street church - Father's call

Welcome to my STREET CHURCH - FATHER'S CALL page

Here you will find clips from my blog postings about how Father called me to this church family of which I am delighted to be a part.  In my other pages you will find out more of my experiences.  And if you'd like to know even more about this part of Jesus' church, you can also check out the Another Chance website.

In December 2001, I was reading 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  
And I asked, "Father, what do You want me to know or do because of this Word? "  And He answered:

Love others, My child – with the love by which I have loved you! Love the unlovely – the lonely, the ill – the mentally ill, those who are misfits and different and unwanted – shunned – by the world. Love all the broken people, all the hurting, haunted, sad and lost and unclaimed ones. Lavish them with My love, till they turn to Me and I can wash them and heal them and make them lovely in My eyes.

I love them already – but they need your love, too – love they can see and touch and hear and feel. Let them experience Me through you. Share my love with smiles, and kind words and deeds. Hug them, listen to them, give them rides, feed them, clothe them, heal them. Open your heart – and open your home. Share the good news of My Son, Jesus, who died to make them lovely in My eyes. 
Trust me. I will provide and guide and fill all your needs. You just love them with My love. I’ll do the work in their hearts. Love them. Love them all with My love.
Over the following years, as I continued to raise my 5 children, and work, and live the life Father sent my way, I was slowly learning the lessons He had to teach me to prepare me.  I had all kinds of great ideas of how "I" could fulfill God's call, but as He had told me, I needed to learn to just love others with Father's love, and let Him do the work in their hearts.   And I also needed to learn, myself, how very great and unconditional His love is;  in fact, I needed to learn that "God loves me!"

Along the way, we moved to a new community in 2003.  As we moved into our new home, I prayed,

Oh dear Lord, I want our little home to become a lighthouse.  Lord, as soon as I saw our new home I saw it as the center - the spoke - of a mission field. I want my home to be a place where people will know the church meets there. I want people getting saved in my home. I want the doors of my house, and my life, to be wide open. I want my home to be a center of hospitality.  I want to go out into the highways and byways and compel people to come in to meet Jesus my Saviour.
As you can see, I was still pretty "I" centered.  Father spent the next few years working on my heart in many ways. I became a busy, active member of "a church," and was excited when my home was chosen as a site for a small group.  But within 2 or 3 meetings they decided my house was too small, and our family not suited.  I was broken-hearted.  It seemed like every activity I joined in the church didn't pan out.  I was very busy teaching at a Christian School for four years, but that didn't seem to be Father's plan for me either.  At one point I cried out,

God, You've given me such a vision. But right now it all seems impossible. And I feel like I want to curl up in a little ball and hide. I feel like I am a total screw-up. Like I'm no good at anything.  Doesn't God want to use me? I used to think I had some abilities. I've done lots of things and I thought I did them pretty well. But maybe I was wrong.  I wonder if other people feel the way I do?

I don't see why my house is "too small". Where I have lived before, this would be a very nice roomy house. The people here don't know anything about how native people have house meetings and wakes that go on for days at a time in tiny, beat-up old houses, and 50 or 60 people squeeze into a living room and kitchen and up and down the hallways, and they just worship God and comfort each other and help each other.

I guess it is totally another world to people here. I wonder what they think it is like in third world countries? Maybe God is just calling me to a part of society most Christians here don't know about, or having escaped it, don't want to go back

Sorry for all the tears, Lord. You do know my heart. And I do know You are in control, and Your timing is perfect. Amen.
The years went by.  For awhile, I was part of a Saturday night youth and young adult church service, where I ran a "cafe" and sold coffee and candy, and later added home-baked goodies like fried bread and pizza and baked goodies.  I loved doing that, but the church sold the building, and moved to a location without kitchen facilities.   So my husband and I opened our home on Sunday afternoons for "Sunday Soup."  Anyone could come by and have some homemade food, and fellowship.  I invited certain people - but mostly Father sent who He wanted:  lonely singles, lonely seniors, lonely students, families in financial difficulty.  I really loved Sunday Soup.  But my husband's work changed, and we had to stop doing that.  Still, a seed had been planted.

Throughout my life, Father had kept bringing people into my life that weren't the "church" people I'd been used to as a child.  I came to love being with people who weren't in-the-box. I learned to question my assumptions.  Sometimes, in my youth and young adulthood, I got involved in trails that took me far from Father, but He never gave up on me.  And He drew me back.   At one point, I wrote:

I always enjoy people who are counter-cultural. I've always wistfully wished I could be more counter-cultural. Well, I can. It's alright. Not only that, it's a must if I want to be like Jesus. He is the counter-cultural One. And the counter-culture He offers is the ultimate lifestyle. And yet, He promises it will be rare and difficult. And that is really so cool. I never really realized what a great thing this aspect of being a Christian should be. "Different!" Well, I want to be different. I've always wanted to be different. I long to be different. And here the ultimate "different" has been right here under my nose, free for the taking, all along, but I never really recognized it. Maybe I thought it was the status quo because I was "brought up in the church." But the radical life Jesus offers is really so much more than most "organized Christianity" chooses to follow or even recognize.

Oh Lord Jesus, please make me radical, different, counter-cultural, risk-taking, daring - for You! Thank You, Lord. Thank You dear Heavenly Father. Thank You, dear Holy Spirit. Please forgive me for all my sins and lack of understanding up to this moment, and fill me right now. Help me to hear Your voice, know Your thoughts, believe Your Word - and act out my entire life on it, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, God's Son.
Over and over, Father was teaching me, "“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.”  And my own priorities, my own heart, was changing.
I keep thinking of how we have so much… stuff, education, opportunities… when so many people spend their whole lives just surviving. What’s with that? “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Why are we given so much? Why do we have to learn to “let it all go”? (Yes, I know I must learn to “let God”…).  All those people with “nothing”…. Do they have dreams? Do they ever wonder if they are creating anything of value? Do other people in our society even care about that?
Father was teaching me over and over:  "For Me To Live Is Christ!"
All the striving to move up the ladder, to get to the top, to be number one, to be… a little god. It’s so wrong.  All that scrambling for nothing. Gotta let it go. No wonder I’m tired. You've made it impossible for me to do anything but just have to give it all up to You. Thank You for this lessons. I love You, Lord.
He was teaching me the difference before "our visions" and His vision:

Lord, the vision You would have for us is not really big buildings and large congregations and great schools and conferences with big-name speakers. Those so easily become things of the world. Lord, I hope there are good things that underlie our church's "vision"; things like bringing people to You, healing the world's hurt through You - but Lord, our vision sometimes looks frighteningly like the goals of the world, at least on the surface. Lord, as long as we have our eyes focused on these things and not on You, are we really following Your vision? 
And then at the end of 2007, Father and I were having a long conversation, and I was beginning to see where He was maybe leading me:

Hebrews 13:1-2 "Let brotherly love continue: Do not neglect to show hospitality (sweet!) to strangers."  (hmm… You keep planting that in my mind… all those hungry cold people out on the street… but is it safe? … and what would my family, even my "church family”? .. ummm.. I'm afraid some would say it’s foolish to invite “unsafe” people into your home (they might come back and steal… or never leave you alone (and make your house dirty and smelly…)…

Am I trying to squiggle free of something here? Are the implications of “hospitality to strangers” giving me cold feet? What do You want, I wonder? What would You do? Oh my goodness! I just started writing at the top of a new page in my journal – and what does it say there? – “a cup of cold water would be a gift to many people in our world.”! Now what is that? A coincidence? I don’t think so.

Oh Lord, I want to be a bearer and a sharer of many glasses of cool water… please show me how You want me to do that.   I have a feeling it doesn’t have to be complicated – but that once started, it may become a life-long passion that has to be followed through on, right to the end! Well, with You on the adventure, it will be worth it! And I can trust You to take care of the details! I can!

v.3 “Remember those who are in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body"  Now I think this has, in context, to do with fellow believers (but, of course, who knows how many believers there already are, or potentially might be, out there on the street, especially with this Pastor Peter guy I've heard about ).

Anyway, I’ve always thought of “in prison” as literal jails, and I’ve always been a bit nervous about that, too (seeing as those are places with “bad guys” …. But when Paul wrote it, the prisons were also full of believers – like he himself! … ).  But I was also just thinking… what about people imprisoned in so many other ways… by their own bad choices; by the enemy; by mental or physical illness; by addictions of the mind, body, spirit… and who are those who are ill-treated? This sure calls us to open our eyes, doesn’t it? Oh dear….and to step into and get involved – yes, down and dirty, in the mud, if that is what it takes to get face-to-face, and help lift them out by bringing them to You.
Oh Lord God! Your Word sounds so “brotherly love-y” on the surface, so sweet… but there is bitter times, trouble, sorrow… sacrifice… crucifixion, even, lurking underneath… and yet that is the path… the only path?... to true victory over sin and the enemy and all his forces, isn’t it? Oh my… I don’t think I’ve ever really seen that before…
Another year went by, but Father kept speaking to my heart.  And one day late in the fall of 2008, I was out for an early Sunday morning walk before "going to church"  (where I was becoming more and more uncomfortable for many reasons), and I saw a group of  street people huddled together around a beat-up old kerosene heater under some trees in the park, and there was this long-haired, tattooed guy cooking hot dogs on an old beat-up barbeque.  I'd noticed them before, but had always walked the long way round.  This time, just as I was about to take my usual detour, the blond guy hollered at me, "Hello!  God bless!  Come on over and have a hot dog!"  I was pretty nervous, but I sidled over, and he introduced himself:  "I'm Pastor Pete!"  He handed me a hot dog, introduced me to some of the folks, and started chatting to me about Jesus.

After that, I kept "going to church" for awhile, but at the same time I was turning up at "church in the park" every Sunday - just having to leave to "go to church,"  till Father freed me in His own surprising way, to participate fully in this gathering of His people - who were also reaching out to others around them.