First of all, THANK YOU, LORD! for an opportunity to die to self, to meet with Christ last night... to put ourselves & our agenda, fears & insecurities into Your hands, to step into foreign territory, banking on Your being there.
Secondly, church family, thank you! For those who have been preparing for weeks now, well done! The table decorations were beautiful. I saw lots of folks taking the printed Scripture table signs with them: a faithful declaration of God's Word! For those who cooked throughout the day, the meal was terrific! For those who setup and took down, for those who refilled drinks, served the food & desserts, loaded & reloaded tables & chairs, washed pots & pans, cleaned up the kitchen, moved & removed classroom equipment... "many hands made the work light." For those who kept looking throughout the night for more ways to contribute, for those who prayed at Head Start & others who did so from home... thank you, good & faithful.
Yes, it was packed, busy, difficult to move around, hard to engage in meaningful conversation, and just difficult to hear each other talk with 200+ big & little people gathered in a very limited space. We learned a lot about how we can improve next year's effors. But through it all, the Lord provided a good meal, God's Word, and already some fruit through your labors. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to minister with you.
The 5 minute message proved difficult for me. I felt like I was back in Cuba, speaking to a hundred plus people, without the assistance of a microphone, and with a bit less interest in our audience than in our brethren across the gulf. (The Lord is already providing direction for how the Gospel proclamation might be stewarded more faithfully in the future.)
However, immediately after my "sermon-very-ette", a man motioned me over. We talked about his family's struggles to find a church home. His wife was born with disabilities resulting from her father's physical abuse of her mother while she was pregnant. Unfortunately, they've struggled with "church people" poking fun at her disabilities. I'm grateful the Lord provided the opportunity to meet & talk with this family that--apart from your ministry last night-- I wouldn't have had otherwise.
From their table to the next, I met another family. Apparently, Eric Odenwald had befriended this young man & his wife back when they were a part of South Church. I was able to pass along Eric's contact info to this young father of three who was hoping to touch base with him soon. After some good conversation about his spiritual & physical struggles in providing & leading his home, we spent a couple of minutes in prayer together. Thank You, Father! I was gratefully surprised when, shortly before bed last night, I received this encouraging text from Eric:
And you are a blessing to this "least of these," church family. Thank you for serving me & many others last night. I know I refer to it often, but you've reminded me again of Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 4.5:
May the Lord be pleased to bear fruit to His glory through the many little seeds that fell to the soil through your loving, self-sacrificial service.