Contrasts are a great way to begin to share a story and I certainly have a story to share. Over the past few weeks, I have been in what is called my First Thirty Days in the Harvest. This was a time of bonding with my area and beginning the process of recognizing the brokenness and needs that exist right around where I now live. It required hours each day walking my neighborhoods and surrounding area praying and sharing the gospel with all whom I came into contact. The point was to make sure that I bonded first with the brokenness and not with the rest of my team or churches with whom I will be working.
It provided me so much practice in the sharing and having at least one other brother modeling for me at a time was so very helpful. We practice something called MAWL. We model, assist, watch and then leave a skill with the person we are training. The interesting thing I learned is that what we are modeled, we inevitably then imitate. This means that my gospel sharing approach is now a combination of all of what my fellow brothers modeled for me. I love it. What a lesson in the art of disciple making! How humbling as well! How very much like what was taking place in Jesus’ ministry with His disciples.
So after many hours walking, praying, sharing and yes, even coming together as church, I have a few reflections to share.
I now live in an absolutely beautiful place. I am never more than a couple of miles from the beach. Palm trees and amazing tropical flowers are everywhere. I can walk along the intracoastal waterway in the parks and watch the seagulls and other birds play in the crystal blue water. I have been out along the beach at sunrise and sunset and have beheld such beauty. Now, the contrast. Amidst all this beauty, I have witnessed so much brokenness.
There is a huge population of people here who are struggling with drug addiction recovery. I would say that the majority of the people I engage in my immediate area have some background in this. I can tell you that I have come to enjoy ministering to and with this segment of people. They are open and realize their struggle and brokenness and have been a breath of fresh air to me. No pretense. No masks. My first church here that has been started is made up presently of individuals who identify with this struggle. We walk the Christian life together. We study the Bible together. We pray together and train together to share the gospel with others. We share our highs and lows and just be the church together and it is a beautiful mess as we like to call it. But it is church.
I met a great guy named Pompano who is a Haitian American whom I met in a Haitian restaurant. We have trained together. We have gone out in the harvest together and I was so blessed to watch him as he shared the 3 Circles gospel presentation his first time out in the park. It was beautiful. We continue to meet for Commands of Christ and are looking forward to how God will use us together in planting churches. All I have to do is give him a text and if he is free, he joins me in the harvest.
I have met Stuart and Mary Payton who live in my apartment complex. They attend Family Church but we are meeting together as a church start in the clubhouse area where we live and are going out into the harvest right where we live and bringing people together for the Commands of Christ. It is all about being intentional. It is all about going out in that harvest. My vision for my apartment complex is to have a healthy church functioning right where I live.
I have met a young Haitian American who is 19 years old. I met him while he was skating through the Lake Worth area. We have met for 4.1.1. training at Dunkin Donuts. As that training was going on, a friend of his whom he hadn’t seen in a long while, came into the store. We asked her to join us and long story short, she accepts Jesus during our training time and we have an ocean baptism scheduled this week and then on Fridays, we will start church together.
Now, not everything has gone so smoothly. I have had people come across as yellow lights or green lights and setup for follow-up with them and they were no shows. This will happen but all you keep doing is continue going out in that harvest looking for the God prepared soil. It is all about the obedience to the going. God will bless the efforts and lead you to fertile soil.
I have also had so many opportunities to pray for people. There is a large homeless population here as well and I have spent time just sitting and talking with them and praying for them. For me, this is a segment of our population that I have always had a heart for. On Friday mornings, I have started meeting out by the waterway in Lake Worth and have connected with a guy named Rafi who is doing a Christian ministry there where he takes people who are struggling in many ways out on his boat and then has hamburgers for them. I shared with him the discipling ministry I am doing and he wants us to come together to help meet the discipling needs as well. So many opportunities out here.
There is also a strong new age influence here as well. I sat down for about an hour Friday sharing with a young man named Xavier who practices Reiki which is a Buddhist healing practice. He also reads Tarot cards for a living. I shared Jesus with him and hope to have more engagements with him. I have spoken with Muslims, Jehovah Witnesses, Hindus and other spiritualist groups and religions. It has made me much bolder in my witness and I have come to realize that people are seeking, but often looking within instead of looking to Him.
I have made connections with other Christian ministers in the area and we are looking forward to how God will bring us together to meet the needs of so many unchurched people in this area. The main focus is in planting churches in these communities. I would love to see churches spring up throughout this area. Churches meeting in homes, in parks, in coffee shops, under a tree, wherever. I would love to see existing believers trained to share the gospel in obedience. The most beautiful thing is that when one comes to Jesus, we don’t stop there. That is just the beginning. The discipleship time and training that then begins is what it is all about. We are multiplying disciples in response to Matthew 28:18-20 and we are doing it in a way that is reproducible.
I have also shed some tears. It seems to happen when I least expect it. I feel a burden in what I am doing and I also often feel inadequate. There is no patent way or method that one can just initiate and presto chango everything just falls into place. If you know me, I like steps and processes but I have learned that none of this works that way. It is about people and dealing with people is highly unpredictable. I have a few times had a course of action in my head just to have it change as things began to play itself out. But the great thing about it is that even this has become a freeing blessing. You just learn to trust and then adapt. Keep your eyes open to opportunities and just slow down so you don’t miss it. But living on mission will cause you to let go of a few things- mainly the tight reigns you may have on your schedule and your use of time.
So back to that contrast- beauty amidst brokenness. Here is the key.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.”- Isaiah 64:8
Transformation through Jesus has at least a couple of aspects. We are declared righteous through what Jesus did on the cross. We are reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 5:21. A broken relationship and the debt that we incurred because of it has been restored and settled. This is an immediate response to our trust in what Jesus has done. The other aspect is a continual ongoing one as we are being transformed through our daily walk and submission in repentance to God. 2 Cor. 3:18. The once broken is being restored through both an immediate and continual process. The potter takes the broken and reshapes it into a thing of beauty. So for me, I look out at where I live here in S. Florida and I see the contrast but I also see what God can do in His power to make all things new. Brokenness to Beauty. Our task is to be the messenger who goes out into the harvest to proclaim what He has done. I want you to meet some of the family that being out in that harvest has brought. Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”- John 4:35