I will say this: I think Webb's got it right, pretty much. You?
A waitress, who was really moved by both the concert and our mission presentation at the bar, spent a long time talking with my wife and me. She is in her mid 20’s, I’d say, and she knows she has made some bad decisions with her life. Looking for help from God to get her act together, she began attending her mother’s church until the pastor told her that she wasn’t welcome unless she left her live-in boyfriend and stopped living in sin.
She told me that she really didn’t want to live with him, knew it was wrong and that it was also a bad example for her son. But, she said that she saw no way that she could make ends meet for the two of them without his help. She is trying to better herself and is taking classes at the local university in addition to waitressing. She thought that she could go to church where she could learn how to find a relationship with God and learn how to follow him and hopefully find a way out of her situation, but instead she was now both bitter and distraught over what happened with the preacher incident.
But, what we are doing in building this mission to the Ukrainian kids really got her attention and showed her a side to faith she hadn’t experienced in her mom’s church. Immediately, she wanted to help in any way she could. She told us she felt like she could jump on a plane with us and head for Ukraine were it not for her son. I explained that he could go too, as it would be good experience for him, although a bit young. We organize short term family mission trips, where the families temporarily adopt kids from the orphanage to stay with them and interact with them while they are there. It helps the orphans immensely and is life-changing for the entire family.
Anyway, I explained the unconditional love, grace and forgiveness of Jesus to the waitress and she began fighting back the tears. You could see the burden lifted as she began to grasp the idea of a God who would accept her at face value. She is looking forward to talking more with us.
But, here is what I see, and this is the kind of thing I experience all the time in evangelism:
1. This girl didn’t need anyone to tell here what was wrong with her; she already knew.
2. What she needed to know was that if she waited until she ‘got it right’ that she would never measure up, and that God just wanted her to give her heart to him despite how messed up her life was.
3. What she went to church to find, she was refused because some judgmental goof ball was unwilling to extend the same kind of grace to her that God extended to him when he got saved. I run in to this ALL the time and it is one of the biggest reasons, I believe, that people find religion offensive.
4. If this girl becomes involved with us in our mission, whether here or in Ukraine doesn’t really matter, her focus will change from inward to outward. She will grow more concerned with meeting the needs of others and will find true fulfillment in that, just as we all do. In the process, the sins that hold her captive will begin to diminish their hold on her because she now finds something much more worthwhile to live for.
We don’t spend a lot of time in discipleship training because we find that if we believe in someone, they begin to believe in themselves and they begin making the changes necessary in their lives as the Holy Spirit convicts. In the end, we have true missional disciples, not proud self-righteous Bible scholars who may appear religious but have little or no compassion or passion for those who are perishing. Of course, we believe this is true discipleship as well as the kind of obedience which pleases God.
All we really need to do is to go into all the world and live out the Gospel in their midst and God will take care of the rest.
09 December 2006
This story is from Webb Kline, via Rick "Bartimaeus" Meigs. Do me a favor - read it, and, if you feel like it, tell me what you think. I don't want to prejudice you by commenting on it at all myself.