Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

What About the Change?

planting

What About the Change?

“Nice sermon, Max. It really made me think.” I know that as he left worship that day he meant those words as encouragement. I didn’t see the need to tell him right then that whether or not a sermon made someone think doesn’t make a lick of difference to me. I simply don’t care whether anything I say makes someone “think”. I care whether they experienced the Holy Spirit in worship, and whether something in that experience led to a changed life. I took the encouragement and simply said, “Thank you. See Wednesday for breakfast?” That’s a better place for a conversation about the difference between “thinking” and “experiencing”, and “sparked interest” and “changed life”.

For our community, what happens on Sunday morning is not only not all of “church”, it isn’t even all of worship. We live life together here. And we live sent. Apart from Mondays, which are days of reflection, people are engaged in God’s mission every day. There are prophetic worship happenings, and healing worship on other days of the week than Sunday. We break bread together regularly. We meet for accountability sessions. And we pray together. We disciple one another around supper tables knowing that disciples aren’t really disciples if they aren’t making disciples. And we serve together in the mission. We get dirty together, fear together, cry together, and toil together. And we see miracles together, signs and wonders of the coming and present Kingdom. Corporate worship on Sundays is a celebration of all that the Lord has done in the mission during the week. And it’s a time to put the pieces together…to go after those parts of ourselves that Christ is trying to redeem and to claim as his. Part celebration and part reflection and part Spirit connection, corporate worship on Sunday is designed as an opportunity to experience the Holy Spirit in a unique way that leads us to change our behaviors, and thus to change our lives. A closer and closer walk. A deeper and deeper obedience. A thickening of our souls.

So, I don’t measure effectiveness by what folks say on the way out on Sunday. I am grateful for the encouragement because it has historically been few and far between. But I am looking for the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of folks, and in myself. Am I kinder? Am I better at discerning what’s really going on? Is my heart breaking for what’s breaking God’s heart? Am I more patient? Does my heart, and do my hands, reach out to people who I could never get anything from? Am I responding with my life and all that I have to the urgency of the situation in the world? Am I praying with all my heart for blessings upon those who have sought with all their hearts to do me harm? Am I inviting others into Kingdom participation with me…the most precious thing in my life? If I lost my checkbook and my calendar and you found them, would you be able to tell from them that I believe in a Kingdom not of this world…and that I am a Christ-follower? For me, those are better indicators of the effectiveness of our missions and ministries, and better indicators that the Holy Spirit has, indeed, come by here. Did that make you think? I love you, but I really don’t care if it made you think. It’s about the fruit. It’s about the change.

Don’t Follow the Breadcrumbs. Follow the Rabbi.

Don’t Follow the Breadcrumbs. Follow the Rabbi.

I was

Wrong. I thought

It was about leaving

Breadcrumbs…like Hansel and Gretel…but

Following those breadcrumbs will only lead you

To the witch.

The grackles have eaten the damn things anyway.

The Way

Forward can only be

Found in imagining

With Jesus…

Asking…

Begging, pleading with Jesus

For a Way

Forward.

Imagining

With Jesus…

The real one, the Living One…

The Way

Forward.

There is

No other way

Forward.

Holy, If Only for a Moment

Equals

Holy, If Only for a Moment

Our food pantries use a term, “Ladders of Peace”.  Some folks struggle with what it means. Like anything that is truly human and truly real, it resists simple definitions. It is who we are in our pantry communities. It is best understood in experiencing it.  Like so many things that are bigger than we are, we are sometimes unable to talk about the ways that they have touched us and changed us, because we just don’t have the words to fully convey the experience.  All I can say is that you understand it when you see it come to life…when you see it in the flesh.

After we close our pantries, we gather our volunteers for a time of reflection.  You have to understand that for us, these aren’t merely food pantries that distribute food.  These, to us, are churches of Christ. They are sacred places where the “least of these” can be found.  And where the least of these can be found, so can the Lord. They are bushes where the birds of the air come to find shelter.  In our reflection time, we ask people to tell us about their experience, how it changed them or made them think differently about something.  Sometimes, the answers are simple: “I had a good time.”  But sometimes the answers are profound.

He is from Myanmar, though I think he might say that he is from Burma.  He is from a persecuted people group there, the Chin.  He has spent a good part of his life as an IDP, and then as a refugee in a camp outside his country.  He immigrated to the U.S. fairly recently.  If I had to guess, I would guess that he is in his early twenties.  His English is broken, but we can communicate. He brings a group of about twenty other Chin young adults and teenagers once a month to serve with us. He has a light in him that is infectious.  He has a joy that is overflowing out of him.  He has every right to be an angry and bitter young man, and he is not.  I don’t know why.  What I do know is that I count him among my friends, and I am grateful.

As he began to speak that day (it was his turn), I struggled at first to understand what he was saying.  I think he was a little nervous.  But after the first few sentences, I understood what he was saying.  He said that since coming to the U.S., he has been treated badly because he looks different, and because his English isn’t good.  He said that people look down on him, like he is less than them.  He told us about the struggles that he’s had in finding a job because of prejudice.  The “American Dream” has been elusive for him.  He told us these things while all the while smiling.  It struck me that his smile was transcendent, from a place not of this world. And then he said something that was both simple and profound.  It pierced me.  He said, “In my life, everywhere I go here I am looked down on.  But not here.  Here is different.  Here, I am an equal.” He smiled.  He sat down.  Tears began to well up in my eyes. The room was silent…holy, if only for a moment.  The Kingdom of God had drawn very near to us, and we had the incredible opportunity to participate with him in it.

Why This Smear of Ash?

Ash smear

Why This Smear of Ash?

Ashes to ashes.  From the dust do we come and to the dust shall we all return.  No matter how far along the road we get, Ash Wednesday reminds us that we all have a common starting point on this earth, and a common ending point.  These bodies are made from the dust of the earth, and one day these bodies will be returned to their lender.  It still freaks me out a little bit to be reminded that house dust is mostly dried skin, our flesh carried off by the wind only to find a new home in the television vents and strewn across the coffee tables and dresser tops.  It is a healthy reminder of just how insignificant we are…and how fleeting and fragile this life is.  The paradox of insignificance…the crazy incongruity of being nothing and yet being treasure.  In and of ourselves, we are dust and ash.  Yet, connected to something inexplicably bigger, we are also breath and all that goes with it.

It is likely that today you will see a dark smear of ash on the foreheads of some of our neighbors, a reminder of what we are without that something that gives us breath…that something that gives us hope in the reality of the dust from which we are made and to which we shall return.  Why has the God of Love chosen to form us from the earth and to number our days? Why must what begins here also end here among broken hearts and broken things?

Today, I do not have an answer.  But as I look at the black smear of ashes on the foreheads of so many people seeking answers to so many unanswerable questions and solace for so many still-open wounds, I am compelled to think on these things.  What are we really if we are truly more than the sum total of our carbon matter and firing synapses?  Do we really belong merely to the earth from whence we come, or is there more that we come from than dust and water? And what about the breath?  What about the love? How do we explain the love and the hurt and the joy?  Where do those come from, and what do we owe their author for visiting them upon us? I have never seen a tree weep at the loss of another tree.  Outside of poetry, I have never heard a wheat field roar with laughter.  And I have never seen a mountain lay down its life for another mountain. Of what are these?  Surely these will not return to the earth because it is not from the earth that they have clawed their way into us.  What ends must end.  There is no changing that.  But sometimes I think that end must be real in order for all that has led up to that end to have real meaning.  Without claiming our beginning AND our end, can we really claim that anything that we choose or experience between those two banal commonalities really matters at all?  Ashes to ashes.  From the dust do we come…or do we? I will dwell on that…today.

The Space Between…A Holy Space

Prison light 2Timothy or Paul

The Space Between…A Holy Space

When the crisis became a reality for him, he took me up on the offer, but I think it was because he had absolutely no other offer. I don’t think he really wanted to live here.  He liked the way I knew him.  He liked that I knew him for the guy he wanted to be.  The face he showed me was the face he strove for.  He didn’t want me to know everything about him.  Not everything about him was what he wanted to be.  I think he needed somebody to know him as he wanted to be known.  I think he really needed somebody to see him that way.  It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t fully real.  I don’t know anyone who can bear having their whole selves revealed in the full light of day. We all have really ugly places that we have to deal with every day, and that we just don’t want others…people other than God…to know. He needed a place to stay, though.  So, I let him stay here.  It’s hard to hide when you live in close proximity.  I helped him solve one set of problems, but I may have lost something precious in the process.

There is this guy that he wants to be.  And the role I played in his life was to know that guy, and to reflect that guy back to him.  He needed to shine somewhere because there are so many places where he doesn’t shine…and he knows that so excruciatingly well.  I was the guy who knew him at his best, who saw him only at the times of his choosing.  I was the guy who saw the person he wanted to be.  That was a “holy” role…that was a holy space.  It was a place of hope for him.  I wish I had understood that.  I hope now that the truth of unconditional love will have taken root in his heart.  I hope that he comes to know that even though I now know the other sides of him, I still am the guy who sees him the way he hopes to be. I hope that the grace of God can overcome my failure to see the holy space that he had created for me in his life. And I hope that that same grace helps him to know that the space between the person he is and the person he hopes to be is becoming shorter with each passing day.

By Your Boot Straps: A Story that is all too Often True.

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By Your Boot Straps: A Story that is all too Often True.

Here’s how it happens.  You can’t get a job because you don’t have driver’s license.  You don’t have a driver’s license because you can’t afford to get one.  You finally save up enough money from doing odd jobs to learn how to drive after saving for two years to do it.  Then, you can’t afford a vehicle.  So you save for another two years to come up with $1,100 to buy a clunker, except you can’t afford the insurance.  So you drive without insurance because it’s your way to get to the legitimate job you finally got that will allow you to get insurance.  Then your tail light goes out because a mouse ate through your wiring.  The repair will cost a couple hundred dollars that you don’t have because you owe $3,000 to the utility company who just turned your power off.  You owe $3,000 because you didn’t have a job for four years while you were scrounging enough money to get a driver’s license and a car so you could get a job to pay your utilities before they get turned off.  Your pay goes to paying that off so you can cook the food you can’t afford and have to get in inadequate supply from the food pantry.  But…at least your working, so you have hope.

Then, you get a ticket for your tail light being out.  And you get another ticket at the same time for driving without insurance.  You couldn’t afford the light repair, so you sure can’t afford the tickets.  So you start saving to fix the light, and you have no choice but to drive anyway because that’s your only way to get to your job, and your job is your only hope.  Meanwhile, the time is ticking on paying your tickets.  Then you get a letter from the DMV saying that your license has been suspended for failure to pay the tickets that you can’t afford to pay for the tail light that you still can’t afford to fix.  You need the job, so you drive anyway…just to work and back.  You walk miles to do everything else.

Then, on your way to your job which is your only hope, you get pulled over again for the tail light.  They find out that you’re driving on a suspended license and they impound your car and give your another ticket that you can’t afford.  The impound lot charges $50 a day.  You don’t have $50 so it sits there adding up $50 a day to the point where you owe more than the car is worth.  And you try taking two buses to get to work, and get there late.  Twice.  And they fire you.  Now, you’ve lost your car, your driver’s license, AND your job…which was your hope.  And you have tickets that aren’t getting paid because you’ve lost your job and don’t have any money to pay them.

The power gets turned off again because you don’t have a job any more to make payments to keep it on.  Then your rent is late for the same reason and the landlord is calling and screaming at you and calling you a deadbeat and threatening to put you out on the street.  The stress starts to build.  And build.  One day, you’re trying to get some groceries after walking to two miles to the nicer store with better prices, and the clerk treats you rudely…the stress catches up and you respond rudely even though you know you weren’t raised that way.  The clerk escalates the confrontation with a more rude remark.  You then respond in kind.  The off-duty policeman in line behind you who has no idea of your life situation and didn’t hear the clerk’s first remarks sees only a customer who is causing a scene.  He decides to intervene and calls in your information after pulling you aside for a “stop and frisk”.  He’s only doing his job.  He just thinks it’s simple…and there’s nothing simple about poverty or despair.  The dispatcher informs him that there is a warrant out for your arrest for the unpaid tickets.  So, he arrests you.

You don’t have the money to pay the ticket.  So you sit in jail because you have more time than you have money.  Your four kids are at home without supervision. Oh, did I forget to mention that in the midst of all of this, you’re trying to raise four kids?  Where’s the dad? Oh he’s in prison.   One of the kids acts up at school.  Social Services find out they’re living at home without an adult…looked in on by a sympathetic neighbor.  They take your kids.  When you finally get out of jail after serving 30 days among murderers and gang members, you still don’t have a driver’s license because you don’t have a job to earn enough money to get it reinstated.  You can’t get a job because no one will hire you without a driver’s license.  You have no electricity at your apartment.  Your landlord started eviction papers on you while you were in jail, and you will be on the street in about five days.  You can only get five days worth of food once a month from the pantry because somebody figures that’s all you need and any more will enabling you.  You could probably sell that, but it wouldn’t cover what you owe the landlord. Your car is now hopelessly owned by the impound lot owner.  And your kids are spread between three different foster homes and are acting up in them and getting in trouble with the law.  Their own spiral into poverty has begun in another generation, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And then, you are approached by a gangster who says he feels your pain and has a solution.  If you just sell a little pot for him, you will have enough money to get the license out of hock, get the power turned back on, pay your rent in cash, and get back on track to getting another legitimate job so you can get your kids back.  You can make enough in five days to stop the eviction.

At first you just sell to people you know.  Then one of them brings someone you don’t know.  She turns out to be an undercover police officer.  You get busted with possession with the intent to deliver…and that means prison and criminal record.  Nobody hires people with criminal records anymore, and everyone now does a thorough background check before they hire.  You are done.  And you aren’t even forty yet.

Oh, this is an extreme case, you say? Oh, this is the exception and not the rule? No, it isn’t.  And it all started with a tail light being out and not having the means to fix it. It takes more than boot straps.

Joy, The Real Kind

broken%20windows

Joy, The Real Kind

He’d been there at the front door handing out numbers and joking around with Harold for about six weeks straight. Tats from neck to wrist, leather café jacket. Scraggly beard, Young, but old.  That’s the part the gives it away.  Young, but old.  The old is in their eyes…maybe in their bones, too. There’s a way that they carry themselves.  There’s something else in a recovering heroin addicts eyes, too, that I can’t explain.  There’s more to it, but you get to the point where you just kind of know who’s using and who’s recovering. Crack has its tell-tale signs, the jaw going side-to-side, the skin on the hands picked raw.  Heroin has its tell-tale signs, too.   He’d been referred to us by Justice 2000 for mandatory community service hours.  When he came he was pretty sketchy.  And I’m pretty sure he thought we were, too. He didn’t know what all this “Kingdom of Heaven” stuff was about, not sure he wanted to either. But he kept coming back.  And his guard came down.  And we came to know him. And he came to know us. He finished his community service hours, and he kept coming back anyway.

He had been doing so well.  Despensa de la Paz had become more than a place to him, just as it has for so many people.  People who don’t understand spiritual things think we hand out groceries.  Yes, it’s about groceries, but it’s about a whole lot more than groceries.  I always make it a habit to say, “Love you, brother” or “Love you, sister” when they leave. I said that to him every week for a long time.  I think at first he was kind of weirded out by it.  But I remember the first day that he said, “Love you, too.”  His eyes welled up with tears as he said it.

The Teacher said one time that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.  It’s the smallest of all seeds.  But it grows into a huge bush where the birds of the air come and take shelter. He had to take multiple buses to get to Despensa.  He probably had to start riding about six in the morning.  This had become a bush where he could come and take refuge.  It started so small for him. A cup of coffee and just a break from somebody.  And it became huge.  For many people, Despensa is their refuge.  You can’t quantify that.  There’s no number for that on a form.  But for him, this is the closest thing he’s known to home and safety in a whole lot of years.  God is here, and no one contests God’s presence.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to Despensa and he wasn’t there.  I figured maybe he missed a bus, but that he’d be along.  His girlfriend came in very upset, and said she hadn’t heard from him, that he’d disappeared, and that she was worried about him.  She knows him.  They used together. And they were recovering together. She said he’d told her that he was thinking about getting some crack.  I know this is jaded and horrible, but I actually felt a sense of relief that he wanted to get some crack, because at least it wasn’t heroin.  So many people are dying out here from that first return visit to heroin when they relapse…too many to count. What crossed my mind was that he might mess himself up, maybe even get himself thrown in jail, but he wouldn’t be dead with a needle sticking out of his arm. Don’t get me wrong, I know the monster that crack is, and I’ve seen it devour households.  I’m just telling you what went through my head.  I have become what I’ve become. After years of this, it just is what it is.

I was excited to see him today.  Joy.  The real kind.  He was back.  And he was clean again.  And he was alive.  It’s funny how quickly we get into each other’s hearts here.  I’ve seen so many people not make it, so many people die or end up in prison forever, or just disappear…I just thank God every day that God has not allowed me to become hard. I don’t ever want to get to that terrifying place where I am afraid to feel anymore…where I am afraid to let people like him into my heart. The metaphor isn’t lost on me, “a heart that’s broken, and yet is also resurrected.”  As I walked away after catching up with him, I said, “Love you, brother.”  I heard the catch in his voice, holding back tears, and he said, “Yeah. Love you, too.” One day, this friend might not make it.  One day it might be this one that his mother finds dead in the bathroom, or who washes up in the Milwaukee River, or who dies in some Godforsaken abandoned warehouse.  It might be him one day.  But, not today.  Today, he was here.  Today, he was our gift.  And I am grateful.

Something Happens: 6 Observations on Disciples making Disciples

w eugene smith photo - walk

Something Happens: 6 Observations on Disciples making Disciples

1)     It seems to be about an invitation.  We see a lot of disciples made. We don’t use fancy discipling programs with three-fold color glossy curriculum. We don’t use video-based tier-one programming with slick marketing and marquee-name speakers.  Programs have never borne fruit in my community.  And we have never been in the position to buy expensive stuff.  And yet, we are seeing fourth generation disciples being made now.  We don’t use the latest techniques.  We don’t use anything that requires a lot of training. We use prayer and fasting and getting in the Word together. And we engage with God’s mission. We change what we do, and it changes what we see and what we think.  We seek the Kingdom with all of our hearts.  Where we find it, we participate in it.  And we invite others to participate with us.  We invite those coming out of the harvest to labor in the harvest with us right from day one. People want to be included in things that make a difference. When we invite our unreached friends into the mission with us, something happens.

2)      “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into the harvest…” WITH YOU: When we put a disciple side-by-side with an unreached person, and they are laboring together in a mission that represents the present Kingdom, something happens.  Jesus told his disciples, “When two or three are gathered in my name (or as Jesus would have gathered), I will be among you.”  So…there Jesus is…among us…doing what he did when he was in flesh.  When Jesus is among us, something happens.

3)     People need a new pair of glasses in order to see the Kingdom:  When we tell a Gospel story before we start doing a mission, and we don’t announce that it is a Gospel story, those who have not yet been reached by the Good News of the Kingdom but are laboring with us still end up viewing their participation that day through a Gospel lens. And something happens.

4)     Real Friends.  When we labor next to each other in the mission, we become friends.  I’m not talking about worldly friends who we choose because they can give us some advantage, or because we “like” them. I’m talking about the kind of friendship that forms when people are struggling together in something that is bigger and more important that either one of them.  I am talking about the kind of friendship that involves having each other’s backs.  I’m talking about the kind of friendship that can weather accountability because what you are engaged in together matters. When we start to have those kinds of friendships, something happens.

5)    “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road…?” Experience doesn’t seem to make disciples who make disciples.  But when experience is put together with intentional reflection, something happens.  We have a brief-back after every mission, and we ask people to tell us what they took away from their experience and how it changed them.  When people have the opportunity to both experience and reflect, something happens.

6)      It’s not about us. When we truly don’t care who gets the credit, things grow.  When we can truly give up agendas and the desire for personal accolades and recognition, and work to make sure that others get the credit, things grow. It’s deeper than that, though.  When we don’t care who gets the credit, then it’s not about us.  When it’s not about us, we can put down our masks and just be the flawed and vulnerable humans that we really are.  People are starving for a place to just be wounded and vulnerable, and have that be enough.  If it’s not about us, we don’t have to be in control and we don’t have to be perfect.  If we don’t, neither does anyone else.  Being able to be vulnerable and authentic allows people to grow. When people grow and missions grow and lives are changed right before people’s eyes, something happens.

Please Make Missional Simple. What do we DO?

Please Make Missional Simple.  What do we DO?

In practice, Missional Church must be kept super-simple,  or at least as simple as possible.  One of its goals is always multiplication of mission –  disciples becoming disciples who make disciples who make disciples.  Complex things don’t multiply.  There is no one right way to do this, but what I am posting below has worked for us time and time again.  Importantly, it has also transformed our “mother-ship” church to a large degree.  It will never be perfect, but there has been tremendous movement both in the mission field and in the church.  There is a whole bucket-load of theology behind the steps below, but people don’t ask me for the theology as much as for the way to get moving.  So here’s an algorithm, a set of steps to take and make your own.  My sincere suggestion is that you try to learn the steps first, then innovate.  But then, that’s up to you.  So here you go.  12 simple steps.  If you want to know the theological “why?”, I would be happy to have that conversation on here.  So feel free to comment away.  Have fun!

1)      Pray. Fast. Pray. Get a couple of Christ-followers with the spiritual gift of prayer, and walk through your mission field and pray for houses and families and people and alleys and street corners. Then pray some more.

2)      Get at least one Christ-follower from your church to go with you in the mission. If you don’t go to church, get a Christ-follower from whatever Christ-following group you hang out with.

3)      Find the “Person-on-the-Ground” who will tell you what is needed in that mission field, where to find the people in need, and when to find them. That person is out there.  The Holy Spirit put them out there to help you get started. Get them to agree to help you launch the mission.  Ask them where to meet her/him and when.  Don’t be disappointed if he/she no-shows.  They have already done what the Holy Spirit put them there to do.

4)      Get at least two people who are not Christ-followers and who do not go to church to agree to go with you into the mission.  Tell them, “I need your help to do some good for these people.”  Do not mention Jesus at this point.  Just invite them to help you do some good. Then let them help you do what you do better.  Let them have genuine impact.

5)      Go to your church and see what resources they are willing to invest in your mission.  Invite anyone in the church to help you.  Get your non-believers to go back to their tribes and nations to do the same.

6)      Gather your people at the mission site.  Tell a Bible story that relates to your mission.  Don’t READ a Bible story, tell it from memory.  Ask the people to look for that story as they serve in the mission.  Have a prayer for protection and for those who serve and are served. Set them loose to be subject and object.

7)      Launch.  Hand out the food or clothing or blankets.  Learn the names of those you serve and call them by name.  Have a conversation with anyone who will have a conversation with you.  A NORMAL conversation.  Ask them if there’s anything they need prayer for in their life.  If they say, “No”, ask them to include you in their prayers when they pray (be specific in your request if you can).  If they say, “Yes”, then offer to pray for them right then.  Tell everyone to invite their friends in need next time.

8)      Anyone that you pray with, ask to stay and help you.  If they can’t, ask them to come and help the next time.  Some of them will. Let them make genuine impact on what you do and how you do it.  Let them make your mission better. Invite them to pray with people.  Many of them will.

9)      At the end, re-gather your team and those who stayed to help.  Ask them to say something about how their experience impacted them.  What did they see that changed the way they think about something? Whose names did they learn? What touched their heart?  How do they feel?  Then connect their responses back to the story you told at the beginning.

10)   Ask all your helpers to come back the next time and to bring a friend with them.  Ask them to bring whatever resources they can get their hands on.

11)   Your team is now part of your congregation AND part of the mission.  So minister to them.  And become friends with them.  ALL of them. Live your life with them.  Invite them into your life.  Do this for no other reason than that you need friends. Kingdom conversations will begin to happen on their own, but feel free to smuggle the Kingdom into everything.

12)   Begin to look for adjacent mission fields (Other needs near your mission site, or other needs of the people you are serving).  Begin to apprentice your replacement at the mission site right away.  As soon as possible, give that mission away to your apprentice and take two of those people and start something new in one of the adjacent mission fields.

Despensa Painting02

Immanuel Logo

Something to Celebrate!

Project Galveston04

Something to Celebrate

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 ~ Jesus of Nazareth, a 1st Century Mediterranean Peasant, … and the risen Son of God

We do a lot of baptisms, and we make our share of disciples.  Our emphasis in discipling is that disciples make disciples or they are not disciples at all.  Our disciples are discipled to seek and live the Kingdom, and to invite others to seek and live it with them.  In a couple of weeks, something encouraging is going to happen.  It isn’t our victory except as it is a Kingdom victory and we are seeking to be citizens of that Kingdom.  We are going to baptize our first fourth generation disciple. We have seen other fourth and fifth generation disciples made, but this is the first who has decided to go public with his faith in our mothership community. A disciple that I discipled, discipled someone else to disciple someone else.  That someone else is this someone.  And this someone is now discipling others to disciple others.  He and the guy who discipled him have started mission and started Bible studies among people from their tribe.  All of these people were transformed in the mission, transformed by the mission.  Their eyes were opened to the Kingdom that was present in the mission.

This young man has faced persecution in his home.  His parents are militant atheists who have persecuted him for reading his Bible and for taking it seriously.  His faith has caused tremendous tension in his nuclear family. He has lost many of his rocker friends over his faith and the change that it has made in his life.  So, for him, this has not been an easy journey.  I will be posting his faith statement after his baptism, but I just can’t stop rejoicing today. I just had to shout, “Alleluia!!”.  The change in this young man is a true miracle, and we have had the unbelievable opportunity to witness it, and to know who to thank.

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