Here in Kansas City, Missouri some families have decided to pack up and move from the suburbs to the “HOOD.” The church they attend is a church I could have easily been apart of but God saw it better for me to be a part of Christ Fellowship of KC. Some of the families at this church(Faith Community Church) have been living there for years. Jason Dawson who is a member at that church and fellow blogger lives in the Northeast part of KC with his family and others from his church have followed. (his blog is http://urbanreformation.com) We have heard of this at my church and have decided to do the same. Many at our church like myself have put their house on the market and this will be their next move God willing. I think this is an excellent sense of community that believers desire and even want to mimic when looking at the first century church. Jason wrote this article and I thought it was great! Enjoy!
Today started off innocent enough, we are preparing for our annual BYBC (Back Yard Bible Club) out of our home next week. One of the things I’ve noticed from living in the city for a few years now is the fact that when we moved down here, it was to bring Christ into this place. It was to bring light into darkness.
However one of the things that our flesh automatically does without our taking notice, is it has us in the same routines we used to do when we lived in the suburbs. In other words, we have not been engaged in the city like we should. We would often eat out in restaurants outside of the the North East, and do most of our shopping outside of the north east. I would go to work and come home. This is what most of America does, we live in these compartments of comfort and safety and we have been no different.
My family and I started the day off by considering these things, and making our way to Budd Park city pool not too far from our home, in order to be intentional. We have always managed to find the ability to swim outside of the city because often it’s been outside of what we know and our comfort zone. However today we went there with the intention of passing out flyer's for the back yard bible club next week. I was surprised when there were several there who seemed interested especially one Hispanic man and his son.
It was a small pool but the whole family enjoyed themselves and well I got a little too much sun. Regardless we were able to pass out several flyer's for the BYBC and we are hopeful some might come. May we continue to pray for the families we spoke to as well.
And then if I didn’t have enough I spoke with a friend of mine who’s in our shepherding group and he came over for dinner this evening. Things went very well at the pool so I asked him if he would go down to Independence Avenue with me. Little did I know what we would encounter as we went out to share Christ. We prayed and both of us having a conversation of this to be genuine sharing Christ and we desired that it not be just something wrote or disingenuous, but that the Holy Spirit would empower His people to share His Grace.
The first guy we ran into started speaking about terrestrials, and he was speaking to himself in the air before we got there. He spoke of uncloaking people. We did the best we could to speak to him but he was not receptive, we gave him a book Pursuing God—A Seeker’s Guide and just then another gentleman walked up to us probably late 20’s with a baseball cap, white guy with gold fronts. He was wanting to go “kick it” somewhere and just then Bobby mentioned that we are here to share the gospel with him. We let him speak for quite a while, it was a bi-polar conversation, and just as there was a crack for us to make our way in the bus came and he took off, yes with a book as well.
As we began to walk down the street slowly looking around finally we crossed, and there was a guy who we attempted to speak to, asking him “do you know who Jesus Christ is?” he replied, ” that’s a funny question because I think you know who I am” and then he walked off. We by this time were perplexed about our encounters.
Until we came down the block and as I prayed I was wondering if we’d encounter anyone who’s conscience wasn’t so seared by the things of this world so that they could hear a crying out for them to believe on Jesus Christ that they might be saved.
Right about this time we see this woman sitting right about where the back of this white car is now. We asked her simply, ” Did she know who Jesus was?” Almost in an instant her eyes welled up with tears. This poor haggard woman was probably in her early to mid 40’s. She had kind of colored reddish brown hair. She had one top tooth and her bottom teeth were black and crooked. She looked worn from drugs, abuse, possibly prostitution at some point.
Bobby and I weren’t prepared for the conversation that we had next. She said yes she knows who Jesus is, and she said that she believes in Jesus. I have counseled and spoken to dozens of addicts who say Jesus and then they love the world. This woman was different. I don’t have the conversation verbatim, however one of the first things she said is that, “God chooses people and he hasn’t chosen me.” She said she married a Christian man at the age of 33 and lived as a believer for 5 years, and gave her whole heart to God, but God would never free her from her addictions. She had heard countless stories and seen them of how people came into churches and were saved and then freed from their addiction but she’s cried and pleaded to God to free her, and she said all the immoral things I do, I’ve asked him to take it from me and he just won’t. If you could see the pain and agony in her tears, the worn face, and the tired and probably high countenance.
We had never encountered someone who had in a sense “right” doctrine and saw that in spite of her incessant crying out to God, she could not free herself, and He seemingly to her, would not help her. Bobby comforted her with these words, if you had to live in torment all the days of your life, and in agony, and pain, would your faith be worth it, is God whom you trust in? She insisted that she believes in God and that she will until the day she dies, but He has not chosen her, and so she’s given up. I tried to point her to the fact that as long as she has breath it’s not too late, and that even right now if God’s in control of everything, that us meeting her in that very moment was His purposed plan to call her back out of darkness into light.
Bobby had more words of comfort for her in the sense that he has experience with similar situations and to be truthful we were shown a glimpse of a perspective that we knew was out there but never had anticipated an articulation of theology from an addict on the streets. I pray that God will use this meeting with Donna to bring her to Himself, I’ve never seen anyone so seemingly desperate for God, and honest about it since I’ve been down here.
This was an encounter I will never forget. I’m sure Bobby won’t either, and it’s a wake up call to sitting, living compartmentally, socially detracted, and distracted from the movement of the Gospel to move men and women to engage the people around them.
We pray soon that we’ll make this a regular practice and we’ve picked out a starting point on Independence Avenue. For those of you that don’t know Independence Avenue is one of the most difficult places in Kansas City MO in regards to sin and crime. I’m still processing through everything that happened tonight so please forgive me if I’ve not articulated well, or that I leave any theological cliff hangers dangling because these are things that when they are on paper, and in the pages of books they can seem very comforting, and trustworthy but this increased God’s enormity in my life this evening in the sense that I am nothing before Him but an instrument. I hope an instrument that He might use to people to really engage people who are not like themselves.
For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. -1 Corinthians 9:16-23
If anyone knows me I don’t use this passage to justify being like the world but I view this passage as having to know and be engaged in peoples life, in their context for the genuine purpose, like Paul, to Share Christ with the lost.
So I charge all of you to pray for Donna, the lady we met this evening! And then I challenge all of you to look up, and see what we’re missing when it comes to lost souls!!!
The same savior that saved you desires for others to make disciples as an imperative in Mathew 28, in an authentic genuine way that will bring honor and Glory to His name.
If you’re interested in sharing Christ on Independence Avenue we will be doing it again next week starting here.