We can fight and you can be as angry as you want to be, but come home and fight with us because your place is with us.’ Very quietly these tears start rolling down Ifeoma’s face and she starts trying to say something. It’s like she can’t get the words out, almost like she’s choking on them, and it’s like something is buried so deep inside of her that she can’t even quite access it. And she says these words, and it’s like this guttural cry. She ends up forcing these words out from inside of her, and she says the following. She says ‘I have no memories of ever being held as a child.’ And Ifeoma just weeps in front of us. 

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: It wasn’t until that moment when she let us in and let us actually see who she was and the ways that she really hurt, that was when we could actually love her. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And to this day, it was the greatest single moment as the director of the organization that I’ve ever personally been able to experience because where Ifeoma was before, the walls that she had built to protect herself were so profound and strong and doing their job of keeping her at a distance and I was able to witness the love of God just completely obliterate those walls as she let those ladies in. 

IFEOMA: You know, for the first time I really felt cared for by friends.

LACHLAN COFFEY: They gave her an anchor, the reminder from her Christian sisters [that] no matter what happens, you still have the anchor. That’s – you’re home with us. And when it all gets down to it, it’s all centered on Christ. We have that anchor of Christ. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And here’s the thing. When we say things like ‘that anchor is Christ,’ if we’re honest, a lot of times we mean that in a really abstract way, very much distinct from other people around us. The Scripture tells us that the people around us, other believers, they are the body of Christ. Which means that when other Christians love us and that when we love other Christians and other Christians let us into their lives and we let them into our lives, into those tender spots and those hard spots and the parts where we’re wounded and the parts where we’re struggling and the parts that we are still dreaming about life in, that is to let Christ in as well. And Ifeoma continued to let Christ in through these friendships. So the one roommate who had struggles with anxiety, the one that was retreating during the fight, well, she and Ifeoma ended up becoming such good friends that they ended up choosing to live together at the end of their time in the program. 

IFEOMA’S ROOMMATE: For one thing, like there’s your family, but then there’s like your family, like the people who choose to be your family, you’re not just born there. And it’s not perfect by any means. But I think, for her, we became that place. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And one of the other roommates, the one that Ifeoma fought with the most throughout the year, well, about a year after the program ended, that roommate ended up getting married. And guess who was standing by her side as her maid of honor?

IFEOMA: One of the girls who we were constantly butting heads, like I felt she talked down to me, she felt I was rude and didn’t care for her, we were so different, but I ended up being her maid of honor at her wedding. And that’s just like okay, no one would have guessed that I’m standing beside her on her wedding day. 

LACHLAN COFFEY: I always hear the phrase in reference to the church ‘the beautiful mess,’ and I’ve always loved that phrase because in reality that is what we are. If done right, it can point us to Jesus and we can become healthier Christians and can become better witnesses to the world if we deal with that beautiful mess. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I think that if we as Christians can actually get to the place where we look at conflict as a valuable thing instead of it being something that is bad for us, we look at it and go ‘No, conflict can be really good for us’ because it’s in conflict that change happens, it’s in conflict that we’re transformed, it’s in conflict that there’s opportunities for us to sacrifice for one another, to love one another. You know, love is woven of sacrifice, and that requires conflict. 

AARON ADKINS: If I get hit, I feel the urge to like hit back. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So Aaron’s learned that just because he’s done things a certain way for so many years, it doesn’t mean that he always has to make the same decision next time it comes around. So one evening, Aaron and his teammates are in the apartment and one of his teammates kicks him. It’s not hard, it’s not to be mean, just playfully, little bro bonding. But Aaron does not take it well.

AARON ADKINS: It was triggering things. It was just like ‘I am about to like snap.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Without knowing Aaron’s background, you would never know that this little action, that this little point of contact, it actually creates a pretty strong and automatic response in him. 

AARON ADKINS: If I really, really wanted to, like I could start a fight right now. And like he kicked me again, and I was like ‘Okay, really, stop’ and he was like ‘Well just get away from me’ and I was like ‘I’m not doing anything, like I’m just standing here.’

JESSE EUBANKS: Suddenly Aaron was becoming that kid again who was bullied at school and got bullied at home. And all of those experiences had told him ‘You don’t want to be weak? Then get bigger. Get louder. Get more aggressive.’

AARON ADKINS: I know they’re doing this for fun, but if I start, like I really will hurt you, like anything could happen, you know?

JESSE EUBANKS: But living in community had helped Aaron realize something: that getting louder and hitting harder to solve conflict, it had never really worked very well in his family and it didn’t really work very well for him either. 

AARON ADKINS: That was a turning point to like say that I wasn’t going to keep being aggressive or try to be bigger.

JESSE EUBANKS: And what could’ve turned into another fight for Aaron instead turned into a moment where he chose not to.

AARON ADKINS: I got kicked one more time, and I was like ‘Okay, okay, okay, okay. I’m just going to go to bed.’ 

JESSE EUBANKS: He laid on his bed and chose to work on keeping his cool instead. Slowly, Aaron is deconstructing his relational patterns and building new ones.

AARON ADKINS: I guess that was really neat to see that you didn’t have to get bigger to like prove a point.

JESSE EUBANKS: He and his roommates also were able to start a soccer league together for kids in the neighborhood where they live and a boys’ Bible study for kids that remind him a lot of himself when he was that age. 

AARON ADKINS: I want kids to have a good experience and know that that affects them into their adult life. I wanna help out as much as I can with their development. I would rather show them that people do care for them and that they have people that they can count on. 

JESSE EUBANKS: In the past, so much of Aaron’s life was based on mistrust. He didn’t know who he could trust. Could he trust his friends? Could he trust his family? Could he trust himself? But this new way of living, where he’s begun to experience genuine love and grace from other Christian brothers, that’s given him a place where he feels safe enough that he can trust. 

AARON ADKINS: God was placing me here for a lot of different reasons. I’ve been happy to serve, but I’ve also just gained a lot of spiritual growth since being here. Since being here, I see that God cares a lot more deeply than I ever could’ve imagined.


JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, Lachlan, when you were a young guy, if you had told people that you wanted to go into full-time ministry, where would they have told you you needed to go? 


JESSE EUBANKS: Absolutely. They would’ve told you seminary. So I was with this older pastor recently who was near retirement, and what he told me was this: he said that ‘when I was a young man, I told people that I wanted to go into ministry and the first thing that they did is they sent me off to seminary and they pumped me full of good doctrine,’ and he said that what they should’ve done was put me around a table and taught me to love the other people. So often what we want to believe is that if we just have good enough doctrine that we’re going to be able to go out and preach a great, grand, beautiful gospel, but the truth is that the gospel that we experience is the gospel that we preach. If we want to go out into the world and we want to be able to preach a full, robust gospel, a gospel that invites us to come to God as we are and not as we should be, well then that requires us to have friendships where we’re allowed to be as we are and not always as we should be. Because it’s only when we begin to experience grace in our relationships that we truly, deeply believe that maybe, just maybe, God’s grace is a real thing too. 


JESSE EUBANKS: To get more resources on this topic or to listen to past episodes of our podcast, you can visit our website at 


JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, consider this your official cliffhanger. This is our final episode for the summer, and we will be coming back to you in the fall with brand new episodes. We’ll be covering topics such as where the Gospel meets gentrification, refugees, mental illness. If you have appreciated these episodes and you enjoy listening to this podcast, we are looking for more financial support. You can help us out by going to We cannot produce these episodes without your generous donations. We want to thank everyone that has supported us so far. We hope that these stories have encouraged, inspired, and provoked you just as much as they do us. We wanna thank each of you for listening. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Special thank you to our interviewees for this episode — Zach Bradley, Aaron Adkins, and Ifeoma Nwachuku.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Our senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks.

JESSE EUBANKS: Our co-host today is the one and only Lachlan Coffey. Lachlan is doing fantastic work in podcasting over at Harbor Media with his partner-in-crime, Mike Cosper, who you heard back on our first episode. So definitely want to encourage all of our listeners to head over to and check out all of their podcasts.

LACHLAN COFFEY: Our producer, technical director, and editor is Rachel Szabo. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Additional editing by Anna Tran. Music for today’s episode comes from Lee Rosevere, Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, and Wooden Axle. Apply for your social justice internship supported by Christian community by visiting Serve for a summer or year. Grow in your faith and life skills. Which of these was a neighbor to the man in need? The one who showed mercy. Jesus tells us, ‘Go, and do likewise.’


This podcast is only made possible by generous donors like you!


The Number One Reason Missionaries Go Home
Family of Origin: 8 Family Systems
Escaping the Matrix: Relational Strategies

Reading List:
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Life in Community by Dustin Willis


This episode was produced and mixed by Rachel Szabo. Additional editing by Anna Tran. This episode was written by Rachel Szabo with Jesse Eubanks.

Senior Production by Jesse Eubanks.

Hosted by Jesse Eubanks and Lachlan Coffey.

Soundtrack music from Lee Rosevere, Blue Dot Sessions, Poddington Bear and Wooden Axle.

Thank you to our interviewees: Zach Bradley, Aaron Adkins, Ifeoma Nwachukwu and their LTN team members.

More from Lachlan Coffey at
More resources on Christian Community at