I was restless last night, she was on my mind. So young, so pretty and so lost. Earlier in the day I had emailed someone who had known her for years to find out a bit more about her, but his response only confirmed the rumours. Still I wasn't satisfied. Something simply doesn't add up! In the day time she goes to college but eats with the homeless people wherever there is free food, on Sundays she comes to church but despite explaining the gospel in every possible way, she still hasn't accepted Jesus into her life. At night she walks the streets and sells her body for money but I can't figure out why as she lives at home with her parents.
I remember the first time I met her, she seemed really sweet. A bit shy but nothing seemed unusual. More than a year has passed and her story has slowly unfolded. She has joined us for dinner and parties at our home, she has come to our children's birthday parties and family celebrations, she comes to church every Sunday and is a part of our life. On the outside it looks like we are building a relationship with her but on the inside I know that something is desperately wrong. She is well known to many Christians in Gloucester but why then is she not showing signs of life and freedom. Surely if we, who know Jesus, are loving her as we should, then she would be free by now? This is what was troubling me and I was trying to pin my concerns down - what was bugging me?
So I chatted to Eric about it and as I did I realised something. It is easier to give someone a free sandwich and pat yourself on the back than it is to give them a hug - especially when they smell really bad. It is easier to tell someone about what Jesus has done for them than to sit down next to them and chat to them like you would a friend. It gets a little more difficult to invite someone into your home and allow them into your "private" life but the most difficult thing out of all that I have had to do is this.... simply to sit and chat. I don't mean the how are you, how was your week chat. I am talking about building a true friendship where you sit and listen to whatever they want to talk about, where you show the love of Jesus by taking the time to just sit and be with them. Out of all the things that I have done this seems to be the most difficult yet I imagine that this must be the most powerful thing for them to receive - true friendship.
I know I am rambling on here, forgive me for not communicating well today. My heart is in turmoil and I am just sharing it with you. I don't have the solutions I only have the questions, perhaps you can help me?
Why do we as Christian hide behind our good works rather than offer true friendship to those that are lost and hurting?
Why do we as Christians seem to work so hard at "church stuff" but see so little of the power of God in people's lives?
Why are we content to play church every Sunday but not get our hands dirty with the real needs during the week?
Why are we content with the way things are?
I am not content, I am troubled. If the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of me (Romans 8:10) then surely this beautiful, young girl should be free from whatever mental or spiritual problem is plaguing her? Oh and she is just one of the many people that are on my heart. I could write a book about all the people that I have encountered in Gloucester. People who are plagued with mental illness, addictions and hopelessness. With all my heart I believe that if these people had just one sincere Christian friend, then they would find the freedom that Jesus is trying to give them.. This is why we at D7 Church have committed 2011 to focus. We will focus on having just one best friend this year from our community. Our best friend will probably be smelly or might be drunk more often than not. Our best friend will not come neatly packaged in a comfortable box and will definitely not be easy to be around. I firmly believe that if every Christian sincerely chose to befriend one unsaved person for a year then we could change the world we live in. Are you changing your world or are you hiding behind your comfortable Christian deeds?
I am proud to be best friends with a very smelly alcoholic who is very precious to God. She often wakes up in a drunken stupor in a gutter or in a graveyard, but I love her and I believe that in time she will soften her heart to the love of God through me. Personally, I don't have enough love in me for her, my heart is too selfish, but I am praying that the love of God will work through me. But this woman is not the same woman that I mentioned at the beginning of the story. The girl at the beginning of this post is not much older than my own daughter. I desperately want to reach her too, please pray for me, please pray that God shows me what to do for her, please pray that as I investigate a little deeper that I will find the truth, please pray that other Christians will become unsatisfied with the way things are too. Please pray that we all break free from our comfortable lives and get out into the world and start to make a difference. As you know I am a firm supporter of causes that fight against human trafficking - but perhaps the problem is closer to home - perhaps this young girl has been sent out at night to work the streets by her parents. I don't know if this is the case, but isn't it easier to send money to organisations or write about causes than it is to actually fight human trafficking that exists on our doorstep? Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Are you doing good works to make yourself look good or are do you actually care about what is really going on in the world - your world - you street - your city?
Can I tell you a secret? When Eric and I started our church we thought that all we had to do was build a cool church and people would come flocking to it! If only it were that easy! Jesus is our example and He spent most of His time out and about with the people. It is so much easier to build an organisation that feeds the masses than it is to be a good friend to just one person. It is so much easier to preach to a crowd than it is to get up close and personal to one sinner. What do you think about all this?