What a great morning of ministry! Thanks to a connection with some church members, I spent part of the morning having conversation with Christopher (a young man from Malawi, Africa studying at Africa University who is on internship in Kansas). Christopher shared some of his joys and struggles of growing up in Malawi as the oldest of seven children in his family. As he gave me pointers on what to expect on my upcoming trip to Malawi, I raised a question about the growing reach of the church in his home country. ‘Christopher, you’re telling me one pastor serves 20 churches?! What has led to such great evangelism and growth of the church?’
‘Prayer,’ he said. How often do we forget about that one? Then he went on to say that lay leadership was crucial in leading the church when pastors can only visit every so often. As I listened to Christopher, he continued to express the things that God has done and continues to do in his life. His excitement about the work of the church digging boreholes for fresh water, feeding communities in drought stricken villages, and teaching children the foundation of education in nursery schools is contagious.
After blessing the conversation we shared, I quickly went to downtown Nashville to serve lunch for persons who are homeless. Upon finding out I serve as a pastor, a volunteer said surprisingly, ‘Oh it’s so good to have you here. Pastors so rarely come down here.’ I wonder why that is? A sermon yet to be written. A hospital visit to be made. A finance report to be prepared. A Sunday school lesson to be written. Maybe those who are homeless aren’t easy to work with or cleaning tables as a witness to the love of Jesus Christ isn’t quite glamorous enough…
In the course of serving lunch and bussing tables, I took notice of a young woman from Nashville State University who was doing more than feeding people. She was trying to establish connections even if for only a few minutes with whoever was sitting at the table entrusted to her care. She was doing a far better job of loving on people than I was.
So looking back on the morning, I’m thankful that it was filled with the power of prayer, new relationships, signs of love, and challenges to the way ministry is carried out in my context. Thanks be to God for young people who passionately serve and lead in the name of Christ (and thanks be to God that their passion calls into question when and where pastors show up to serve alongside them).