Church at the Lab

Yesterday a group of precious teen girls and I commiserated about the difficulty of sharing our faith with a world that is easily offended. “I don’t really talk about my faith with my friends at school. I just don’t know how.” One by one, each girl confessed their struggle to share God outside of the church. I, being 30 years older than most of the girls, agreed. It’s a challenge in a world so consumed with the possibility of offending someone.

Walking into the lab this morning, I saw the room filled with people such as myself. Some did not appear ill and others visibly weakened by whatever ailment they had. But, even those who looked healthy, had a story. They were at the lab so a doctor or a team of doctors could meticulously check their blood for any abnormalities. Each person was either entering a trial, in the middle of one, or possibly just coming out of one.

And, right there in that dark lab, God planted one of His saints. God opened my ears to a man who’s vocabulary only included his faith.

“I see a miracle happening here!”

“God’s doing something in you.”

“I think He’s healing you.”

“Oh, it’s going to be good.”

In the cold, sterile, underground lab, I attended church. Along with about 50 other  patients and lab technicians, we heard and saw faith lived out.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I didn’t receive a church bulletin. But I was definitely welcomed.

There was no group prayer. But prayers were being uttered.

No worship songs were sung. But worship was heard.

No Bible to be seen. But God’s word was being shared.

We were in the Lords house. Simply because one saint chose to live out his faith with every breath, every word spoken, every interaction he faced.

He didn’t speak anything profound or even planned. Yet it was purposeful and prophetic.

He simply included his faith in his everyday life. His faith was his life and there was no hanging it up at the door upon entering his workplace.

I thank God for showing me this saint in the middle of the bleak weariness of the lab. I thank God for the practical example of living out faith.

“Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1: 22

Lady in the Yellow House

this-old-yellow-houseWeek after week, my prayer list held the same phrase, lady in the yellow house. This is God’s story of how God brought love to the inhabitants of the yellow house.

The rain had just started as we continued on to the last few houses we had on our route for the day. Mikayla, my 11 year old daughter, clutched the flyer which shared the information about our church’s Thanksgiving outreach. Our heart was to make sure every family living in our church neighborhood had a Thanksgiving meal.

We rounded the corner on the sidewalk that led to the yellow house. There was commotion in and around the house, but we walked up confident of the love we had to share. Mikayla knocked on the door and a scowling woman answered the door. I began, “Hi, I’m Lisa and this is my daughter, Mikayla. Our church…”

“No! No! No! Oh no. Leave me alone! Get away from me!” the angry woman yelled at us. Throwing the flyer down in an outrage, she slammed the door. I had no words to say. Mikayla was shaking and crying

I’d like to say compassion filled my heart, but that was not my immediate reaction. As we walked away in stunned silence, I couldn’t just let it go. I reassured Mikayla that we were not doing anything wrong, that we were okay, and that everyone else had been loving and gracious to us on our mission. But, my heart remained on that woman. I just wanted to tell her our purpose. If only she knew that we weren’t asking her for anything at all. Not inviting her to church. Not asking for a donation. Just wanting to bless her with a free meal.

Before I could think any further, she emerged back out of her door. Okay, God, here I go again. “We just wanted to ask if you need a Thanksgiving meal,” I call to her before she has a chance to shut us out again.

“You get away from me!” she screamed at us as she headed to a neighbor’s house.

Well, that was that. We would not be talking to the lady in the yellow house that day. The rain came down heavy now and our route was complete. Time to head back to our car to soak up the heat and rest our tired feet.

Why did God have us go to her door? Did any of the love we had to share break through to her at all? Discouraging questions ran through my mind, until I began praying for the lady in the yellow house.

I prayed that God would soften her heart:

Ezekiel 36:26,  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Although I didn’t see her after that day, God brought her to my mind almost on a daily basis. I waited on the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, but in the meantime, I prayed.

Distribution day came. It was an amazing day. Families piled into our church. Greeted by our Pastor. Given mochas, hot chocolate, muffins, cookies. Families were prayed for. They were each given a full bag of food containing the side dishes for a Thanksgiving meal, a huge pumpkin pie, and a gift card to buy a turkey. My daughter even set up a table full of books and stuffed animals for the kids to take.

In all, we had 107 full meals to distribute that day. It was thrilling to see how the Lord worked to bring the families there and how He worked through those of us who were willing and eager to be used by God.

At the end of our scheduled distribution time, we still had several meals left. I knew where one of the meals was going. I always knew that I would be making my way back over to that yellow house. No words would be needed this time as we were holding a beautiful pumpkin pie and a large bag of food. She couldn’t turn us away today.

Mikayla joined me as we walked up the familiar sidewalk and rounded the corner to our destination. There was a younger woman sitting outside the door to the house. Not the lady we had encountered on our first trip. She was sitting down in an old lawn chair, crying.

“Can I talk to her, mom?” my daughter asked me. “Yes, of course,” I replied.

“Would you like this Thanksgiving meal?” Mikayla asked the distraught young woman.

“No,” shaking her head, keeping a steady look toward the ground, quickly discarding her cigarette.

Oh, dear woman, if only you knew, we don’t care that you were smoking. We want to love you.

“Well, do you know anyone that could use this meal?” I ask her, while motioning at the pumpkin pie like one of the ladies on the Price is Right.

“Well, you are starting to convince me to take it.” Looking up from the ground, her red rimmed eyes met mine, “But, why? Why would you do this?”

“Because we love you and Jesus loves you so much…” I could barely get the words out before she was standing and leaning in towards both of us, hugging and sobbing against us. She cried hard. “Can I pray for you?” I asked. Big nods from her head assured me we were not going to be turned away this time.

“What is your name?” I asked. All those weeks, I longed to know the name of the lady in the yellow house.  God had clearly brought us back to this house for a purpose and her name was Kristina.

I prayed for Kristina as she continued to hug us and cry. Amen, so be it, Lord. May she find peace in you. Hope in the death and resurrection of your Son. A fountain of love in your plan and purpose for her life.

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She wiped her tears and then her heart softened. “You guys don’t even know,” she poured out her deep sadness, “my mom died on this exact day 3 years ago,” choking on her tears, she continued on. “And, I just talked to my dad and he’s been having strokes lately.”

This, Lord, is why you brought us here. 

“The Lord loves you so much, Kristina. He sent us here to tell you that.”

Laughing and shaking her head, she asks, “Where did you guys even come from?”

Mikayla explained that we came from the church down the road. We had no other explanation to offer her other than God loves her so much that He sent us to her in her desperate time of need.

Kristina was not at all forgotten by the Lord. He saw her tears. He knew she was hurting. And, He saw fit to use Mikayla and I to reach her.

There is nothing like that in all of the world. Knowing the Creator of the Universe chose to use us in that brief little moment in time to help bring comfort to a hurting soul. There is also nothing like being the recipient of God’s love when we are in need.

For a brief period of time that afternoon, all was right in the world in front of the yellow house. There was a need. God was completely aware of the need. There were God’s children ready to be used. And, the need was met. Beautiful.

Oh, God, thank you for your beautiful plan for Kristina. Thank you for loving her so very much. Thank you for using Mikayla and I to demonstrate your love to her. Please help us to see the needs in front of us and step forward in obedience with You. Amen. 

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Blessed One

 

I saw you dear Christian. Hesitant to speak.  Concerned over words and reactions.  Uncertainty growing into a willingness to yield. Obedience followed by excitement.

I saw you desperate mom. Working hard each day. Little sleep, little reward. Pouring out your heart to the stranger at your door. Feeling love and less loneliness.

I saw you bold children. Fearlessly approaching doors. Knocking with vigor. Talking to strangers. Praying with God’s people. Learning to serve with love.

I see you dedicated servant. Skimping so that you could buy food for the hungry. Bagging up meals.  Greeting families. Loading and then unloading 100 pumpkin pies.

I saw you faithful Pastor. Leading the church. Selflessly serving the people. Working behind the scenes. Giving of yourself.

I saw you hungry family.  Humbly admitting your need. Reaching out for help. Surprised that God heard your prayer. Genuinely giving your thanks.

I saw you Holy Spirit. Leading the hearts. Filling the bodies. Supernaturally guiding the ministry.

I saw you Heavenly Father. Meeting the needs. Providing for your children. Teaching us  to sacrifice.

I saw you and I was the one who was blessed.

Read more about our outreach and consider reaching out in  your own neighborhood:

Who Will Knock on Her Door?

The Answer is Jesus

Missed Opportunities

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Who Will Knock on Her Door?

If we truly believe that Jesus is the path to Heaven, the direction to everlasting life, and the route to eternity, then how can we keep that news hidden?

We live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, and many houses crammed into not a lot of space. It’s conducive to door-to-door sales and religious missionaries. On a weekly basis we will have high school fundraisers, people promoting their extermination businesses, or others expressing their faith at our doorstep. Many times we don’t answer the door. But, at times, we do. We hear their spiel, kindly reply, and then go about our day.

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What makes this a cut and dry process for us is that we are not searching. We are not wondering how to donate financially. We are not looking for the best way to rid our house of pests. And, we are not searching for something or someone to fill the role of Lord of our lives. 

But, many are. You can’t go outside without coming across a lost soul, looking for meaning for their life. People are searching for wisdom. They are in need of purpose. They lack direction. In general, they are lost.

During our Thanksgiving outreach (read about our outreach here: The Answer is Jesus and Missed Opportunities) the other day, I met a beautiful woman who seemed to be just waiting for someone to come to her door. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon. Our group had been murmuring about whether anyone would actually be home at this time of day. Most people would still be at work, so we’d probably just be leaving flyers at the door and not actually get to speak to many people face to face.

Knocking on the green door, my mind wandered and my hands began to wrap up the flyer to prepare it to be left in the door jam. Suddenly, a small woman somewhere around my age, opened the door.

Thankfully my mind went into automatic mode and I began my phrase, “Hi, my name is Lisa. We are putting together some Thanksgiving meals. If you or anyone you may know is in need of a meal this Thanksgiving, you can call this phone number here, and we will set you up with a meal.”

She replied with a slow, “Oh, okay.”

Switching out of automatic and into being led by the Holy Spirit, I say, “Do you think you may know someone who may be in need?”

She looks me straight in the eye, “Yes. Me. I am in need.”

She went on to explain her situation of working a full-time job, being a single mom, receiving no child support, and struggling to feed her family. My role was to listen. Really listen. Hearing her pain. Loneliness. Fear. Fatigue. Need. 

I sympathized with the incredible burden she faced and then I offered her more than a meal. “Can I pray for you?”

“Yes. You can.”

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I prayed for her and her boys. I told her I really hoped to get her call and then to see her again. I offered a few more words of encouragement and then left.

As I walked away, I prayed that her heart would be open to receive the truth. That she would know she is so loved. That God knows her struggles. She’s not alone. That she can receive forgiveness of her sins and a life of freedom, as well as eternal life with our Savior. I thanked God that she was open and receptive to the truth. I thanked God that He had orchestrated that moment for her path to cross my path. 

I couldn’t help but remember the precious woman my daughter and I met during an outreach in Mexico who cried overwhelming sobs because she had prayed and been given a vision of Americans coming to her door to pray with her. And, then, less than an hour later, we, a group of praying  Americans came to her door step! “Gracias, Senor” she kept repeating to our Lord.

As Christians, we are aware of our sins, and we believe and know that Jesus forgives our sins. We believe and know that Jesus paid the price and made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father. He created a way for us to have eternal life. We know that Jesus and God the Father are one. These truths are foundational and they are everything to the believer. These truths are what we must intentionally share with those we come across. 

Just as the religious missionary walks through our neighborhood spreading false teaching, contrary to what the Bible, God-breathed scripture teaches, Christian believers should be ready to share the truth. 

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For the seeker, they are vulnerable to news being shared at their doorstep. They open their door and are susceptible to whatever words are going to be shared. I am grieved imagining  the possibility of the single mom opening her door to deceptive lies. This grief coupled with the burning desire for others to know the truth, is the motivation I need to knock on a strangers door and share my faith.

1 Peter 3:15, But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Read more about sharing your faith here: What’s Your Story