I have long been deeply impressed with the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. Besides always having wanted my own army of flying monkeys, I have found terrific examples of the Kingdom, as Dorothy sought her way ‘home’. Recently I hearkened back to this staple illustration. I was asked to share with a congregation practical ways that they could be involved in ministry to those on the margins. At first I was glad for the opportunity to ‘toot my own horn’ but as I examined ‘my horn’ I recalled a scene from “The Wizard”. Dorothy and the gang were in the midst of their longed for encounter with “The Great and Powerful Oz’ when Toto pulled back a curtain to expose an all too human wizard. Through his microphone the Wizard continues “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
There is often a mystique surrounding ministry ‘on the streets’. People can elevate it to something beyond them and practitioners especially those, like me, who must raise their own funds, gladly accede. As an all too human evangelist working on the margins I was tempted to say “Don’t look behind the curtain!” What I do has no mystique. As I often say “It is not rocket surgery!” What I do is simply hanging out with people building wholesome relationships and letting those relationships dictate our activity.
The one issue that might keep people from engaging in this ‘simple’ and challenging task is that of personal safety. With this in mind I asked people to come and join us at our Friday Night Drop In and just sit down with our friends and play some board games. This provides opportunity, as my friend Jack says, to give folks “a good listening to!” We provide a safe venue for people to ‘dip their toes’ in this type of ministry. There are plenty of such safe venues if we seek them out.
Last Friday five folks from that congregation joined us and had a wonderful time. All of them left encouraged with their encounter with these new friends. I was able to spend longer times with individuals, giving them a good listening to, because I did not have to circulate as much as usual. Ministry went both broader and deeper as a result.
I firmly believe that though welfare and soup kitchens are necessary the only real hope in our community is found through relationship. Chiefly in relationship with the Lord but also importantly with His Body. Consider this an invitation to ‘look behind the curtain’ and realize that this is not ‘brain science’. Know that you can do this (because I can).
As we together engage in this relational business more and more of us will find ourselves at home in the Kingdom of God and after all “There’s no place like home!”
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