Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

Leadership training

I sat on the sofa beside a man and his wife sat in the chair nearby. The house was very small, and they had their own children as well as three others, whose parents are working in Spain. The children were busy at the very sophisticated task of being their age, while I talked with this couple, their struggles, and the plans that God has for them. I shared with them that I was certain that God had plans for their life. They were interested, even excited to be a part of what God has for them.

They had invited their neighbors, and no one came. This is typical for us. I have learned that we have to be patient and establish a friendship with the people. I asked them who they expected to be a part of the study. They gave me the list of names, including a young man age 15 who was seated in front of a video game in the same room. I began to ask for ages, and found that many were adolescents. I told them that it would be very difficult to work with adults and have adolescents present. It would be equally difficult to work with adolescents and have adults there. Neither group would feel the freedom to share freely about their struggles, and how the Word applies to their life. I also found that most have small children that they are responsible for, which means that we would need to find a way to care for the children as well.

We planned to pass out invitations, serve juice, popcorn and yes yes (cheap cheese curls).
the couple told me that if we serve them anything at all to eat, that we could have a record crowd.

If this does not start a small group, I will ask them what they think about showing the Jesus film in their patio. Maybe, we will need to cast the net wide in order to have the adults to work with the children. It may be that there is another GCC couple in the area that would be interested in helping us. There is a church within walking distance from their help, but I know nothing about the church, and like everyone else, tend to be skeptical of things that I don't know. I am not sure that they would be interested in joining us in the work. If they are, I am not convinced that they would not want to control the work, and make it another outreach of their church. The last thing that I want is for them to join an existing church. My goal would not be accomplished, if I want to start a church there.

We are often busy building our own kingdom in Jesus' name. Bigger churches are not necessarily bad, unless you have a goal of starting small ones. If I want to train a church planter with my disciples, I need to involve them in planting churches. Their being members of an existing church would likely short-circuit the process.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

 

Power of presence

While in New Orleans I learned the value of being there. One preacher asked a gang leader why the kids were turning to the gangs in the streets instead of the churches. He replied, it's all about being there. When little Johnny comes home from school with a black eye, and his parents are too occupied to care, he wants to tell someone. I am there, said the gang leader. You are not. When he comes home with good grades on his grade card, and wants to share the excitement, I am there. You are not. When his family is evicted from their home, and need to move, I know about it because I am there. You are not. The conversation went on for some time, and the gang leader talked about how the church folk stay safe behind their walls with a false sense of security, blinded to the immense need around them (us).

God has called each of us to be there. He has called us to be present in the life of the people around us. For me, this is a great tension. When I am with my family, I feel the pressures of needing to visit, or prepare the next story. When I am preparing the next story or visiting with the people, I feel the need to be at home with my family. There is a constant battle between the three. Maybe that is healthy.

As a minister of the gospel, I realize that my greatest mission field is my wife and children. If I do not nurture the gospel and teach them the Word, nothing else that I do will matter. Nothing. If I fail at home, I might as well pack my bags and go back to the states. Maybe, as my sons, ages 2 and 4 grow, they will become less dependent, and there will be less of a need at home. Even so, I don't want to be the absent father because I don't think it is fair to them, or to my wife.

Combining family and ministry will be more of an option when they are old enough to participate without wondering off. They do help a lot now. We have several friends because they have opened the door to the friendship. People notice when we call them, they come.

Friday, October 06, 2006

 

New outreach group

Today I sat in the small house with a window behind my head. The man of the house sat in a chair in front of me looking out the window as we visited. I had only been there long enough to exchange greetings when he quickly interrupted me, and ran outside. I turned and looked out the window to see the lady's mother sitting in the patio crying, beating her chest and she had the phone to her ear.

As I went into the house, she told me that she did not feel well because of her high blood pressure. My friend took the phone, and she told us about three children whose parents were in Spain working. They had been left with family members, and someone had kidnapped a thirteen year old boy. While my friend talked on the phone, a neighbor comforted the lady, and the lady of the house came home. He finished his phone conversation. He and his family got into my car and we drove off to the home where the children were. The lady in my car was very upset, and constantly using the name of our Lord in vain. I asked permission to pray and they got quiet. I prayed for his protection, and quick return.

When we arrived at the house, the oldest boy in the family, who appeared to be about 14 years old, began to explain the events that had happened, how this lady came, said that she knew their mother, called them by name and even knew that their mother had given two of the children a new cell phone. She asked for the phones and the chargers, they gave them to her. She asked them to remove the chip from one, they did. She then asked them for money, and they gave her some. I asked if she had a gun, they responded no she did not. She asked a 13 year old son, whose parents are in Spain working to walk her to the bus stop, he did, and then the boy came back. The boy was not kidnapped. I was relieved. That happens a lot here.

The lady told an older adult lady there that we were going to start having prayer in her home once a week. We had talked about my coming regularly to host a new outreach group in their home. The woman was interested.

When we arrived at their home, the older lady told me that her blood pressure had spiked earlier that morning and how her neighbor just came by to visit, by chance. I told them that I would like to read them something that was meaningful to me when I was in the military. I am a Christian, and often, I was the not-so funny end of the joke. I read Psalm 27, and explained that all I have belongs to God. Then I told them that I do not believe in "by chance". They thought that the neighbor came by chance, and that I had visited by chance. Today is Friday. I usually visit this family on Thursday, and yet I was there today, Friday.

I explained that because I was there, I was able to meet all these people, and that I would like to start with the Bible stories. Then I asked, when we could begin. They responded Friday of next week at 6:30. So, Friday, 13 October at 6:30 I will start another new outreach group.

This couple is not married, but they have been together 5 years, and have children together. The man decided to leave her a few months ago, but went into deep depression, started drinking and smoking again. His boy began to have serious emotional problems, so they decided that they need to be together. I have tried to stay neutral with them because I want the decision to be theirs whether they marry or separate. I believe that they will marry with time. If you recognize Jesus as your owner, please pray for them. Derlis and Marta are their names.

Monday, October 02, 2006

 

camp

My family and I spent the weekend with a group of youth from our church. The interesting thing about our youth is that the three couples that work with them all have children. In total there were ten children there under the age of 6 or so. We slept in tents in a resort area. This was not my first choice, but when we partner with churches, it is much better if someone else leads.

The children were so excited that they could not sleep for their naps, and at night they were not comfortable and did not sleep well. This meant that they were tired. They had their own program with the ladies, while the youth had theirs.

The original plan was to go to a camp with other churches in the convention. We were to stay at a convention owned camp about two hours from the city where we live. We had prepared a skit that we were to present to those at the camp. I did not see the skit, but they have good leadership and I expect that it will turn out well.

I met with the leaders of the group last night and they said that they wanted to preform that skit in the park where I am working. The skit lasts 7 minutes, so I told them that they needed to do more that just the skit. They would also need to sing some songs. They play instruments, and sing. In my unmusical opinion, they are professional quality. I look forward to involving them in ministry there. The event is scheduled for November.

My goal is to start new outreach groups as a result of this event. I feel self-conscious because I know that in May, I will be going to the states. But I can't just sit and wait until I go to the states and do nothing because that time is close.

I really appreciate the commitment that I see in some of these youth to be involved in the harvest.

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