Wednesday, August 31, 2016

This Is For All Of Us

I used to have the idea that most people in the United States, or at least my personal area of the United States, knew who God was. Had a basic understanding of what Christianity teaches, whether they believed it or not. Knew who we mean when we say "Jesus Christ."
I think it's the most innocent lies that are the most dangerous. This one, born of misunderstanding and naiveté, is as ugly and insidious as a false oath or a dishonest life. It lulls one to sleep. It gives an excuse for apathy and disinterest, a protection against the idea that because of my silence, because of my fear, people I am talking to are lost in as much darkness as a tribesman in the Congo or a child in the Orient. 

There are people in Central Oregon, in our own backyard, who have no idea what the gospel means. Even if they have heard of Jesus, sometimes even if they've been to church, they don't understand God's love. They see Christians as moral policemen, in the world to hand out speeding tickets for envy, or demand prison sentences for lust.
They are lost, broken, and alone, and unless we are there for them, they may never hear the truth, or understand that God loves them. They move in circles we never come in contact with, they do things we'd never dream of engaging in, and we never see them, never speak to them. They might as well be on the other side of the world.
And some of them are children. Eight-year-olds whose parents are separating, who think God is punishing them for a lie they told last week. Six-year-olds wondering where God is while their father goes to prison. Thirteen-year-olds looking for love in sex and fantasies. They have no one to answer their questions, no one to teach them the truth, no one to tell them Jesus loves them more than anyone they've ever known.
There are several ways to reach these kids. One is to participate in a Good News club. One afternoon a week, for around an hour, you teach Bible lessons to children in local schools. If there's not already a club at a time that works for you, you can start your own. The ministry is already well-established in the area. all the organizational infra-structure is in place. The lessons are ready to be learned and taught, the visual aids printed, the notes taken. The only thing missing is people to teach.

It does not matter if you are “called” or feel like Good News Club is “your ministry.” If you wait for the perfect ministry to fall in your lap, something that fits your natural inclinations and makes you feel good about yourself, you will waste your life in the sanitized bubble of your own structured life, never interacting with the broken and needy. 
Very few of us are naturally good at public speaking, or teaching concise and applicable Bible lessons, or answering hard questions from hurting children. But that should not stop us from doing it anyway. Even if you don’t have medical training, would you still stop to help a bleeding, hurting person by the side of the road? Imagine that man died because another person refused to try to stop the bleeding? Would you accept the argument: “I didn’t help because I’m not good at stopping bleeding. I don’t know how to do it as well as a doctor would.” It isn't any better if you're saying that you're not good at teaching, or you can't answer questions as well as a pastor would.
We know that is a weak and cowardly excuse. I've been there. I've used those excuses. I'm not good at teaching, I don't know what to say to hard questions, I don't naturally interact well with elementary school age children. I've used those things as excuses to avoid getting involved.
But those are lies and they keep us from helping the needy. They stop us from doing the job in front of us.
Teaching Bible lessons to children is not unreasonably hard. If you’re not good at it, learn. If it’s hard for you, push past it. If you feel like you’re not the right person for the job, do it anyway. Stop making excuses for yourself, building weak walls between yourself and the hurting and broken. They need you. They need us.

 Look at your life. Find the time to make a difference. Whether it's with CEF's Good News clubs or some other ministry, get out there and interact. Be on the front lines. Reject the excuses, the lies, and the temptation to stay comfortable. 
Don't wait for the perfect moment to act. That moment is now.

To get involved with Good News clubs in Central Oregon, call the CEF office at (541)365-2233. Or find other ministries, other outreaches, or after school programs. They're out there and they need you.