Just Show Up!
When it comes to doing outreach projects with teams a lot can go right… and wrong. After doing team-oriented outreaches for decades now I realize a lot can go haywire when you step out to serve the community with a number of people. Today I was scheduled to go out with a number of folks. We are approaching the end of the year so people are a bit busier than usual. However today we had a number who were to have been present at this outing no matter what. When all things came together we had a grand total of just me and another guy present. Two of us! We made a last minute adjustment to our focus and we went out just the same.
All went well in spite of the low numbers. We spoke with a number of interesting people who were out in the retail areas of town. It seemed a good time was had by all. All and all we made progress today.
When times are down a bit it is still time to go out and make connections. No matter what, today is the day for us to connect with the community. God will show up day after day as long as we show up.
I suppose that small things done with few people can change the world as well. . For me, I am trying to make serving a part of my life. I like to go and do outreach but that signifies an event. It starts and then it ends and then it’s over. I find that I am left wanting more.
Thanks for reminding us that we can still reach people with whatever we have.
Though we don’t know each other we do share a history. The first time I stepped into that little church on the corner of Crescentville and Chesterdale Rd in Ohio, I knew I was home. Prior to my visit, I had never experienced the Spirit of God the way in which He moved within the 4 walls of that building. It was the total experience that touched me so. It was a balance of meeting the needs of the community as well as the Body of Christ.
Servant Evangelism – I would tell my family and friends the examples of community outreach our church would do. The Good Samaritan Run to feed the homeless, the services of washing cars, handing out cokes and gift wrapping at the mall, all of no charge, seemed to be acceptable forms of outreach to them. I have to giggle, though. When it came to the other forms of outreach, they would roll their eyes. After all, they were a little more unorthodox, like handing out light bulbs or batteries for in home fire alarms or feeding quarters into parking meters in the downtown area. Oh, yeah! That just happened to be one of those outreach projects, done with good intent, that went haywire. Who knew it was illegal to drop a quarter into a meter without being the owner of the car. And of course, there was the infamous act of cleaning public restrooms. There was no business too sinful or toilet too dirty for us.
Then there were the outreach programs that even left other Christians scratching their heads in wonder. Like renting a booth at the psychic fair or offering cokes and compassion to those entering and exiting the abortion clinics, while protesters stood silently with their signs or spewed words of condemnation. These acts of kindness reminds me of the event that took place when Jesus was being arrested. When Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword, there was to be no more of that. Then Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed it. I am not a proponent of abortion or occult practices, but how are others to hear the love of Jesus Christ or the power He possesses to heal their brokenness if we, His ambassadors, keep cutting off their ears. Our outreach programs to the community, as quirky as some of them seemed, spoke volumes of God’s love without having to say a word.
Serving the Body of Christ- The casual atmosphere of dress, warm cups of coffee, sincerity of the greeters and Saturday services were all very appealing to me. Even the lighthearted peculiarity of reading tidbits from the National Enquirer from time to time became endearing, but that’s not what kept me returning. The church became a sanctuary for me and apparently others who had been spiritually beaten, battered and disillusioned by well meaning Christians from other denominations.
I have been to churches that had wonderful teachings and studies on the Word of God. Without them I would have been spiritually ignorant to God’s truths. But I noticed, outside of the weekly sermons and midweek Bible studies, the members had to turn to the world’s experts, if you will, for help with their needs and spiritual conditions. If the Church can’t deal with the physical needs and sin issues their members are suffering with, then we have no business converting others to Jesus only to abandon them, leaving them to feel ashamed and fearful of being judged, shunned or condemned if they were to confess. It was the wisdom of God and your openness that led our church to see this need within the community of believers to offer ongoing classes and sessions to bring hope and healing for their spiritual ilks and Mercy Works for their physical needs.
Some of the most powerful encounters with God took place during worship services. As in the past, I expected the old time hymns, accompanied by a piano or organ, to be sung by a congregation that appeared bored and void of joy. Boy, was I ever wrong. So amazed by the freshness of this form of worship, I have to admit, that in the beginning, I was more of an observer of the worship service than a partaker of it. I always wondered why there was more expressed emotion over a sports event or at a rock concert than in church. Well, there it was and I was witnessing it for the first time, men and women of God praising, clapping, smiling and weeping all because of Jesus – kind of like when King David and all of Israel rejoiced before the Lord when they entered the City of David with the Ark of the Covenant.
Aware of your apostolic gift of church planting, I knew the day would come when you would entrust the leadership of the church into the hands of one whose love for the Lord and commitment for the church were priority one. Thank you for anointing Dave.
As I’m sure you know, Dave’s vision of The Luke 4 Challenge has come to fruition and is thriving. About the same time God planted the vision in Dave’s heart, I entered the ground level of an experimental team to pray for the guests that came to Mercy Works. I think I was as equally blessed to pray for our guests as they were to be prayed for by the team. I had the privilege to lead several to the Lord and witnessed their spiritual birthing into His Kingdom. The prayer team afforded me the ability to develop a personal relationship with 2 of its members and to befriend a homeless woman who is now one of my closest friends. Wow! Talk about the moving of the Holy Spirit.
By the time the Healing Center opened, my health and that of my mother’s took a turn for the worse, so I had to take a sabbatical. It has been 2 years since I have prayed on the team and can no longer attend service due to chronic health issues. However, when asked what Church do I attend I respond, “The Vineyard.” It will always be my home.
God’s blessings to you, Steve.
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