The Other Side Of The Sanctuary

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On my missions trip this past summer I had some crazy experiences sharing the Gospel with those of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim cultures. My team and I would be divided up into smaller groups, usually two or three if the long term members were with us, and we would go on the streets and ask people it we could pray for them, share the Gospel with them, or even just love them in a tangible way. This was completely new to me.

One day, we were going to a Muslim temple to evangelize. My short term team was divided up with the long term team members. I specifically was placed with two ladies that were on the long term team that new the language. Before heading out, my group thought it would be a good idea to pray and ask the Lord to show us specific people to pray for and share with.  After we finished praying, we shared what the Lord spoke to us. I saw an image of a Hindu woman wearing a red shirt and someone else heard the word “green”. We moved forward and kept our eyes peeled.

As we were walking, a little boy with a paper (his birth rights), came up to us and asked for money. Instead of giving him money, we took him to get food. We sat at the table in the open shop and fed him. We took this moment to get to know him and ask if he knew about Jesus. Before leaving, he let us pray with him and then he shared his food with his friends. As we were leaving, I saw across the street a Hindu woman with a red shirt with a woman in a green shirt.

We scurried across the street to catch these ladies before they left. We came to see that they were at a shoe repairman’s booth getting shoes sewn back together. As they each finished up with the shoe repairman, we realized they were together and so we started talking with them. I, unfortunately, did not understand the language and relied on the other lady’s translation for me. We asked if they each needed prayer. The woman in the green shirt said “yes”, let us pray for her, and then left. The woman in the red shirt said “yes” and then invited us back to her home.

I was really confused at whether this was a good idea or not, but the two long term workers followed her when she started walking to her home. When we got there, it was one room, smaller than my dorm room with a bed, a couch, and a small stove and sink. There was another room with a small bathroom in it and a really tiny storage room, but we did not go back there because of her dog. She let us sit on her bed while beginning to make chia tea for us.

While she did this, the long term workers started to get to know her more. She said that her and her brother lived in the small room together. She also pulled out an old binder that had all of her resumes and cover letters in it. We learned that she was a chef and knew how to cook American and French cuisine, as well as her native Asian cuisine. We were astounded at her ability of cooking. Some of the things she had made are things in America that I have never made myself, but bought frozen and heated up in the oven… lasagna.

As we sat there getting to know her and watching her make tea, I looked around a bit. There were a lot of spiders and cob webs on the walls. There was a ton of dust; not the cleanest environment I had been in. I watched her make the tea; she took a pot that was sitting on a high shelf and dumped it in the pot on the small stove; it was milk. When she handed us the tea, I was very hesitant to drink it. I felt unclean. I felt like I was going to get sick because of how unclean it was. But then I realized she lived there each day. She drank this same tea and she was still going strong. I manned up and drank it. It was the best tea I had ever had.

We learned about her family and her life. Then, she asked us to pray for her legs. The long term workers let me pray because I couldn’t actually participate in the conversation because of language barriers. I prayed and she looked so happy that someone cared about her enough to come and enjoy tea with her and pray for her. My heart was overwhelmed with love for this complete stranger that had invited us into her home. The long term members exchanged contact information with her to keep in touch and invite her to church.

Countless times these things happened. We would ask someone if we could pray for them and they bought us tea, asked if we could meet up with them again, invited their friends over to have us pray over them as well. The list goes on and on. Why? Why were these people being so kind to foreigners that wanted to share something completely against what they believed their entire life? It was such a God thing, such a moving of the Holy Spirit.

If there’s one thing I learned, it was to be relational with people, especially when sharing the Gospel with them. I learned that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone and drink a cup of tea that you think you might die from because of the uncleanliness in the environment. Why? Because God! Because God is good enough! He is so worthy. Because that’s what Jesus did.

There were no barriers that stopped Jesus from doing ministry no matter where He went. So why do we put up barriers? Why do we put up restrictions on where we can do ministry at? We are involved in ministries, but they most likely reside in the church. Jesus hardly ever stayed in the church to do ministry.

Why do you think this is? Personally, I believe it is because in church, the Gospel is constantly being shared. The name Jesus is said. God is worshiped. A message of the truth is shared. Communion is partaken of. What about on the other side of the sanctuary? That is, where these things aren’t taking place regularly. What about in the streets, at the mall, at the coffee shop you go to everyday to get that Americano that gets you through the day?

Church, I am preaching to myself when I say this. We cannot limit ourselves to being in the church to do ministry. We need to step up our game, put on the armor of God, and jump onto the mission field in our own backyard. There are so many that are lost and broken that we pass every day. Why don’t we stop and pray for them like we do with our church friend when we pass them between Sunday school classes? Why don’t we ask them to get coffee with us so we can get to know them like we do to the first-time visitors on Sunday mornings to make them feel more welcome?

Paul says this:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10.14-15

How can those outside the Church hear about Jesus if we stay contained in our own church bubble? Church, join me in accepting the challenge to step out of your comfort zone. Let’s be relational. Let’s get to know people like Jesus did. Let’s love them like Jesus did.

Pastor Aaron shares exactly how Jesus did this in His sermon: “Life On Mission – CONNECT”. Check out the podcast here and discover how Jesus encountered Matthew for the first time and how Paul got to know the jailer of a prison and lead his whole household to Christ!  http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission  This is how we are supposed to go about ministry, inviting other’s towards relationship.

Church, we are all missionaries in our own daily lives. The lost are all around and waiting to be told of the most beautiful love story of all, Jesus dying for us and giving us life everlasting! LIFE ON MISSION starts by connecting with people. Join me on the other side of the sanctuary for a life of mission…

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger, College Student

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