Thursday, December 30, 2010

Redemption Songs

We recently enjoyed a wonderful Christmas celebration in keeping with the purpose of Jesus' coming - reconciliation.

We work with a large group of homeless here in Itu who come to our home once a week to shower, eat and get a change of clothes. Members of our church cook for this event, donate clothing, and a few come and help serve the ministry as well. I also work with a drug rehab clinic. This is a six month program brings to life individuals who are filled with death by the powerful mercy and love of Christ.

We wanted to bring together our church families, homeless, and the men from rehab so that the redemptive work of Christ could shine, so we threw a Christmas banquet! We cooked a great meal and decorated our church building for Christmas. Many church families signed up to come, two of our closest friends offered to sing during dinner... but I was pretty nervous about whether our homeless guests and the guys from rehab would show or not. I loved Ali's response though to this concern- "if they don't show up it'll just be like that parable of the wedding banquet - we'll go through the streets and squares and bring in whoever we find." I love this girl!

The guys did show up! They came to our house early to shower and get a fresh change of clothes. And I went to the clinic (which is in break now till January) and enough guys came back to load our Volkswagen bus.

At the church we had a great reception from our church members. They were anxiously waiting to meet the guys and make them feel like true honored guests. And the rehab guys were anxious to meet with our homeless crew, to share experiences and to let them know that they had been redeemed from some of the same traps, that there is hope! One of our guys from the rehab crew actually came out of our homeless crew and gave the example of a life changed to his old friends. He reminded them that this new life is available to them too, and Samuel seems to have really been inspired by this; he is wanting to start rehab in January now. Please pray that he continues to follows through on this!

Another result of this event is that a few members of our homeless community left feeling surprised by the warmth they were shown by a church, and wanting to be a part of this family. They have come back to the two services since this dinner, and further developed the friendships they found here. I want everyone to hear the message of Christ, this event highlights to me how ears are opened to that message when they experience the love of Christ.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrate Recovery

Every Tuesday night is Celebrate Recovery night. This is our support group which embraces individuals with destructive habits, traumas from dysfunctional lifestyles, etc. It is one of those places where I most clearly see the church being the accepting and redeeming force that it is called to be. Anyone can come in humility as they are to the God who forgives and restores.

We began today with a simple taking of communion. That is an element that I like to use, especially when an individual in the group is feeling like an unworthy outcast. It is a good reminder that the blood of Christ was spilt specifically for this purpose. We mess up, and God isn't surprised. He shed His blood so that the sin could be removed and we could come back as sons. The final scripture of the lesson was Ephesians 4:13 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Churches are intimidating sometimes. People who don't know the love of Christ define them as places where condemnation abounds. I am so thankful that we serve a God who is bigger than the need to condemn just to prove his own holiness. A God who came down to earth and got dirty in the process of providing forgiveness and new life to those who would humbly come and seek it.

There was a lot of pain on the table tonight. A lot of brokenness and darkness. But there was mercy too, and new hope.

These pictures were taken with our homeless friends. We regularly have communion with them on Sunday afternoons downtown.