Los Angeles, California
| Those We Leave Behind|
[b]Those We Leave Behind...[/b]
by: James Smith
I seem to be drawn to those that have been overlooked, marginalized or forgotten.
I really, honestly, don't care about the "boy's club" I don't care about TBN or Charisma. I don't care about fitting in with your group, your dogma or your religious preferences.
I do care about all of the things that the church seems to have forgotten about. Maybe a part of that is because the church has never been my church.
That is not to say that I am an "out-of-church Christian", I am certainly not. I have always just happened to be someone constantly on the outside looking in.
I can remember one time when I was a runaway in Phoenix, Arizona. I had just turned 16 years old and took the 300 dollar car that I had and left with my friend. To fund the trip, my friend stole a bunch of stuff from his step-father and we pawned it.
When we got to Phoenix, we knew no one. We looked for the local scene there and didn't find too much. By the second night, I had been pulled over and my car was impounded. Instead of taking us in for no insurance, no registration and vagrancy, we were dropped off by the cops on Van Buren Street at 1 am with no money and no vehicle. Big fun.
We walked all night and in the afternoon found ourselves in a suburb on Thanksgiving Day. And almost 20 years later I can still vividly recall the feeling of standing on a curb in a pretty suburb, looking through the window at a family having Thanksgiving dinner when I had nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat.
I feel like that sometimes in regards to the church. That I am still standing on that sidewalk watching the people, knowing that their life is not my life.
I have always been drawn to the disenfranchised, dispossessed and disillusioned. And there are plenty of them out there to busy myself with, believe me. We are surrounded by the invisible, the lonely lurkers who are not seen. And they need Jesus, regardless of their station. They need care, self respect and viable options for their future. They need instruction and they need knowledge to accompany the spiritual food they are starving for.
Over the years we have found ourselves in the barrios of New Mexico, the slaughterhouse towns of Minnesota, the dying mountain towns of Pennsylvania, the Indian reservations of South Dakota, the inner city of Chicago, the rural farmtowns of Iowa and the streets and hospices of Houston.
We have been shocked by the apathy of the church so many times that we have grown quite jaded. When we work with squatters in Chicago and discover that there are 5500 homeless youth there but only 200 available beds in shelters, yet the church will not concern itself with the problem, it is easy to get frustrated and tired.
We have been faced with the problem of watching the Tally-heads, the 8 and 9 year old kids who take dollar bills into the dark alleys of Uptown to buy a thinner-dipped rag to get high with, then wander drunkenly down the streets, oblivious to the world and quite invisible to the church. Little bodies that can no longer think are many times kidnapped for use in underground kiddie porn or murdered in an abandoned tenement with no one to shed a tear for them at all.
The Natives on the reservations, drunk and diseased as a lifestyle. In the county where we lived, there was an 85 percent alcoholism rate. It was common to see 11 year old girls pregnant from a night of terrifying rape, usually at the hands of a drunken relative. Ten to fifteen people living in two rooms, grandmothers taking care of the continuous line of children birthed to mothers who do not care and have no way to properly raise the children, and the wheel turns on and on and on. And faced with the awful trauma, the church sent food to an already obese people as an answer.
Over and over again we have stood helpless in the face of dire need. And over and over again we find the church unwilling to do anything at all about it.
And after screaming ourselves hoarse for the church to awake from its sugar coma to no avail, only one solution makes any real sense: to become the church on our own terms and among our own kind and to meet the needs that we see with abandon.
To plant churches in the inconvenient places, to raise up preachers discipled ourselves and to evangelize in the way that we feel led, not needing permission or approval from anyone. To organize into a group that will not shirk the responsibility and will never break and run when faced with outrageous odds.
We must reemploy the tactics of the Methodist circuit riders, planting where there is a need and not caring if it is rural or how many show up for services. We must train those that are saved to take the message to the world. We must put evangelism first here in this country, using tents and street ministry to win those who are not even sought by the traditional church.
We must take responsibility for the state of our generation and win the lost at any cost.
I will not be tormented by spiritual impotence anymore, friends. I will not miss one more invitation to third world nations because the church does not care. I will not see brothers suffer in obscurity because they are not marketable.
I can not live with the hauntings any longer, the ghosts of the faces of those we have left behind, the need still there, the pain still there.
This must become our moment as the outcast church, our time to band together and to do all that is in our hearts to do. We must find a way because if we do not, no way will ever be found. The need is the claim on you and I.
And truthfully, what better place than right here and what better time than right now?
| 2008/5/9 18:22||Profile|
| Re: Those We Leave Behind|
Jesus was drawn to the forgotten, the neglected,
the misfits, the lepers, the outcasts. Why has
the Church forgotten it's mission to the broken,
the lonely, the lost, the needy, the poor ??
Martin G. Smith
| 2008/5/9 18:50||Profile|
| Re: Those We Leave Behind|
Until we stop looking for what is in it for me, we will not be the outcast church.
Until we see it as His moment and not our moment, we will not be the outcast church.
Until we begin to truly live the words of Christ, we will not be the outcast church.
Until we stop making excuses why we cant and start believing He can, we will not be the outcast church.
The outcast church is the true church of Jesus Christ.
The outcast church
suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1 Cor. 13:4-7
The outcast church is Love, it is the pure Love of the Lord Jesus Christ and it never fails.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Until we love one another as He has loved us, we will not be the outcast church.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Until we stop making excuses why this is not happening, we will not be the outcast church.
When men and women begin to truly believe in the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ we will see the outcast church shinning His glorious light in this dark world.
Until then we will continue to see and hear the whimpering imposter making excuses for no power and love for the lost; but loving and being loved of the world.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
To the outcast church, it is and will always be about Jesus.
Count it all joy to be an outcast for His sake, but make sure it is for HIM.
For if it is, you will be doing those greater works for His glory and for His praise.
And may God have mercy on our souls for all those we have left behind.
| 2008/5/9 23:04||Profile|