Every year we travel to Roswell with a specific mission in mind. Our goal is to serve children with a Vacation Bible School. And every year we are struck with other things that God wants us to do or focus on. And it’s not at all what we expect.
This year I have been praying for the congregation here at Westminster. That they would start to step up to the challenge of “doing” mission, on any level necessary to jumpstart something bigger! And that is a great goal! However, is it God’s plan? I’m still not certain.
Tonight, Friday July 11th, four of us had a very unique opportunity to be a part of something that some might call weird, uncomfortable, awkward. Adam invited me to play and sing at a tent revival just up the road from the Boys and Girls Club. Several people got to worship God in song and testimony! It was awesome, and nerve-wracking! I have never played or led worship in that environment. It was an awe-inspiring moment to be sure.
But what happened next was even more amazing.! The pastor, referred to as Juan Loco, or crazy John, had everyone gather together, moving forward toward him. We closed our eyes, and he asked us to hold hands with the people beside us. Then he told us to pray for those people. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know there names or situations. It was sufficient for us to just pray! To just call on Jesus’ name!
Now, coming from a Presbyterian church, it was awkward to hear most of these people praying out loud! We just don’t do that! Why, I wonder? It was a beautiful thing to hear so many people saying the name of Jesus aloud, and praying that Jesus can “save your soul”, “give you rest”, “pull you out of addiction”! It was awesome! So I prayed out loud for these two men beside me, I squeezed their hands and I truly felt God’s presence in that place! It was humbling and intimidating and scary and everything that our safe walls shield us from. The man on my left had found Jesus, actually led some worship with us previous in the evening. So I prayed for his music ministry, that God would bless him and expand his territory. The man on my left was one of the men and women that brought and prepared food for us that night. I found out later that he was in a bad place, that his family was struggling and he was struggling. And before he left he came to me and shook my hand and thanked me for my prayers. And I didn’t even know what I was praying for!
This man’s church was an open tent, in the worst part of town. Where he serves the children that run the streets. The children of drug addicts, and dealers. Of abusive parents, or the parentless. The man who gives everything he has, and asks for nothing in return. 35 years in this ministry, and going strong!
Watching this worship service makes me question how we can just sit back and watch as stuff happens, without taking steps to stop it, or to at least minister to it. To be there for these kids, means the world to them.
I sat in a circle at the end of the night, for us (he was staying with food on the tables for hours, or until all the food was stolen), and watched as he prayed with a child. He said, “repeat after me… Jesus, I thank you for my mother and my father. I thank you for saving me. In Jesus name, Amen.” Then he turns to me and says, “I want you to pray with these children!” And my heart stopped. Talk about being thrust out of your comfort zone. I come from a church that doesn’t teach us to pray out loud, that almost doesn’t seem to encourage it! Yet here I was, being humbled by this man to pray for these two boys, not much younger than my own! So, while holding their hands, we prayed. It was an amazing God moment. And now my heart is torn. Is God giving us a new direction to follow, an invitation to do VBS at this pastor’s tent next year, which we received (he even said he would pay for it all, that we would need for nothing while we were there, talk about God providing!!)? Or, do we continue to help Westminster Church realize that they can do what we are doing for them on their own at some point (do they even want that)? Or, maybe an alternative. Can we do both?
I don’t know what is in store for us this year, but I do know that God is definitely in control! We need to step out of the way, and let God do the work that He has planned. Not because of us, but in spite of us so that His glory can be seen!! To God be the glory, no matter the mission! Let His will be done here in Roswell, as well as back home!