Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Least of These...

Recently I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know some churchplanters in downtown Tacoma.  They're a young couple around my age who brought another lady about the same age with them when they moved down from Snoqualmie to work with the inner city population.  Now they all live in the heart of one of the most dangerous areas of Tac-town along with a young high school girl and their newborn twins.  Their "church" began with feeding hot dogs to the people who played ball at the park on Friday afternoons.  They've spent months cultivating relationships, witnessing, and building community.

I've had the pleasure to share a meal with them a couple of times, and hearing their stories about the needs they see and are trying to meet is overwhelming...every time.  Bobby, Kelli, and Becca all come from the same background I do: small Christian college that teaches Southern Baptist church planting strategy.  And we've been blessed to see and learn how God has moved in that way.  But what I keep hearing Bobby say is that there's no book for the task he's been given.  I, myself, as I look back over my years of being in church and hearing of hundreds of mission opportunities and organizations, have no personal frame of reference for his ministry.  How does one go about trying to help rehabilitate a 40-year-old homeless man who's mind and body have been ravaged by years of drug use and who has no ability to read or write?  What does discipleship look like in this setting? 

In church planting, after integrating within and mapping out a people group, you hope to envision what a church among those people would look like.  Then you identify leaders and train them up to make it happen.  Who are the leaders?  What do they look like?  Bobby says the church he's envisioned for those people has changed shape in his mind and heart about 5 times since he's started.  He's clearly a man with big faith that expects and waits on God to move and speak.  It's a blessing to know them and get to see their ministry.

Now what about me?  I'm left with that question.  There are needs in my neighborhood: some physical, some emotional, all of them spiritual.  When I stop to think about it, I'm immediately overwhelmed and paralyzed.  But I know God is bigger than those needs.  He is.

Sunday, one of the thing's Jon talked about was after the feeding of the 5,000 when the people realized Jesus could seriously meet needs.  In John 6 they wanted to make Him king because clearly, if He could meet that one, He could probably take care of all of their needs.  So as One Who held answers, they asked, "What do we do to do the works of God?"  His response was this: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."  

I was shocked!  THAT was my rate-limiting step?!  They were asking my question: so what do I DO?  His answer was: BELIEVE in ME.  He asks me (and you) to believe He IS Who He says He is.  He's the Almighty God of all that is.  He is I AM.  He knows the needs.  They're probably even greater than we know.  He wants them met more than we can imagine.  He plans to use us to meet them.  So we must believe and listen.   There's a tangible and an intangible response to this lesson.  The tangible is the looking for and the saying "yes" when you are given an opportunity.  The intangible is the praying, the trusting, and the asking of God to make our hearts and eyes like His.  He's doing it in me, slowly but surely.  I dare you to join me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sabbatical...kind of

I didn't plan on it. I just kept not-posting. I wasn't super-motivated by anything where I felt I needed to share. One thing I've picked up over the past couple of months is that if I have someone I trust that is available day-to-day, my extrovertive outpour is content to relay little life happenings to them. I don't need to tweet, blog, or facebook as much. Living alone has pushed me towards a yearning for community that can render me slightly electronically obnoxious. And I know that. But a ENTP's gotta go somewhere with it, so you'll have to learn to deal. I'm choosing to allow myself grace in that space right now. I'll check back in on that one later.

Since I last posted, both Natalie and Jen, two of my oldest and dearest friends have come to visit. Nat brought her fun and hilarious husband Brad and their beautiful 2-year-old daughter Dakota. I only got to see them one night, but it was great having them around. Nat's pregnant with their second, so it may be a bit before they get to travel like that again from Memphis.

Jen is a friend that was in my group of freshmen when I was an orientation counselor at Union my junior year. That was my last year at UU, but we somehow managed to forge a serious bond that's kept on until now. She's seen me through so much. It amazes me we're still friends when I think about some of what we've overcome together. I was so blessed to spend time with her, gush about life and theories, and know I was safe to be myself without fear of conditional acceptance.

I've been and continue to be BLESSED. This return post ended up quite the cheesy dedication, but if you're faulting me for gratitude, I'm gonna say that's your own problem. Read Jonathan Acuff if you need a blogger with more entertainment factor. ;) There have been quite a few lessons learned in my silence (limited to my blog, of course-my silence). I'll throw out some of them soon.

This was for you, Nat. As you requested, sister...

- Posted on the go...