Saturday, February 20, 2016

San Jose, Ripe for the Gospel

Teija Kortelainen, Sue Stevens, Pastor Mike Stevens, Brent Hillenga, Lucy Hillenga --
Not in picture: Jose Rios, Dominick Principe, Tracey Principe
As I write the posts for this series, I'm kind of doubleminded about whether or not to do longer posts, with more sweeping generalizations.  But each post seems to cover a whole area of thought and in more detail than generalities would give us. And, if I'm honest about the whole process, I'm still sorting out my experiences and thoughts.  Putting it all into words helps give me more insight, as well.  The one thing I'm certain of is that, when I'm done with this series, there will still be more thoughts rumbling around in my head, waiting to get sorted out.

The church van is our backdrop for our starting illustration.  The picture, missing a couple of people, is the church team.  I figured it was about time to share those smiling faces, as we move to day 11 and beyond.

Day 11: It's Thursday, another day off.  It may seem like there are lots of days off, but that's not the case.  There are church activities every day other than Tuesday and Thursday.  Some are taking video classes from MBC&S, others are also working at outside jobs or seeking employment.  And, of course, there's the usual household stuff -- grocery shopping, laundry, etc.  For the pastoral team, there is the additional preparation for devotionals, sermons, etc.  And, of course, counseling.  

Two free days is not necessarily a reality.  My own experience was much the same.  I was doing all the team meeting and outreach devotionals while I was there.  So, prep time.was essential, plus laundry, cooking, shopping, etc.  And, when you have things like COPD and physical handicaps keeping you more indoors during cooler weather, it's easy to become far too sedentary -- becoming Willy the Lump instead of staying in shape.  In San Jose, I was suddenly more physically active than I had been in a very long time.  As a result, there were parts of my body that were protesting the change.  A day off helped with that.

Day 12: TGIF!  I already mentioned the church team meeting, last Friday.  My devotional, discussing church business and upcoming events, and fellowship.  And, far from least important, Sue Stevens prepared another amazing meal, despite being ill this particular day.  Definitely a servant's heart.

Earlier in the day, there's an outreach I missed the previous Friday.  We went to a park where homeless Nicaraguan refugees "lived".  Some, once the signs were pointed out, obviously deeply under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  And most were either ready to go to heaven because of their "good works" or avoiding God because they were certain their works had alienated God.  As we shared the Gospel of Grace, it was amazing to watch the change in those who realized that God really loved them personally.

That experience really highlights an important reality.  There's The Farm on Monday, the University outreach on Wednesday, the Nicaraguans on Friday, and a Saturday outreach on one of the walking streets.  I'll get to that last one, shortly.  But, if you're in a large church, that many outreaches doesn't seem like much.  Different people go on different outreaches.  In a smaller church, you don't have a large pool of people to do them.  After three years, there were the staff and some who'd gotten to the point of understanding the necessity.of sharing the Gospel.  But the times of most of the outreaches were during the work day.  So, many of the flock were busy earning a living.  

That left the same eight or nine of us going on all of them.  Not as an obligation, but as a privilege given to those who have learned to understand the love and grace of God.  I know I was drawn to share the Gospel as often as I could and help others to find the joy I know daily, no matter what the circumstances.

With what we've shared, today, do you do evangelism as an obligation or a privilege?

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