Sunday, June 17, 2007


A few weeks ago at church, our pastor Mike Erre spoke of being a community of ministers. The pastors of a church, the staff at church, these are not the true or only ministers; they are not more special or unique than those of us sitting in the congregation. Just because they are gifted in specific ways does not mean that they are the only ones that should be preaching, or sharing the gospel or doing church. Congruently, our church repeatedly emphasizes how the church is not a building or a place, and we should never restrict ourselves to the walls of our churches, or Sunday mornings.

This Thursday was very good evidence and demonstration of these concepts. Almost every week, Broken Hearts holds a bible study at midnight in front of a Laundromat with whomever chooses to show up off the street that night. Here, we are ministers. Sitting on the sidewalk with cochroaches crawling around and clubbers yelling on the streets, we hold church and fellowship.

Jesus was there this evening, working in maybe one or two lives specifically. We only had 3 visitors, one who wasn’t really a part of things, but was interested enough that he stood off to the side drinking his coffee and trying not to be nosy, but listening to the whole message and small group sessions. Another was our friend Frankie, who hangs out with us almost every Thursday. Another was man named “Bill” who some of the team had met earlier. He was pretty much wasted at the time, and though Greg had bought him food earlier, he still managed to have money to purchase a large bottle of beer. So, he reclined on the sidewalk, drinking and intermittently breaking into a rap about something in the bible. Or, if it wasn’t about the bible, it was expletives about Jesus or Christians, or something else that was very difficult to understand through his slurred speech. Matt spoke about a passage in John about Jesus being the shepherd and us the sheep, and all of the wolves that are out to get us. About halfway through, Bill wandered off with his beer and we didn’t see him again.

Following the message this week, we broke into two groups to ask for prayer for specific challenges and worries, etc. We were intentional in being genuine in this, so that church on the sidewalk looks the same as in a building. And by doing so, our visitors also see us being real and honest about struggles and sin and may feel more safe to be vulnerable as well.

Church is interesting to do on the streets, with cuss words flying out of people’s mouths as they walk by, having to pretend you don’t hear a ranting visitor, and trying to stay focused despite all of the distractions, cars and partyers walking by. Though it may be an unusual location and procedure, the Holy Spirit is still there. And perhaps God was most available to Frankie this night, because He met us on the streets where he’s comfortable, and not in the warm, fuzzy, standard church sanctuary full of people knowing all the songs and having the right things to say.

I witnessed something that I never expected to see, not any time in the near future anyway. But of course, it is so easy to limit God and expect less than what he can truly do. Maybe he had to use a rough year, a stint in prison, a drug addiction…but he began to break down Frankie. Normally so bubbly, dancing around and distracted by getting business, I was not used to this person who seemed upset, depressed, down and unmotivated. He sat on the sidewalk and talked about some of his pain, more honestly than I would have ever expected to hear from him. Tired of the life he’s living, tired of the attitude from other “girls” on the street, no longer enjoying the physical pleasures that he’s paid for, tired of getting in trouble, drugs, etc. Several people discussed with him the idea of going into a Christian rehab program, but he was very hesitant. So we worked through his obstacles – his pride getting in the way, and more that this life is his identity: “this is what I know, this is what I do” he explained. If he leaves, who is he? What will he do? He’s comfortable here, he's familiar with this life.

I understood listening to him just a little bit more of why the news that Jesus loves us and died for us is “the good news”. Sometimes it sounds so contrite; or we get caught up in simply converting people over to our side. But this person truly needs to know the love that his creator has for him – that anyone has for him. And I wanted so badly for him to understand, to accept it, and to believe that he can be more. I’m not sure what happened after that, because I had to go home.

On our way, we caught a glimpse of Precious, another transvesitite prostitute we had met a few weeks ago. This was another awesome moment of the night, because he didn’t have his hair done or make-up on, and was dressed in regular clothes, and not as a woman. He told Jennifer that he’s trying to change, which again was shocking and wonderful to hear.

Besides that, we didn’t have too many interactions with other people throughout the night, just a few short conversations. But those two moments made it, in my mind, one of the most exciting and successful so far. People are making slight changes, perhaps God is softening and breaking their hearts. Of course, for me, I have only known Frankie a few weeks. But the team has known him for probably about a year, and he’s been a prostitute for a year and a half. So this change is a long time in the making, and may not even be a full turnaround any time soon. But any indication of future change or a desire to change, is massive in this environment. And in His time, God will bring about new life in these people if we continue to be willing vessels and demonstrate his love and power.

God is good...he does not require a temple or church building, loud praise music or 3 point sermons. We are a community of ministers, and we can be pastors and teachers and leaders whovever we are and wherever we go.

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