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.

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