Often I am sure it seems to some I mostly write about challenges, that is probably true. However that isn’t because life here is so hard and challenging, or that we aren’t doing well. It is more because it is in the midst of the challenges that we learn most. That is often what I focus on because I like learning and growing. We have been doing a lot of that lately.
I want to first say though, we have had 4 or 5 months of great ministry with our soccer school. We are arriving in winter hours and going to have to slow down a season but we have had around 100 kids participate, listen to a bit of God’s word, begin to obey and even a few begin visiting the church. One very nice girl who is about 13 and has never been to church before.
At the same time our experiment to support Aluizio in order for him to be free to help has been much more of a learning experience. We are having to end that, slowing down the idea we had of investing more time and energy, perhaps a bit of money in the baseball soccer field. It had began to feel like I was expected to shell out money but that there didn’t seem to be a need to produce. It wasn’t all bad, there was a season he did a small tournament when we were out of town, he made some efforts to move the project forward, was great help cleaning the field but it felt it was changing, there was an expectation or a sentiment that we owed something instead of appreciation.
At the same time we had began to “cut off” or cut back investments we had made in TT and Kaela. Around Christmas we had began to get the same feelings, there was an expectation. Now, we live on others gifts, we understand that we too could suffer the same attitude. I am not good at remembering to write and thank all of you. I hope people understand it isn’t a lack of gratefulness or expectation I simply feel I need to do good work and God will take care of us. That does not mean I am ungrateful. Anyways, as we felt the “you owe us” attitude growing I began to remove myself a bit from there lives, not out of anger but it limits our ability to disciple when money becomes an issue.
About the same time we began to feel that a bit with the soccer project, not just Aluizio others also, we began to see TT and Kaela seek us out. She had been mad, sent her sisters and kids down to tell us, acted childish, he is more mature and really never was as much an issue. She began to miss the relationship, to have her perspective change. Now we again have relationship with them on a regular basis but it is a much healthier point to disciple.
I like to cook and I make a pretty good chili. The thing with making chili is it takes time, a lot of time. If you really want a good chili it takes several days. If you compare this to a hamburger or hot dog it is a monumental difference. I like hamburgers and hot dogs but how much better are they with chili on top. With the chili you get all your vegetables and peppers, fry them in butter at a real high heat and season them. You get your beans sort them and put them in a mixture of water and tomato sauce to slow cook for many hours. Then you add the veggies and if you like meat in it you also cook the meat, season it and add it. After bringing all of it to a boil you let it simmer. After simmering for many hours you put it in the fridge for a few days then simmer again. That is when it gets good.
God has been speaking to me how much our ministry reflects making chili. We invest in individuals, projects and things. We want results, we want to eat the hamburger but God is often making chili. Just like with TT and Kaela our story with Aluizio isn’t done. Just because we are cutting soccer back to Saturday when we can doesn’t mean it is done. This fall for you, spring for us it is likely to be even better because of the simmer time. We simply don’t have lights, enough people and aren’t ready to get the thing functioning during the week without causing problems with the kids school, time to put it in the fridge.
At the same time I am seeing this in the people we are ministering too I am realizing this is largely what God is doing in us. Our role in the body of Christ is too bring new people into relationship with Him. We have always been better moving on the fringe of the church. What I mean is we function in our gifts better when we are investing them into people who aren’t yet a part of the body or are barely there. We become frustrated when we are focused in the church. Neither is bad, just where we are more comfortable ministering.
For a long time I have felt torn at how to be “outside” and “inside” the church at the same time. We minister to people on the street, neighbors, kids, people at the military club. Yesterday we got invited to join a group of about 10 military families every Sunday who bbq together because they don’t have family here. None of them go to church, know God or really have much knowledge of what a Christian is. It is a great opportunity to let our family both get refreshed and minster at the same time. We are beginning to sense the way to cure the problem of where we fit in the church may be to plant a “church” of new believers.
To get involved in the lives of a group of people who don’t know Jesus and take the church to them. The book Radical by David Platt was very influential on me. I was going yes, finally, on every page. For a long time I haven’t wanted to build body around what I am doing, what I like, what I feel called to do. To attempt something that is a bit different. We like helping people, helping them meet there own needs, food, income and so on. We like sports, playing, watching, we like eating and bbq’s. I don’t like going to church quite honestly.
We are not in a rush and not sure but why not plant a “church” that is about incorporating things of our normal life into the life of the body instead of having a building we try and get people to leave there normal life and go to. Why not take the church to the military club for example, get to know them, bbq with them, share with them and then eventually seek to teach and share a bit right there, have that be the church. Or start a community garden, sports project where people work and play together and that is the church? Is church not body? Is body not living together and meeting one another’s needs?
These things are just simmering or perhaps being chilled. Perhaps it will mean a step back from the frontiers to experiment in a city more ready for our ideas. It certainly would mean moving a bit away from these local churches who we and God love that we wouldn’t offend them, I would never want anyone to feel I am saying their church isn’t good enough. It is more of what Jesus taught about wine skins, you don’t want to loose either so you put old wine in old wine skins and new wine in new. It may also mean a step back to formalize my education, a bit of seminary. We just wont know until God begins to take it out of the fridge. We know today we focus on what is here, nothing is changing tomorrow except us.
What I do know is I am encouraged to tread on, to keep ministering, to attack what is before us knowing God is neither done with those I minister too or with me. He will be faithful to complete this chili.