On Epiphany 1967 I was set aside for ministry. After each of us candidates were ‘confirmed’. I was called up and as the bishop laid his hands on me he dedicated me praying for God’s special call on my life. Now he was not a very evangelical fellow but I was! This calling became a passion to see people come to a personal relationship with Jesus. Forty nine years later (seven groups of seven years) I am still working out that singular passion.
This is a hope that does not disappoint! I do not pretend that it is not difficult and can seem discouraging. Recently in a prayer time with our Street Hope gathering I was expressing my frustration with a guy who once was close to our group. He had made such strides and drawn so close to God. In recent years he has, I was going to say “slipped” but more accurately he has plummeted, back into unhealthy living. He has become abusive and disruptive! I was feeling a bit discouraged. Another of our group offered to be my Aaron,, by this he was referring to Aaron and Hur helping hold Moses’ arms up, in prayer. He was reminding me that the burden wasn’t mine to bear. He would stand with me and pray for our friend and love him even if I had difficulty doing that. With such an encourager I could not remain discouraged.
Often when we talk about injustice in the world we cry out for the Kingdom of God to break through. We continue to ‘act justly and love mercy’ all the time looking for the Return of the King. We persevere though society slips (plummets?) further into darkness. The light continues, through us, to shine in darkness and darkness cannot overpower light. This is the hope that does not disappoint! This hope keeps the Church encouraged in its call to be salt and light in the world.
It is this same hope that we must cling to in our evangelistic efforts. It is this same hope that I must cling to as I see a mass of people hurting one another not realising their spiritual poverty. My friend who was once so close is in terrible pain and in his pain he wounds others. Once under the lordship of Jesus he has descended to a feral nature. My discomfort and discouragement come because his plummeted state is a constant reminder of failure. But how can this be? Any success is not mine anyway and any failure need only be temporary. Jesus can and will make all things right!
We are very excited to begin our first purposeful evangelistic project. After several years of discipleship and several months of studying the book “Finding Your way Back to God”, Street Hope will be offering our very own 30 Day Challenge this March. We will be inviting folks (each of us is in prayer about who we may invite) to join us for dinner each Tuesday in March. We will be watching a video each night from Dave and Jon Ferguson, the authors of the book. The videos use the story of the lost son to teach about 5 Awakenings: Awakening to Longing, Awakening to Regret, Awakening to Need, Awakening to Love, and Awakening to Life. Each video includes the stories of modern day prodigals as they tell of their journey in their own words. We will have a short time of discussion and then each participant will be asked to pray a version of the prayer “God if you are real make yourself real to me” for the next 30 days. We start March 2nd so this will go on for the rest of the month.
After all these years of preparation we stand on the threshold ready to move from being recipients of God’s love into a new phase where we are actively serving others. Like Peter and John we do not have silver or gold but we do have the Good News of Jesus and we can encourage people to rise up and return to the Father.
Please pray for us, in this watershed moment. I believe we were called for such a time a this.