Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Church Planting where the Sidewalk Ends (Part 2 of 2)

Saturday, I walked beyond where the sidewalk ends. As I toiled up yet another narrow cobblestone street, I saw many places without sidewalks - or any other real semblance of infrastructure. I talked to a mother whose family used to be involved in church, and who now didn't bother to stand as she smoked next to her whisky bottles (both BIG no-no's in Brazilian Christian circles) and told me with blank eyes and a shrug that her teenage son was using drugs. I walked past the biggest drug dealer in the area and found out that he had been the praise leader in a local church. I talked to a man who described how the police showed up four hours after a woman whose house was being broken into called them. I heard the fear in the voices of adults as they spoke of the youth in the neighborhood.

It's odd - in our former ministry in the rural amazon basin, I faced danger, but it was more along the lines of getting bitten by poisonous spiders (which actually happened to me, by the way) or vampire bats, or sinking in a precarious boat in the middle of nowhere, and it never really bothered me.

Here in the city, there are places where I can smell the danger - as I have headed home late at night through darkened neighborhoods where the sidewalk ends, I have felt stabs of fear as I look at the very people I have been sent to reach. And that physical fear is not without reason. In the months we have been here, a colleague and I have been in the middle of a shooting, another missionary couple was carjacked at gunpoint, and yet another one of our missionary families have had their house robbed four times. We live in a big city, and I'm working beyond the sidewalk - "where the wild things are," if you will. And yet, I know that God is watching over us and protecting us. So I don't fear for my or my family's safety, but every once in a while, I feel it trying to creep in on me.

However, I admit to my shame that the main fear I have often allowed to creep over me is the fear of failure. What if we fail? What if we fail to reach these people who are so desperately lost? What if these churches we want to see never get off the ground? What then? What will become of them? What will become of me? What if we join the ranks of those who have seen little fruit? And so, I confess - I have often allowed my desire to succeed to morph into a lack of faith and a fear of failure. And yet, I know that God responds to us according to our level of faith.

But I know that the same God who promises to protect me also promises that He WILL build HIS church and that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. His hand is powerful and mighty to save, and He loves the Gaucho people far more than I.

So, pray with and for me and our team - that God will forgive my fear and lack of faith and give me faith the size of a mustard seed, so that His church, planted where the sidewalk ends (both literally and figuratively) will grow to be the largest of plants and become a mighty tree where many will find rest.

1 comment:

GuyMuse said...

Great post, Jeff!

I did pray that last paragraph for you and Cam. Hang in there and keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith!