Continued from Part 1, which you can find in the post written before the last two.
I would like to dedicate this post to my dear friend Bonnie.
It was around last February when our lives took a turn for the worst as my husband lost his job as a result of lying tongues, hearts that devised wicked schemes, false witnesses who poured out lies and men who stirred up dissension among brothers. Within the space of 24 hours our lives were truly turned upside down, and both my husband and I felt like two people who had been thrown into the sea during a stormy night of ferocious waves and strong winds.
Soon after we received the bad news, God placed Bonnie in our path, together with another person to whom I will dedicate another post in the near future. I got to know Bonnie through my blog and by reading hers. God brought together two people as only God could do and in His perfect timing. Ever since that first email we exchanged, we have been writing to each other regularly, and I dare to say we know quite a lot about each other, although we have never met. During this last year, Bonnie has been our “guardian angel”, for not only has she given us prophetic words, encouragement and prayer, but in the middle of her own battle against breast cancer, she has never failed to answer our cry and share Christ’s love and compassion with us. Now, that is what I recognise as selfless Christ-like love. Anything else is just empty words and vain attempts to ensure other people’s love and approval.
Bonnie, this one is for you
As I mentioned in Part 1 (two posts ago) of this post, for the last two years I had been feeling an increasing burden to stretch out my faith, to act out that faith, to impact with the Spirit of God and the love of Christ the lives of all those who, for whatever the reason, will never make it through the church doors. Most churches today seek to bring more and more people in, when in reality we are called to be apostles, the “sent ones”; we are called to step out of our convenience and to reach the needy where they are at, both physically and spiritually.
There has always been something in me which has reacted to anyone in our church attempting to recruit me as a “leader” or place me in a prominent role where there is always the temptation to lord it over the rest and to rein in the freedom that the spirit of the Lord brings into people’s lives to put into good use the gifts and resources which God has blessed them with in the first place. I have always shied away from becoming involved in those ministries or church environments which are understood or seen to be the most worthy of note or recognition. There is something in my spirit which strongly reacts to the notion that members of a congregation are to follow without questioning the prompts, agendas, or vision of one or a team of so-called “leaders” within a church. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, and any form of blind submission even if it is to those who are acting in the best interest of a church, quenches that freedom and ability for every single person to go out and become an intricate and essential part of the harvest. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” Jesus said, so when I sense the jaws of a controlling spirit fast approaching, warning lights start flashing in my spirit and I run back freely to the streams of LIVING water.
Because of my reluctance to become part of the church leadership and to elevate what they do above the service of any other Christian, I have often been accused of being overcome by the fear to step out and take on a leadership role within a ministry, when in reality, I was fighting the temptation to succumb to man’s fleshly nature which will often drive us to do things in order to be admired, praised, recognised and accepted by others. There is a huge price to be paid when you refuse to become an intricate part of the machinery that keeps a local church ticking: you become ostracized and alienated from the “accepted” majority, the very things that we are called to be known for not doing, but hey, if Christ thought we were worth that sacrifice, I am prepared to pay that price too. Over the years I have witnessed so many follow another person’s lead and counsel to go into ministries which they were not equipped or called by God to get involved in. The results can be disastrous for the workings of the Body of Christ: burnout, a sense of failure, guilt, bondage and ultimately, the inability to embark in all the wonderful things that God has in store for us.
With all that in mind, I have always remained in the fringes of our church, praying and waiting for God to reveal His will for my life, and because of that detachment, I have been able to come to understand the gifts and abilities which the Lord has bestowed on me; the vision the Lord, and not another human being, has for my life. And so, I started seeking, searching, praying about ways in which the Lord could use me to actually impact our community for HIS glory, but without having to conform to the rules and regulations of the church structure. Often in our church and I am sure in hundreds of others too, people hear the Lord place a specific burden upon their heart and they will put it to their “church leadership” only to have that Spirit crushed against a ceiling of opposition, objections and ultimately, the wish to control, which extinguishes the raw faith that blindly relies for provision and deliverance on God ALONE.
The Holy Spirit is often portrayed as a dove, and true to that comparison, it will often nudge us gently by giving us prompts and bringing into our life opportunities to serve. “Seek and you shall find” constantly echoed in my heart, and one day I came to hear simultaneously from two different sources about a local community initiative called Street Angels, which caught my imagination. I chose not to run it by my local church leadership, but to seek from the Lord whether this was an initiative in which I could be of any use. In my heart I knew this was the case, but often we will only get confirmation that we are on the right track, when we take that leap of faith and pursue the desire that the Lord of the Harvest has put into our heart in the first place. I googled the name of this initiative and I was able to find a contact number for the lady who together with her husband gave birth to the local branch of this wonderful Christian Initiative called Street Angels:
I made the call and arranged for this lady to come to my house and tell me more in detail about the nature of the work and the vision that her and her husband had for their local community. The moment we met and she shared of what they did, I knew instantly that I was living a moment which God himself had ordained in my life with precision and a purpose. It felt right, it felt natural and it felt exciting. Whilst during our chat I realised that becoming part of that particular initiative would not be possible due to the hours involved, she gave me the inspiration and the encouragement that I so needed to continue to pursue the desire that God had placed in my heart. I knew at that point that giving up was not an option and I also knew that having met that lady was an essential piece of the jigsaw in my journey of discovery of God’s vision for my life. Interestingly, now that I had no doubt that God was in this, I decided to share with two members of our church leadership how I felt God was leading me to the beginning of something exciting; something that would stretch me and others way beyond the comfort of the four walls of our church, but just as I feared, one of them tried to box me into a specific ministry within that initiative, which I did not feel at all called to pursue, and even went as far as mentioning to the lady in question about me and how he thought my gifts would fit into their initiative, and the other one expressed how though he strongly had felt called himself to lead our church into putting our faith into action, he candidly told me that I should apply my efforts to our very own immediate community first with a view to eventually adding more numbers to our church membership list. Please note that the initiative is based in a town only a few miles away from our village. If that is not man’s kingdom building, I do not know what is. Red lights began flashing after that and I decided to steer clear of both these people’s influence and counsel about my spiritual journey.
I did not get in touch again with the lady in charge of this initiative until about 6 months later when I received the next nudge from the Holy Spirit to continue looking for that next door which once opened would lead me into the next stage of my calling. Our Monday evening Bible Study group was by now in full swing and God was beginning to put a similar burden in the hearts of many in our house group. There was a general consensus that we were all too busy doing church but failing to actually be the church, and so to me that was the final push to get the ball rolling onto the path of “Faith in Action” . All members of our group agreed that none of the stuff we were learning and discussing every Monday evening meant anything, unless we were prepared to put that knowledge into practice and our full trust in God to guide us into doing something of any significance and impact on the kingdom.
to be continued in Part 3