Sunday we ate lunch together at Victory House, joined by Emily, who shared some of her story with us. What an amazing young woman, who is chasing hard after God's heart...
At 1:00 we went to the worship pavilion to soak, worship, and pray in preparation for that afternoon's service. At 2:00, Meridith (missionary at WWG, who Brooke met at Harvest School last year and stayed with when she visited WWG in the fall) assigned us to prayer walk around the block before service began. Some of our team ended up praying with a man they are convinced is tormented by demons. While they ministered to him, Pat, Mary Grace, and I ended up walking to the end of the street. As we walked, I reminded Mary Grace of some of the things she'd learned at church and Sunday School...how Jesus is the Light of the world and He lives in us and says WE are the light of the world...how where there is light, darkness cannot stay...how when we speak out loud in the authority of Jesus' name, it changes things in the atmosphere...so, Pat and I encouraged her to listen to God's voice as He directed us where to go and what to speak out. She led us to the cemetery across the street. She remembered that last year Mrs. Amy L had told us that sometimes people live in the graveyard if they can't find shelter anywhere, that it was a place of great darkness. Now any other little girl might have been frightened away by that, but not this one! She is a pint-sized prayer warrior! She marched right up to the fence and began declaring it as a place of life, light, and love! I told her afterward, I was going to make her a super-hero cape that said "PRAYER WARRIOR" on the back!
We turned and walked up another street, speaking out what we were sensing in the spirit to overcome what we were seeing in the natural, then we turned back toward base and got to the worship pavilion just in time for service to start.
Meridith encouraged everyone to sit next to someone they didn't know. I ended up next to a couple who I thought must be neighbors there, based on their appearance and strong body odors, but turns out they attend another church in the morning and come to WWG's service in the afternoon. What a good lesson for me to learn about not judging a book by its cover!
Meagan preached the message from the parable of the bridesmaids who weren't ready for the bridegroom. She not only talked about it from the perspective of coming into a saving relationship with Jesus, but also about the importance of intimacy with Him once we've been saved. It was really good! I was so surprised later when I discovered she had never preached before!
After service, Landrum asked if there had been any updates from the Mozambique team, and since I'd received a few texts from Brooke, they asked me to share.
After service, chairs were moved, tables were set up, and we served food to the neighbors. We didn't just serve them, though. We sat with them and fellowshipped with them. Now, God had to move me waaaay out of my comfort zone for this! Not the eating part and not the sitting with them part, but small talk has always been a struggle for me. I like what's familiar. I like to talk about things I have in common with people...like if I had sat at a table with some ladies, I could have thought of things to talk about, like our kids, or something...but oh no...when I went through the line and looked up to where Mr. Bobby was motioning me to go, it was a table full of men. Men of all ages and one color - brown. So...here I am, this little white homeschooling mom from suburbia at a table full of African-American men from inner city Jackson! I mean really! Are you getting the picture?! God's sense of humor is sometimes downright hilarious!!
Anyway, I handed a plate to a gentleman, asking his name. He had a crooked smile and scars on his face I'm sure weren't caused by some sort of automobile accident if you know what I mean...he introduced himself as William. I told him my name and noticed he was wearing a University of Kentucky t-shirt. I personally don't really care about college sports rivalries, but living in a house full of boys and living in the southeastern USA, I do know how men enjoy ribbing one another over this sort of thing, so noticing Brett (our pastor who lived in KY for a few years and is a UK fan) standing nearby, I gave William a hard time about wearing a KY shirt, loudly enough for Brett to hear, so he joined in the conversation for a moment before moving on to visit with someone else at the other end of the table. I then introduced myself to a young man sitting to my left, who introduced himself as Robert. I shared with him that Robert was my son Blake's middle name. As we ate our lunch, I continued making attempts at conversation. The men were polite, answering my questions, but they never made an effort to keep the conversation going, so it was a bit awkward...
Later, as I reflected on our shared meal, and attempts at shared conversation, I wondered if there was anything I could have done differently or if I could have tried harder to connect at a deeper level...All I could do was ask God to bless my pitiful offering and make it somehow count for eternity...little did I know then that over the next two days, He would show me that my willingness to be used of Him, regardless of how uncomfortable it made me would indeed count for something.
Every single time we allow Him to stretch us, to mold us, to pour through us - whether through displays of mighty power or the simple act of giving fried chicken and feeble attempts at conversation, what we are really doing is simply noticing someone...the simple act of making eye contact...of asking someone's name...of handing them a cup of cold lemonade...every single time, we are communicating that he or she matters, and God thinks he or she was worth dying for. Thank You, Lord that all You ask for is a willing heart...willing to serve...willing to look foolish...willing to love the one...