Friday, May 6, 2011

Pray and Love

I have a couple of people in my life who have this uncanny knack for having meaningful conversations with perfect strangers about God. Some people would call them evangelists. And, that is truly what they are. It’s, what I believe, a spiritual gift that God has commissioned them to use. They are uniquely designed to share their faith with others. Kurt’s a guy who prays before he enters into any room, restaurant or store. He asks God to show him if there’s anyone there who is ready to hear the good news of Jesus. Then he simply starts friendly, tactful conversations with people, asking questions that eventfully lead to sharing words about hope, God’s love, and saving grace. Kurt is a charming guy and is very easy to talk with. It’s remarkable to watch people respond to his kind, but truth-filled, words about God and life.

Dave is another guy I’d call a gifted evangelist, but his approach is dynamically different from Kurt’s. Dave lives in a Forest Hill neighborhood filled with young families. His house is in the back of the neighborhood on a street that ends in a cul-de-sac. He and his wife prayerfully purchased their home with the hopes of having a spiritual impact on their neighbors. I stopped in to see Dave and his wife one summer evening. It seemed as if the entire neighborhood was out and about in their yards or walking the sidewalks. Dave’s yard was crawling with kids and his kitchen was filled with adults just hanging out and chatting. I apologized for interrupting their gathering as I assumed it was something planned. Dave assured me that I was more than welcome to be there and these types of neighborhood gatherings were unplanned and common. He said, “We have an open door policy on nights like tonight. People will just walk in the door, pour a cold beverage and chat for while. We invite it and love it.” Dave then took me outside and began pointing to houses in eye shot of his yard. He told me a small piece of each family’s story and what he and his wife were praying on behalf on them. “That’s Jim and Barb’s house. Barb just found out she has cancer. Over here, is Jack and Jenny’s house. They just moved in from Tennessee and don’t know anyone in Grand Rapids. We’re cooking burgers with them tomorrow. Larry and Sue live across the street. Their son plays hockey with our son. Oh… Larry gave his life to Christ last year. He’s really growing in the neighborhood men’s Bible study we do every Friday morning.” Dave later explained how he and Nancy, his wife, walk the neighborhood several nights a week, praying for each family by name and the specific needs or issues in their lives.

Though Dave and Kurt have dynamically different ways of reaching out to unbelieving people, there are a couple of common threads that have encouraged me in my personal pursuits of sharing my faith with others. First, both pray diligently for people. They both agree that evangelism is getting on board with God’s work in other people’s lives. Evangelism is not a sales tactic but rather it’s joining with God in his pursuit of lost people. Second, both Dave and Kurt love people and they seem to have more concern with the well-being of others, than their agenda or comfort. Kurt would rather chat with a stranger than enjoy a quiet lunch. Dave would rather have his house full of people than veg on the couch alone with the TV remote and a hockey game.

I believe God loves it when we pray for the lost and we open our homes and time to them. I’m convinced that these are things we all can do. Pray and love… then see what God will do.

1 comment:

  1. Last year, we moved from our home of 30 years in the country, to a condominium complex. It was a difficult move, and I have been struggling with where God would use me. I look out of the kitchen window, at the children playing in the parking lot, and am reminded that I was a "latchkey" kid growing up. I see the single mothers, struggling to survive and remember I grew up with a single mother; but exactly where and how to start? Your comments about the couple who walk their neighborhood, praying for their neighbors, was inspiring, and I found myself excited by the thought of this one step I could take. I took a walk around our association, with our grandaughter; and I asked God to bless each of the neighbors, make it obvious who to reach out to, and what needs to pray about. Right now, they are all house numbers; but I am confidant, even though I don't know who they are or what their names are. I asked God to make His will clearer, as the days go by. (Yvonne Curtis - Kentwood campus)