During December a number of things caught me by surprise. A family issue saw me dropping things to take my son on a mini road trip through our Snowy Mountain regions. Lack of cash over the Christmas period got me thinking and praying about paid employment and the need to provide more for my family; and a opportunity came up to apply for the position of a paid community chaplain in a more affluent area – a position which kinda got me extremely excited about.
However, a few weeks later and 2 days into the new year, I have come to the understanding that under God, I am in the right area where he wants me to minister. I love this area and I love the people I have come to call friends in this area. Certainly it can be a rough area. My peaceful time of relaxation in my lounge room on New Years eve afternoon was shattered through the sounds of angry voices reverberating from the bus stop across the road. A couple were fighting and yelling at each other. She louder then he. It didn’t take long to see that alcohol was the culprit, and most likely compounded by a cocktail of drugs. So my wife and I quietly stood on our porch praying for God to reveal his love to them and cover them with a blanket of peace.
That afternoon I read a friends status on Face Book saying he was a bit low, so I went and visited him. His youngest daughter came out to us as we were chatting and placed a young puppy in my arms. I continued to pat this little bundle of joy, pulling on his little ears, playing with his chin as I listened to my mate share not only about his struggles of life; but also his plans for the new year to put his family first. Today I visited another friend, whom I gave a lift into town. He is a rough man. Some would call him violent; though he has shown me nothing but respect. I would hate to walk in his shoes. Many of his experiences stem from life choices. But many of them stem from many life experiences which he had no control over either.
What is remarkable about both these men is that they are men of faith. Granted their faith is showing forth like a small seedling emerging from the compost heap of life. There is need for much healing. There is need for much growth. And indeed they have grown heaps. 18 months ago when I first met them, they wouldn’t say anything at our men’s meetings. They wouldn’t share about the scriptures we were reading. They wouldn’t join in with prayer. But for what ever reason it was – mostly to do with unconditional love and acceptance of them, they continued to come. Now, they are men who are less reticent to talk about faith. They are more willing to pray with us and for us as a group. They are more willing to read the word of God in private.And one can see a change of hope and purpose in their lives.
These guys are but a representation of the people in this area I have come to love. And so the other night I shared with my other friend about God putting on my heart to up the ante a little bit more and start meeting more regularly as a church. This is something he is interested in also. I keep reminding myself that the people Jesus gathered around him to become his first church planters were a odd and rough bunch of people. They were not the elite of society. They were not that respected within society. And so, if that was good enough for Jesus to send this bunch of people he loved into the world to tell them about him… I am more than happy to rub shoulders with those the Holy Spirit has brought my way to make his name known in this area also.
As for the need for finances…God knows all we need and promises to provide all we need as we go about doing what he has called us to do. And so once again, instead of thinking of lack – my faith abounds and peace and hope is the result that indeed, God has it all under control. And indeed, when ever I look back over my life, he has never let me down – even if I didn’t recognize it at the time.