It was my senior year in high school when my father learned he only had a few months to live. Knowing I was thinking about church work (at the time, DCE was my interest), he gave me a Bible for Christmas with a particular verse written on the flyleaf. It was Acts 8:31.
The context was the story of our Lord sending Philip to the Ethiopian official on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. That man from a different community, a different culture, was reading from the Hebrew prophets, Isaiah to be precise, and Philip asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" To which the Ethiopian replied, "How can I unless someone guides me?" (RSV)
Written in my father's hand in this Bible, so precious to me, were the words: "Dan, you will be someone who guides them." We didn't know at the time that my interest in working with youth would turn instead to becoming a pastor, or that being a pastor would lead to my call as district president. Serving the Lord has been my great privilege and joy.
Conveying these same words to you through our New Starts...New Believers mission movement also has been my great privilege and joy: "You will be people (you will be congregations) who guide them. How will they hear if they don't hear of Jesus from you? How will they understand if you don't teach them?"
But here's the caveat. They will only hear and listen to you-you can only guide them-if you go out to meet them and earn their trust. It's significant in the text above that God did not lead the Ethiopian man into a church meeting so he could hear and understand. He led Philip to the man.
Will you follow where God leads you? Will you follow the Holy Spirit into places and activities that connect you with people seeking to know who this Jesus is? That's what New Starts...New Believers is all about: one new thing to connect in the community, SO THAT you can be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus to people who do not yet understand the amazing gifts our God offers them.
Thank you for your part in doing this through prayers, actions and gifts of money that help your own church and others respond to Christ's call and say, "Here am I, send me."
Helping you respond to the Spirit's call is the purpose of New Starts...New Believers. Those taking this step, scary as it is, tell me of the joy and privilege they feel in connecting with their community. I earnestly want it to be your joy, too. You just may find it one of the greatest joys in serving in Christ's kingdom.