Monday, April 07, 2008

Burdened Heart in a God way

My heart wants so much for my community. I love the people. I want the hopeless to find hope. Now they only dream for such a thing, but it could be a reality. I want the bored to find purpose. I want the trouble-makers to use their creativity and boldness in a positive way. I want the poor to know success God's way (not necessary to have riches, but just to have a contentment in having what God desires for them).

But most of all, I want them to have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Many have a ritual or a religion, but no relationship. That's sort of like saying you are a student because you go to a school building or because you have been assigned a locker. But you aren't a student unless you really learn, and you aren't really a Christ-follower unless you really seek Him.

I guess this is a strong thought today. A passion. Because of today's events. We have several friends who say they want something more in their lives regarding Christianity, and they are seeking, but they aren't ready to get invested into a spiritual decision yet because of what is clouding their minds and confusing them. Religion can be really confusing, but a relationship is so clear. Either your relationship is growing...or it is stale...or it is stagnant...or it is non-existent.

What we are finding here is that you don't even have to have been brought up in cultural or religious traditions to be steeped in them. It's just part of their being much like eating rice and beans every day. So, to them, it's about a ritual, such as asking when a loved one can be baptized or making the sign of the cross after praying. But a ritual isn't there for you when you feel you don't have a friend in the world-Jesus is. A tradition doesn't show up to visit when you've been given bad news, but God can comfort from the inside out. Baptism just gets you wet if it isn't symbolic of a transformation that has already happened inside.

Sunday night when we left our evening service, it was still light outside-at 7 PM. And we discovered at least six cars had been tagged with a magic marker with the sign of the North Side Latino gang. While we were inside studying about pre-believers (disciples before they met Christ) outside in broad daylight some members of a gang were marking cars. On some they wrote on the glass and others it was on the paint. We called the police, who knew exactly who did it. This is at least our 4th report of destructive behavior in the past 2 or 3 months. Interesting, one of the cars tagged was that of our county sheriff (his personal car). We aren't sure if others were tagged because some left before we discovered the graffiti.

We don't want to hate the ones who did's just an outward sign of an inward problem. The best part of last night was seeing our people smiling and finding a way to be lighthearted even though it was a serious situation. I told one, Brenda, with a beautiful smile on her face even though her car was hit the worst, how much I appreciated her attitude. She said, "I'm not going to let the actions of someone else affect my happiness. Only I get to choose that!" What a beautiful response.

It's a true calling and mission to be here. It's a LONGTERM investment of time because most will not enter a relationship with the Savior before they enter a relationship with us. Most won't trust the God we talk about until they know they can trust us. The changes won't happen overnight, but I have no doubt they will happen!


Joyce S. Oglesby said...

A gripping perception of the plight of communities everywhere. A lesson of true joy Brenda, obviously, lives. We are called to love the unlovely; not to excuse their actions but pray for their lack of understanding. Reflecting Christ in our responses to life is oftentimes our only means of reaching ones who might not have been taught His message in the home.

Vonda Skelton said...

Kathy, what a testimony to the body! What precious people--I can't wait to meet them!
I pray God's blessing on you and your church as you minister in His name!
Your sis...

Anonymous said...

"A tradition doesn't show up to visit when you've been given bad news, but God can comfort from the inside out."

What a great comment, K, and the entire article was a blessing to read. Keep up the good work!

Bettye L.