Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We're Fulfilling Our Purpose!

We're Fulfilling Our Purpose!
This past weekend I believe our church hit the "sweet spot" of what it means to be a missional church. Last Saturday from 10 am to 12 pm, we held a free single mom's oil change at O'Neal Village. We were able to change their oil, sit and listen to them as they waited on their cars, take down prayer requests and pray with them, and share the gospel with them. Their kids had a blast jumping to their heart's content in the inflatable. One lady named "Cissy" showed up with three kids. She told us she was homeless. Someone from our church felt compelled to give me $20 to pass on to her as her car was finished. As I gave it to her, tears began streaming down her face and she said, "Thank you!" That is being the church of Jesus Christ!
We received a card in the mail this week at the church office from Teresa Cheeks, one of the single moms from the oil change. She stated, "Church family, people like you keep hope and faith alive knowing there's still (the) love of God (from) people still loving and helping others. You really touch my heart. Thank you so much." 
On Sunday, I challenged people who were at our worship service to take a Panera sourdough bread bowl with them and go "bless" someone with it. Bill & Debbie Howell took two. With her permission, I'd like to share her story that she emailed to me Monday. It fired me up!
I officially met my neighbors across the street and one house down today - Patrick and Shirley H. They're a recently retired couple. Bill had met them quite a while ago and I have said "hi" to Pat a few times when I've been walking and he was out in his yard. Shortly after we moved in, Shirley issued a standing invitation to Bill to walk through their yard and use their dock for lake access anytime we want. Nice people.
A few weeks ago, our next door neighbor had told me that Shirley had recently been diagnosed with renal cancer and is in an experimental cancer program. Since that time, they've been on my heart and mind a lot. When I walk past their house on my evening walks, I pray for Shirley. I wanted to do something nice to show her I cared, but I'd never met her, hadn't seen them out for several weeks and didn't want to go knocking on their door to disturb them... yeah, I'm a coward!
Today at church, Pastor Tommy had a bunch of Panera Bread bowls wrapped with cellophane on a table by the door. He urged us to take one and give it to someone with no strings attached - just to show them God's love in a practical way - in keeping with our mission to be a bridge of God's love to all people.
Bill and I left at different times and each of us picked up a loaf of bread, not realizing the other had picked one up. I had in my mind to give it to one of Zach's friend's parents who spend every weekend sailing. I asked Bill to drive by their house on the way home so I could drop it on their doorstep and they would be surprised when they came home later today. As we neared their house, we could see that both cars were there. They had not gone to the lake this weekend and I got to personally deliver the bread - they were appreciative and pleased that we thought of them.
Now who to give the second loaf to? Bill had taken his with no person in mind and we had already delivered to the persons I thought of. As we neared our house, Bill saw Pat and Shirley out doing some yard work. Bingo... we had our person(s)! As soon as the car was parked in our driveway, we made a beeline.
Not only did I meet Pat and Shirley, but was able to tell her I had been praying for her as I walked in the evening. She hugged me.  What a blessing we got today... Shirley's attitude is the best I've ever seen for a person with terminal cancer. The cancer has metastasized to several places in her body, yet she is smiling and feeling good. Her experimental chemotherapy is not making her sick, yet has shrunk several of the tumors by 50%. She knows that even if the chemo kills all the cancer cells, this form is so aggressive that it will mutate itself into another form and pop up somewhere else. Yet I could see the hope in her eyes - she was not at all giving up. Wow - what a lesson for Bill and I when something in life gets us down. I believe God arranged for both Shirley and Pat to be outside today at just the time we came home. Perhaps if we had not stopped at our friend's house first and spent some time chatting with them, we would have missed Pat and Shirley. If Bill and I had left the church together, I know we would have taken only one loaf of bread and given it away before we got home.  Because of God's perfect timing and awesome planning, I made a new and wonderful friend today.
Thank you Debbie, for sharing your story. And thanks to all of you who gave of your time to serve single moms last Saturday. I look forward to hearing many more stories of God's people on mission with Him this summer. Oh, by the way, I'll have more bread waiting on you Sunday!
See you then!
Pastor Tommy