Thanks to all of you prayed for us during the recent hurricane and then reached out to make sure we survived the storm. There was minimal damage to the church facility. We lost a few chunks of shingles, signs and a fallen palm tree damaged the fence in our parking lot but that was all. The power came back on just in time for Sunday worship last weekend. We are very grateful that the damage was not worse. We were spared the fiercest winds, others in Florida were not so fortunate. We join in prayer for those who will be rebuilding for a long time in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, other islands, and Mexico.
There are three choices you have when you find yourself in the path of a hurricane. And, we are not out of the woods yet, there may be more coming. You can run away, "hunker down", or chase the storm. The first two are both equally valid responses. The third, chasing the storm, is just nuts. I can't tell you how many roving reporters I saw on TV saying, "You can clearly see why it's dangerous out here, stay home and be safe!" And I would yell at the TV, "You hypocrite!" But I admired their "chutzpah". They wanted to be right on the edge of the storm where they could get the best visuals and hopefully not be harmed in the process.
As we approach our 2nd year anniversary since our Grand Opening (November 2015) I see a parallel with weathering the storm and Kingdom building. The forces of darkness in this world do not want a corner of God's Kingdom expanding in our city. The darkness has a strong foothold in our city through things like addiction, conflicting ideologies, ethnic walls, language barriers, poverty, political polarity, homelessness, broken homes and the list goes on. Expanding our little corner of God's Kingdom is proving to be more challenging than we anticipated. Though the need for Christ in this culture is statistically one of the greatest in our nation, the forces that stand against Him are real. We must choose: run away, hunker down or chase the storm. We chase the storm! We run with our mission waving like a banner in the high winds: rooted in the Gospel, planting churches and growing disciples.
Let me give you just two examples of folks who have found their way into our faith community:
- He looked at me said, "I wish I had that." He was referring to the faith he saw in others. He wanted it, he just had too many reasons he didn't think such faith was reasonable or valid. I wasn't sure when he said those words if he was genuinely wishing he could follow Christ or if he was saying, "I wish I could have your simple little faith but I live in the real world." Regardless, my prayer is that he will have faith someday. I trust that God is working in his heart to give him the peace and hope that he sees in others. If he does or does not find faith, he's a friend and I enjoy spending time with him.
- She said, "This is my church now. It used to be their church (referring to the friends who brought her) but now it feels like my church." She went on to explain that she doesn't know the Bible very well and in years past when she came to church there was a disconnect. Now she feels like we are speaking her language and addressing the issues of her life. I could have hugged her!
Two brief conversations that remind me of running into the storm. We are trying to get as close as we can to the edges of the Kingdom so we can welcome everyone we can into the safety of His grace. Pray for courage as go!