Where are our Hearts?

Vol. 24 No. 3 | 4/8/2016

Where are our Hearts?

I feel I am to tell a true story, and then……

Many years ago—and you have to be old to be able to say “many years ago”—we were leading worship in a mid-sized church.  To many of you it would be small, but for a small church it would be considered something to attain to.  Anyway, the church was growing.  We had three services on Sundays, including Sunday evening, and would soon be talking about a 4th Sunday service. 

I can’t remember who started attending this church first, us OR this other couple.  But really it doesn’t matter a hill of beans to this story.   

This couple, we’ll call them the “Smiths,” was seeking God for direction regarding their place in the church and God’s plans for their lives.   AND God seemed to keep drawing them to the old school bus in the back of the lot.  They would inquire about it, and people would discourage them.  “Oh that bus hasn’t run in years,” or “the last time it was out, it broke down.”  They kept praying thinking that they must be missing God because no one was confirming this desire.  But… finally they stepped out and started a bus ministry for children in low income areas.

 They cleaned the bus really well.  The man was a mechanic by trade and he got the old bus running well—as well as old school buses can run!  Someone even donated 6 retread tires to get this ministry off the ground. 

For months they would take others out to the targeted area and canvas with flyers, just spending time with what children were playing outside.  If you don’t know anything about the low income areas, children playing outside are not the norm.  Usually they stay inside for safety reasons. The streets are full of drug dealers, shootings, or gang activity.  Soooooooooooooooo, this was going to take a while. 

It probably took a couple of months before the first child came to church on the bus.  We were all so excited.  And then another and another and another.   It seemed like suddenly the bus was full of children and some adults too.  There was such a buzz and excitement in our church. 

Our children’s Sunday school classes and children’s church were over flowing.  Wasn’t that a wonderful story?  Oh, let’s leave it there—and not tell the rest! 

Well—you know there has to be a fly in the ointment—it seemed that there were some who were excited about this new growth, BUT not in the same way a lot of us were.  They were concerned!  They were concerned about the influence these children were having on their children.  They were concerned as to whether or not these children were healthy, whether or not they had their juvenile shots and whether or not they had germs.  They were full of concerns—and because they had concerns—the Pastor and Elders had concerns. 

The leadership began to have strategy meetings about what to do.  In the meantime, the Smiths knew nothing about THE CONCERNS.   The Smiths were sharing the love of Jesus and watching God change the children, and even change some adults.  The Smiths were just happy to be doing the work of God. 

Well the leadership came up with the perfect solution.  They would separate these children in their own groups so they could be closer.  When the Smiths realized what was happening, they went to the pastor with their own concerns.  But for some reason the changes stayed in place.

Soon the children stopped coming, and so did the adults.  It seemed to happen overnight.  The bus was put back on the back of the lot, and the Smiths went to another church.  My guess would be that everyone involved had a few hurts, bruises, and broken hearts. 

One other tidbit, the church never grew back to that size and there was never a 4th service.

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Another long ago story – not as long ago as the first.  We started going to this other church in another town.  It was a store-front church in downtown.  The pastor’s heart was to see the town in love with Jesus and also to be a blessing to the town.  He once told me that “you” do not have the right to choose who you minister to, but God does the choosing.  As we sat under this man, we learned the heart of a Pastor.  I can remember times when I found him sitting on the curb with a homeless person.  He would be telling about the love of Jesus.  In the next minute, he may have been having a meeting with the mayor.  He always let God choose who he was to be with. 

One of my favorite life examples of Jesus working through this man was helping someone move.  (He is always helping someone.)  We were at his house one night, and his wife asked about his plans to help someone move the next day.  She asked if he had any help.  He told her that he had one other person.  Well we stepped up and said we would help.  He asked us if we had ever moved someone who rented through Section 8.  He stressed it is not easy.  We said moving was moving.  He tried to prepare us by telling us about roaches, rats, and moving things most of us would throw away.  But….we wanted to be Jesus with skin on – right???? 

Well – tomorrow came and we went to a house where two mentally challenged brothers lived.  Now one was moving to a nursing home and the other was getting another house.  As we were moving them out of the house, I was rejoicing that they were getting out of that house.  It was so run down, dirty, and needed to be condemned.   I felt that joy until we got to the other house.  Oh my – I will never forget the stench in that home.  It was terrible.   It smelled like the Sewer-Rivers in Guatemala except concentrated.  We would get a box off the truck, take a breath – hold it – and put the box in the house – then we would go outside and breathe again.   I never heard this pastor complain – and we never talked about it afterward.  I did hear him tell the man that he needed to do some serious cleaning, but it was with love.  BUT – I have never seen this man back down from serving those whom God would pick to bring across his path. 

Truthfully, his church was about the same size as the first.  Also, God had given him a Word that his church would be thousands, but on a Sunday morning you can’t see that.  It is funny how God works, though.  Because this man is just looking for the “God opportunities,” he is the chaplain at the local police department, the local sheriff’s department, has something to do with chaplaincy at the local fire department, and he is on the First Responder team.  He is in the highways and byways being a pastor to whomever God chooses.  Soooooo I say, that he has been, is, and will be, a pastor to thousands.  

 

My final question – “What would Jesus do?”  More bluntly – “WHAT WOULD JESUS HAVE YOU DO?”


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