For months leading up to that evening, James had stayed in touch with us. He’d called us almost weekly – not with an agenda but just to touch base and ask how they could be praying for us. I usually had no idea what to tell him other than we were in a mess.
James was an interim pastor at a small congregation at the time. We offered them no indication that we’d become another number on their church roster. We had nothing to offer, just our neediness. Time after time, we wondered – Why? Why do they care about us?
To be honest, I’m a skeptic. I’m prone to doubting and fight the tension between faith and tangible rationale most every day. Likely this is due in part to my history in what was called “church.” Maybe it’s my personality as well (supposedly INTP, for those interested in Myers-Briggs). Even still, on my worst days, when Christianity seems but another man-made cover and a masterful means of brainwashing naïve people, I remember the James and Heidis, the Jay and Amys, the Gus and Nancys, and the Van and Glendas of this world.
They had nothing to gain, and yet they welcomed us.
They took us in. Cared for us. Loved our babies, took pictures of them, fed them, and played with them like family. Those memories well up higher than the waves of doubt. And I remind myself that there must be a God. And He must be loving because His people – the people who talked about Him and prayed to Him with us – they were so, very loving. When everything in me wants to yank my hands away from the burning stove of what I’ve seen of “church” and God, those people help me believe. Their living showed me the truth of Jesus with more clarity than any subsequent Bible study or sermon could’ve accomplished.
So, why build bridges? Why focus on relationships and people and loving well?
Because people like Jay and I would never be reached by sermons, programs, or another come-to-this-event at a local church building with special music and lights and such. Someone had to move beyond that, meet us as we were, and invest their lives in ours.
Friends, in order for this Gospel-thing to make any sense to average people in today’s society, we must open our lives as well as we open our church doors.
For as we open our lives and build relationships, we show we are convinced that the good news of the Gospel is actually good and matters to others, and that Jesus Christ is every bit the Redeemer we proclaim He is.
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This month’s series is on being a bridge-builder. In short, it’s about how to be like certain individuals who let God show up in their words and deeds and forever changed our little family. But, it’s not a series about our story; it’s as series about how Redemption made our story useful, even valuable, in a greater story.
If Jay and I know anything about being a bridge-builder, it’s because we were the ones stuck on an island. If we understand anything about the power of meeting people where they are and standing in the gap, it’s because that’s how we were rescued – by God, through average people.