Ben and Heidi Sadler from Restoration Summit Fellowship have released a single from their band “Chasing Ebenezer.” The song confronts the sex trafficking industry. Congratulations, Sadlers and CE. May this song have a profound effect.
We call ourselves, “Refuge.” We meet in Milwaukie, just south of Portland. As a fellowship we became concerned about the homelessness problem in the metro area. It was evident to us that for the love of Jesus to be real we can’t just keep it to ourselves. It needs to be shown even to the outcasts of our society.
We knew about a ministry in the Gresham area called My Father’s House. It is a shelter in west Gresham for 28 homeless families that provides a safe place to live while they get back on their feet. Most families enter the program with nothing but a few clothes. While at MFH, they are provided with a private, furnished living space where they spend three to four months getting ready to live on their own. During this time they get training in job skills, parenting, budgeting and life skills, and are also given relational counseling and encouraged in their spiritual journey. Our part in this is small, yet important. Refuge has adopted one room for a year, meaning that, during the year, we provide three or four families with linens, cookware, dishes, and a few other household items that they can use during their time at My Father’s House and then take with them when they finish the program and move out on their own.
The first family in our room was a mother with three children. They
had been forced out of their home due to an abusive relationship. According to Cathe Wiese, the Executive Director of MFH, this mom was very motivated to provide a stable situation for her kids. She was eager to take part in the classes and willingly accepted the mentoring that was provided. In addition to outfitting the room, we were able to pray for the family while they were at MFH, that they would heal emotionally and experience Jesus’ unconditional love.
In addition to adopting a room, several in our church are participating in a community work day at MFH, doing cleaning, sorting donated items, landscaping and painting. Not only will this spruce things up a bit for spring, it gives us an opportunity to work
alongside residents and show them Jesus’ love in a visible, tangible way. Matthew 25 tells us that by serving the least, we are actually serving God. Can we do anything greater for His kingdom?
Several years ago, I was encouraging a middle aged couple to host a Bible study in their home. They asked if I was planning on coming. I said I wasn’t. They were clearly hesitant, uncertain they were qualified to host the study. I asked them how long they had been Christians and attending the church. I don’t remember their exact answer, but it was decades. Then I asked them how much longer it might take for them to be qualified. If it were decades more, they might die before they were ready.
As it turned out, they agreed to host the study and, even after I left that church assignment, the group in their home continued. Truthfully, the group wound up being less of a study and more of a Jesus community. I don’t know about you, but I call that church.
When Will You Graduate?
Let me ask a question: When will you graduate from church? What I mean is, how many years of attending services and listening to sermons will it take to qualify you for ministry? Four, as it takes for many college degrees? Six? Ten? Twenty? For the twelve disciples it took three (and being filled with the Spirit). So, how many more years before you strike out with a few others and live the gospel of the kingdom?
What’s holding you back? You don’t know enough. What? Haven’t you been listening all these years? Haven’t you been filled with the Spirit? And, admit it, haven’t you wondered if there wasn’t more to the Christian life than just teaching and being taught? Haven’t you yearned for a faith that was a bit more—how can I say it—exciting, even risky? Anyway, don’t you know enough experienced Christ-followers that you can run to if you get in over your head? And, of course, you do have the Bible. There’s lots of practical advice about kingdom living in there.
Come on. It’s nearly June. Lots of graduations in the next couple of months. Kids moving on with their lives. What about you? Isn’t it time to graduate? Stop just going to church. Be the church.* You don’t need permission for that. Jesus already granted it. What you need is courage.
More to follow…
* Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you must leave your present fellowship. We hang out with some really cool “real churches,” in addition to the house churches. I’m just saying you may need to spend less time there. Moreover, if your present church is more interested in keeping you coming to services than releasing you to do the work of the ministry, then the leadership needs to review their job description (Ephesians 4:12). Just saying…