المؤلف: Peter Houston
Category: الشهادة الشخصية, العمل المرسلي في الحضر, الأطفال والشباب
Waking up to city mission can be an uncomfortable experience...
A massive party went down at the sport’s bar, Raging Gull* across the road from us in Polokwane with some DJ or other drawing the crowds. Our pavements were full of cars. People were having a merry time. Unfortunately they were still having a merry time at 12am, 1am, 2am, 3am... at very loud decibels with the DJ shouting through his sound system with serious reverb on.
I began to get to know the police controller quite well because of my frequent calls asking them to do something. Captain Motto* came out after 2am (the police said Raging Gull had a license to be a public nuisance until 2am) but to no avail. The music dipped for fifteen minutes, then DJ Reverb* was back at it.
I also got to know a couple who were fighting on the pavement. I went outside to see what was going on and intervened when I saw the boyfriend was throttling the girlfriend and shaking her violently. We talked through their relational issues, his problem with jealousy, we figured out where they were going next and I took the girl’s cell number so I could check the next day that she was ok (yes, she made it home alive). They said they’d come to church.
I also met Joey and his sister from Westernburg, when I went to check what Captain Motto was doing at 2.30am. Joey was getting into his car. His sister was moving a cooler box of beers into a friend’s car. We got chatting a bit about God (it was an obvious conversation starter since I was standing outside the church). They both believe in God, that God looks after you, they said. And they’d like to come try out my church. So I told them about our 7.30am and 9.15am services! I wished Joey a safe travel back home and advised him not to go the wrong way up Devenish St like an earlier drunken driver from the party.
Ok, so naturally I am resentful and bitter about the Raging Gull. (And the police that seemed so powerless.) The prospect of being a happy-chappy at the Sunday service on minimal sleep was not great. But, on the other hand, maybe I met God out on the pavement in the prodigal people. They were real about their problems. They were open to a God-conversation.
Far more cars were on the pavement for the Raging Gull party than we ever see on a Sunday for church. Far more young people were with those cars too! If the Raging Gull crowd are not coming to church, maybe the church should go to them. It’s amazing how philosophical and open people are in the early hours, especially after a couple of drinks...
I’ve heard of city churches that have an early-hours weekend ministry where people out on the town can get a cup of coffee, collect themselves, even make a phone call for lifts / help and chat to a caring person, who follows the way of Jesus: Jesus - who was also often found to be hanging out with the prodigal people too. Jesus – who told stories about the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son. The shepherd who searches high and low to find the lost sheep, the woman who moves furniture and cleans everywhere to discover the lost coin, and the father who actively watches and waits for the lost son who had wished him dead, and then unashamedly runs to meet the prodigal in a public street to complete the reconciliation. All these ideas carry a certain mission momentum to them.
Oh but I love my sleep and want DJ Reverb to be a mere echo in my memory (the less of him the better). It would be much easier if everyone would simply come to church and I did not actually have to be outward looking. It would be great if Jesus had told the Parable of the Sheep Who Returned of Its Own Accord, the Coin that Appeared by Itself, and the Prodigal Son That Jumped Through All the Hoops to Gain Acceptance. But Jesus didn’t...
Waking up to city mission can be quite a challenge to our churches!
(Note: * names changed to respect identities)