Friday, February 1, 2008

God's Work

"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." - Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted any stories on here. Although my lack of time to write has been no reflection on the amount of work we see God doing every week in Hollywood.

God has been so good to me in these last few months. I've had very few instances of feeling unmotivated, tired, sick, or any other reason not to go to Hollywood, as has so often happened in the past. I fought Satan on that for a while, but lately I lexpectantly ook forward to each Thursday. I never think about whether I will be tired or not, or what I feel like ahead of time. I just go, ready to see what God does and what paths he will lead us down.

We've had a few rainy nights and many cold nights when the streets are somewhat desolate and more quiet than usual. But it seems we can always find at least one person to talk to. Last week it was a man I've met many times before, who explained to us his journey of getting to know Satan right now. A Muslim man, he currently wants to know more about who Satan is and overcome fears of the unknown. He opened up more than many other times in the past when I have talked to him, and he was there again last night where people were able to pick up on the conversation with him and give him a blanket to keep him warm that night.

There have been too many other great conversations to list them all now...but the people we meet are fascinating and every week I go home thinking, "I love this." I love that God has given me a passion I never expected, and gave me the ability to something I never thought possible. I have prayed consistently for compassion, generosity, a genuine love for people, and a passion to make him known. And he has been growing that in me, and it's the best thing ever! I'm terrible at apologetics and talking about God with people...yet he allows me to do it each week, gives me words and the ears and discernment to listen and try to understand. I love that I get to see familiar faces every week, or every few weeks (depending on how often people come out). And I get to know people I would never get to know otherwise.

Last night I chatted with someone who previously I had a fairly heated discussion with about Christianity and religion and the bible. But last night we talked about his music production, his passions, and hip-hop music. It was a great, fun conversation, and through it I also met one of his friends. There's something awesome about building a relationship with a guy in a donut shop, being the only white girl in eye-sight and completely out of place, and yet talking about underground hip-hop and religion as if it's a normal situation. And we didn't even need to discuss God much, because this man referred to our previous religious discussion a few times and knows exactly where we stand. He just needs to see it lived.

After our church service, a group of us was talking to a man who we see almost every week. He's a great guy, an agnostic who loves socializing with us even though he is completely against our gospel message. But while shooting the breeze with him, I kept glancing into the donut shop that we were just outside of, seeing people I had never talked to, who were sitting alone with solemn faces on. God kept whispering to go in, think of something to say and enter into conversation. It took me a while, but I finally went in to talk to a young man who I had met briefly just moments before, through his friend who had just come to our bible study. It seemed like an open door as he sat at a table by himself, staring out the window. I recalled something I had just seen on a video about the Denver Rescue Mission - and which I had just gotten done discussing with a friend from ministry over dinner - that when people know someone cares and loves them, it can make a huge difference in their lives. Knowing that I didn't have to be brilliant, but could just care for this person gave me the push to go talk to him...with no great plans of what to say...

"Hey, where'd your friend go?" Was my brilliant opener. I expected a brief answer (which he gave) and then a cold shoulder. I hoped to maybe at least exchange a few sentences if nothing else, and begin building the relationship. And after those first few (where do you work, live, what are you doing out here? etc) it turned out he was entirely friendly and open to chatting. I was standing at his side, staring down at him completely awkwardly because someone he didn't know was sharing the other seat at the small table inside the crowded donut shop. But after a few minutes that other person moved, and I was able to sit with him and chat about general things, which eventually led to what I believe and what he believes, and his take on getting to heaven and assurance of an absolute truth.

I step outside of myself from time to time in these situatoins and think "who is this?" I'm a little shy, not very good at making small talk with random strangers who if I passed by in Englewood (where he lives...although why would I be in Englewood?) I would probably think was mean or dangerous, or would expect a dirty look being a white blonde girl completely out of place. I should feel awkward in these situatoins, maybe a little timid. But that's when the Holy Spirit takes over and gives me confidence that I would never normally have to make conversation about God with a complete stranger. To smile and joke around with someone who is essentially my complete opposite. And even better, He gives me the confidence and words to steer the conversation to Himself, and invite someone to think about their life, and about eternity. And it thrills me. I love it. Mostly because it's so unnatural for me, and yet I see God at work through me, using me for his purposes despite my shortcomings, like Moses and Gideon and so many more.

And now I can't imagine life without taking time to share Christ with others. This is how God teaches us as well, builds our faith, and brings us joy and undersanding and deeper relationship with him.

Greg Paul summarizes this well, telling his stories of people from the streets of Toronto, when he says, "As truth becomes something other than truth without love, and vice versa, I cannot recognize where Christ is present and the Holy Spirit is at work unless I am willing to be truly prsent as Jesus to someone, with all the peronal investment and vulnerability that imples."