True Church

Do we minister “to” the poor, despised, destitute and abandoned…

Or do we open our lives to each other, in mutual ministry one to another?

circleDo we have programs “for” the poor, despised, destitute and abandoned…

Or do we open our tables to each other, in mutual fellowship one with another?

Do we “go” to the poor, despised, destitute and abandoned…

Or do we hang with each other, in mutual friendship one for another?

Do we “fix” the poor, despised, destitute and abandoned…

Or do we need each other, in mutual humility one with another?

The world has good intentions, rooted in “them” and “other”…

True church has community, rooted in “Christ” and “us”.

Don’t be the world…

And call it “church”.

~ Jim

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12 responses

  1. So many times u have to be a round peg fit into round hole type regime in church especially & end up disillusioned & actually feel worse than u did before just not for yourself but all others not fitting into that round hole.

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    • As a missionary in Honduras, I have been learning to have boundaries. It’s been a hard lesson, but many of the poor people that we have worked among have lied to us and stolen from us while still calling us friends. There is a saying here that if you don’t mistreat your maid , she will rob you. Well, we of course do not mistreat our maid (right now we don’t have one), and we hate the Latin American caste system. We want our poor friends to eat at our table. But it’s hard, because of the treachery. In December we took a boy into our home because his mother abandoned him. We have been loving and feeding and clothing and praying with this kid for six months, and the other day he stole some things and left. This is not the first time someone has done that. What do you think our response to this type of thing should be, Jim?

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  2. Some years ago, I worked as Children’s Church director of a large church that also had a bus program. Some of the church leaders declared almost all of the church plant strictly off-limits to ‘bus kids’. There had been no incidents, but they did not want the bus kids to mix with the church kids.

    Somewhat later, there was a poor mother with a couple of older children who wanted to attend our church because they loved our regular church services. For awhile, they were allowed to ride the bus that came through their neighborhood, but then they were forcefully encouraged to attend our tiny mission church that was closer to them because it was the ‘same thing.’

    I found these things to be upsetting and I finally left my position to work in one of our missions, and then I left the church completely.

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  3. Kathy,

    I understand your desire to have boundaries. For sure Kathy.

    Believe it or not I find myself quite often in similar circumstances in that I am living as a homeless man in San Diego. While the homeless here are not the same as the poor in South America in my opinion they are similar in that your things will tend to get stolen sooner or later.

    From a worldly standpoint there is wisdom in having boundaries with such folks.

    But I have to ask myself.

    Did Jesus have such boundaries??

    Did he not give and give and give until it hurt?

    Is He not the one who said that if someone wants to take your tunic give him your cloak as well?

    To not resist an evil person?

    To have our treasure be in heaven where neither moth or rust or thief can break in and steal?

    I think we Christians too often gloss over what Jesus said and the model of life He lived to do as the world does when dealing with those who might steal and otherwise abuse us.

    That is the primary reason that Christians don’t invite the homeless into their homes. Why they don’t allow them into their lives and get involved, I mean really involved in theirs. Instead it has become acceptable in the Christian world to simply give out handouts for a couple of hours a week at some homeless feed and then go to one’s home and get back to the good life one lives while the homeless continue groveling about trying to find places to take showers, park (for those that live in their vehicles), and otherwise survive.

    Somehow I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind.

    I mean where Christians “give” when it is convenient to give and then live as though this life is all there is the rest of the week.

    I do not mean at all to say that you are doing that Kathy. By virtue of being a missionary you are doing more than 99% of the so-called Christians I would say.

    Of course our model for how we ought to live is not all the other so-called Christians but Christ.

    I am simply questioning whether the natural desire to keep our stuff safe by protecting ourselves from those who would rob from us is a desire the Lord would have us live our lives around.

    If I read the Word objectively without bias I am left with the belief that Jesus Christ lived His life with such confidence in His Father that He didn’t care whether or not anyone stole something from Him (observe how He dealt with Judas who He knew stole from the money box).

    His Father would and did provide for Him no matter what anyone did to Him or took from Him!

    That is the attitude and mindset I think the Lord would have us embrace Kathy.

    That does mean that yes…we will lose out in this life but at the same time I think there is also freedom there. Freedom to live as though God the Father truly is watching out for us and truly will take care of us.

    I have struggled with this myself.

    But I have learned some things along the way. I sleep in a tent. That tent is set up in the woods where anyone could come along any day and steal whatever I have. When I walk to my camp at night I never know if my sleeping bag and tent will still be there (it has been there for me for over a year – praise God!) There is no lock. No security system. No watch dog. No nothing. Just walk in and help yourself.

    Sometimes I struggle with that just a bit.

    But not often.

    The Lord is helping me trust Him. That He is powerful enough to keep thieves away if that is His will and willing and able to help me if they take all my stuff.

    I take precautions (I have some back up stuff hidden in the woods). I don’t leave things like my laptop in my tent. I pray for God’s protection over my stuff every day. But there is only so much I can do.

    In the end I, and every other Christian I think, has to make the choice to live for eternity and not this life. To give up our attachment to the things of this life that we might more freely and adequately love our neighbors as ourselves and as Jesus would have done.

    We cannot serve two masters.

    Either we live for Him with all we are and all we have laid at His feet to do with as He wishes or we live for ourselves, holding on as if for dear life to the things we possess and value in this life.

    We cannot do both.

    Carlos

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      • Howdy HisWillIAm (quite the name you picked for yourself there :))…

        It’s odd how the Internet makes us so willing to share our stories with relative strangers. One would think that with the NSA snooping and the loss of privacy that we are experiencing in the U.S. that we would have a tendency to be all private and unwilling to share about our lives but…well…if I don’t share I won’t partake of whatever the Lord might want for me to enjoy, fellowship wise, through the various blogs I am on so…

        The first time I became homeless was in Florida. Sometime around 1995 (can’t recall exactly – don’t have my journal in front of me just now).

        I had led someone to the Lord that was about to be kicked out of their apartment. With tears and in what seemed like apparent deep remorse over sin this young man gave his life to the Lord in my presence.

        What was I, a Christian, supposed to do?

        I invited him (a relative stranger) to come and stay at my two bedroom apartment.

        All went well until early one night…I heard…well…various sounds coming from his bedroom. Come to find out he was inviting nurses over to get to know them better (he was young and handsome and they reciprocated his desire to get to know them better).

        The next morning I made it quite plain that he could not be doing that kind of thing in MY apartment and inquired as to whether he was aware of what giving his life to Christ was all about.

        He had not quite grasped what surrender to Christ was about and had all but “become” a Christian in an apparent belief that “adding” Christ to his life would make things better for him. In other words he had not really surrendered at all.

        A few days later there was a disturbance in the parking lot and he pulled out a gun and stuck it in his pants under his shirt and went out to the parking lot to see if he was needed somehow :).

        Okay…that was about all I could take. He had to go but…well…he didn’t want to.

        I tried to go to the landlord but it was too late. The landlord considered him part of the lease in that he had been paying me half the rent.

        Again…as a Christian what was I supposed to do? Get into a shouting match with my roommate? Call the cops on him and report his immorality or perhaps accuse him of potentially having an illegal gun?

        So I moved out of my own apartment!

        I could not stay and be responsible before God for his sin.

        To make a long story short (some of what happened next is quite astounding but it would take too long to describe here)…I eventually got it into my head that I would go and live at the rescue mission and save rent.

        While there I was having a great time talking to people there about the Lord (and undermining the baloney that was being forced down people’s throats in the name of Christ – there were so many who faked being Christians there). About a month into staying there the powers that be there gave me two days to move out as I was just not mission material LOL. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t cuss. I didn’t drink, had no sex outside of marriage, etc.

        What was I supposed to do?

        I bought a tent and started camping in a secluded spot way out in the boonies where I had often gone to pray and spend time with the Lord.

        That was my first homeless experience.

        I eventually got back into an apartment, headed to Canada to meet a potential wife, got married, and in the midst of real struggles with my wife relationship wise…I moved into my Suburban truck (which I had previously outfitted with a bunk bed as I had hoped to head to Texas – get rich from window cleaning and have my wife come live with me in the States).

        First night I went and slept in a Walmart parking lot. That was nerve racking. Will anyone see me? What if they come out and tell me to leave? Etc.

        I lived in my truck for something like three years in the middle of Canada and through the bitter winters. That was something.

        Eventually my radiator developed a leak and like a dummy I kept filling it up with water as winter approached. Well…it froze. Then to add to my foolishness I figured that I would simply run the engine hard in place so that the heat from my engine would defrost the water.

        The water did not unfreeze. Instead my radiator literally blew up!

        And with it there went my bed and my truck. Oh I still had it but as the days wore on the inside of the truck become one big, freezing cold ice box with the frozen condensation from my breath all over the inside of the truck.

        Someone had hit my truck a few months previously and the insurance company gave me $1000 which allowed me to make it to San Diego (that itself was an AMAZING story – the Lord actually spoke to me about coming to San Diego and opened the way for me to come).

        For the first year and a half here I traded work for rent (I did computer work as a web developer) and made it all the way up to Poway (old money all over the place there – rich, rich area). But my gig ended and again what was I supposed to do.

        I had been getting a room for work but no money.

        A couple of weeks later I bought a bus pass to head to San Diego (my knees were TREMBLING – I was so nervous) to start the homeless lifestyle.

        This last time I have been homeless for about 3 years now.

        I’ve known the Lord since 1978 when I surrendered my life to Him.

        Carlos

        PS. Jim I hope you don’t mind my long comment but it’s not often anyone asks me how I became homeless and well…I figured it might give some background to some of my comments here as well as make for some interesting reading LOL.

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        • Thanks for sharing. It really blessed me. I’ve gone through seasons of homelessness, myself and could recognize some of your perspectives. I’d love to hear more about your walk, as I find myself missing that time of my walk sometimes.

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  4. Thanks, Carlos. You, in so many ways, are like my closest friends – who have experienced and would say exactly what you have expressed. I need them, which is the point of my blog, more than maybe others think they need me. While being discerning about folks with obvious exploitive intentions, I have to be vulnerable to allow them to become part of my life.

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  5. Thanks to you too Jim!!

    You are an example to me bro. Of standing up for what you think is right to do by God no matter what!

    Men like you are in very, very, very short supply.

    Carlos

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