Just this evening I have watched a recent BBC documentary which charts the journeys of Christians whose faith has been born as a result of British missionary work undertaken in their native lands in the 19th century. The episode I was watching was charting the return of an Indian Pastor who came to Belfast, the home of Amy Carmichael. It was a powerful story which charted the footsteps of Carmichael in Millisle, Belfast and then India and the Christian life and work that she lived so wholeheartedly in any place that she lived. The Indian woman came to Belfast with the vision of encouraging new life into the Church here. She did this by engaging with young people in the streets of the Shankill, in the community groups and youth clubs of the area and by being unashamed to proclaim the good news with whomever she encountered. At forst she was ‘in your face’ with her preaching style, but once she learned that this would not make any inroads, she adopted a more relational style which still did not shirk from the truth of the good news. It was emotive and powerful to me as a churchman. She was going door to door and meeting people and relating top them and I am left asking myself, how much of this do I really do in my community. I seek to be involved in the community and I seek to meet people, but I am not actually meeting the neighbours of the church that I am stationed in.
It strikes me that in my church I need to have an outreaching attitude and this has to grow arms and legs and move out beyond the doors of our church. Is this something that we could be doing over the summer instead of an evening service? Could we meet people and ask them their names and then ask them if we can pray for anything in their lives and then actually pray for them? So simple and so cheap to do – the only thing that it would cost us is the energy and the gall to knock on a door. There are dozens of houses in the street adjacent to the church, hundreds probably. What hurt would it do the name of the church to simply try and be a better neighbour?
I am sitting here typing and I am ashamed of the way I have been going about my work. The care of Christ has not been present in my ministry for those who do not know Christ. I am doubly ashamed when I think that it is that heart for lost people that was given to me by God which then called me into ministry.
Lord God, forgive my lack of care for those who do not know you and do not know new life in you. Move in my and stir up the passion I need to effectively and powerfully share this insight you have given me. Help me to respond appropriately.