Posts Tagged ‘missio dei’

Holy, If Only for a Moment


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.


Mustard Seeds – The $1 Mission

Mustard Seeds – The $1 Mission

For what it’s worth…a thought about mission and  “little” mustard seeds. Something that has borne fruit in our missions is to think always in terms of:

1) “disciples who make disciples”,

2) “participation on the subject and object spectrum”, and

3) “multiplication”.

Occassionally, as the Spirit leads us, we do something called the “$1 Mission”. We take an offering in worship of one dollar bills from everyone who will give one dollar. It usually amounts to a little over $100. We pray over it. And we put in the hands of a person in the pews that the Spirit leads us to. Included in the envelope with the money is a note that reads:

“God put it on our hearts that you were in need of this money and that we should entrust it to you. God also put it on our hearts to tell you that only two-thirds of it is for you. The other third is for you to give to someone else you know who is in the same kind of need that you are. Whether you give it or not is between you and God. This is not our money, It’s God’s, now placed in your hands. Ours is merely an act of obedience. May God use it to bless you and, through you, someone else that God is desperately trying to bless as well.”

We also included the positive side of the passage from Matthew 25: “When I was hungry, you fed me….As you do unto the least, so you do also unto me.” (Quoted in full though, without Matthew, chapter, or verses) The only stipulation made is that the envelope has to be given anonymously in way that the receiver could never know where it came from. Like I said, that has borne much fruit inside and outside our walls. Have fun! Peace.

The Prayer Walk

The Prayer Walk

Did you ever read that passage about the seeds that fell upon the soil? Some of the soil was good and some was bad? Some was thin? Some was filled with weeds that swallow up new growth? Well, to my reading, the soil in which Kingdom seeds are planted matters.  Good soil needs preparation. Something has to happen in the soil in order for new life to take root and grow. Look, I know a lot of people think I’m kooky.  I believe in impossible things. I believe in things that the eye cannot see and the hand cannot fully touch.  I believe that prayer is serious, serious business.  And I believe that prayer has real power.  It changes real things in real ways.  I don’t claim to understand it.  I don’t understand it at all.  You would be stunned by what I don’t know. But I believe in prayer and I believe that God is acting in wild ways now just as God did in Scripture. So, if you think prayer is the utterance of lunatics, you are probably starting to think that I am the biggest lunatic in the asylum.  You can probably quit reading now because the rest of this is just going to tick you off.

Prayer is at the heart of every mission.  Prayer isn’t magic.  It is begging for a blessing. The Spirit must precede what we do or nothing transformational is going to happen. If you are asking what you can do “missionally” (whatever that means these days), you can put together a team of people who truly believe in prayer and go for a walk in a spiritually-contested neighborhood. When I say “spiritually-contested neighborhood”, I don’t necessarily mean just the alleys in the ‘hood.   I mean your own neighborhood. Inside every home in even the most affluent neighborhoods, God’s reign is very much contested.  Hell visits high-end homes as often as it does tumble-downs. The booze just has a finer label.  The abuse is just better-hidden. The hopelessness and despair of Gehenna are just veiled behind designer curtains. Desperation lurks in the crevices of every life. Pour out your prayers in front of every house you pass.  Ask for a blessing of peace on every family, on every sidewalk and driveway.  Pray over the cars that God might get into the mind of the drivers who are thinking about driving those cars drunk. As you walk past the neighborhood school, ask God for a blessing of protection and presence…not just for your kid.  For every kid.

And be low-key.  Leave the monk garb at home. Having the right God-gear or t-shirt isn’t going to add mojo to your prayers.  This isn’t mojo. This isn’t about you or me.  It’s about God.  It’s about the Missio Dei, the Mission of God.  Get on God’s side in the spiritual battles that are raging on every athletic field and in every convenience store. Get on God’s side in front of every home where you know violence is a part of everyday life.  Pray for a blessing on every liquor store and “Checks Cashed” place that exploits the vulnerable daily. Pray over the alleys that house the homeless that the darkness and its predators would understand these places as holy ground. Even the stones can be lifted.  Beg for an anointing on the street corners where the destitute beg for scraps from passing motorists. Get into God’s presence in deep humility and some of the residue of that encounter may fall upon the ground on which you stand…that “residue” of God is what anointing is.  It has real power.  Pray for God’s “Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven” on your local government center, and on the prostitution corners and crack houses.  Pray a cleansing on the gang graffiti. Walk by the jail and work-release center and pray a blessing on the officers and inmates.

Prayer IS the mission.  If you don’t have anything to give away, remember that giving away THINGS is not the point.  Getting on God’s side in God’s mission – the one that God is involved in with or without our participation – is what this is all about.  So, go for a walk today…with God…in prayer.  Pour your spirit out over your town, village, or city.  Weep over your city. You will be amazed at what you will see happen around you… and in you.