Friday, July 27, 2012

Jesus + Pumpkin Pie.

A couple of years ago our church launched a new vision.

Although that's the best way I can explain it, that last sentence was slightly deceptive.

The ideas we have put into place are not new at all. It's called the Gospel, and it's about working to meet people's physical and emotional needs. In turn, we pray that we will gain trust with unbelieving, unchurched people and form bonds with them that will lead them to a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.

An important component of the vision (which we call the 4734, you can read more about that HERE) is a no-strings-attached free meal once a month. Our FBC Family has been committed to this for a while now. Our long-term goal is to plug these people into the Family of God, but we never pressure people to come to church just because they come to eat.

I believe it is because of lack of pressure that people keep coming back every month and bringing their friends as well. We sit and let them talk....we do a lot of listening. It turns out that people down on their luck don't have a lot of people who are interested in hearing what they have to say. We help them find things like coats and shoes if they need them. We let them know about local resources if they are having a hard time. Our FBC Family has grown so much closer in our pursuit of loving those far from God by passionately sharing the truth of Christ in love...

Cooking for three hundred in a relatively small and raging hot kitchen will do that to you.

At one meal I said to Seth, "I think I just smelled myself."
I was UN-sure for sure.

I really enjoy the free meals because I love knowing each person's story. It's amazing to me the wide and varied personalities as well as backgrounds. From college graduates to third-grade dropouts. From the funny and light-hearted to the depressed and downtrodden. Smiling, cooing babies and old women bent over with age.

You know, everyone has a story.

Today, I want to share little J's story with you. J came in for our meal once about fifteen minutes after it started. He couldn't have been more than 8 years old. He and the man I assumed to be his father had come in before. I never get to really engage in conversation with them because they get their takeout boxes and leave. They always get a few extra, too.

{So hopefully either we are feeding even more people or we are feeding Jordan and his dad for the majority of the week.}

I greeted them and got down to J's eye level and said hello to him.
He said, "I seen you before!"

I asked him if he came to our children's programming, called SonShine Kids or VBS. He had of course, that's how we get to know the kids--before we ever get to know their families. I asked him his name and he told me.  "Your freckles are so cool, buddy! I am glad you came to see us again today. What kind of dessert would you like?"

I led him by the hand over to the table. I asked him if he wanted cake (a wedding cake donated by people in the community who heard about the meal) or some pumpkin pie.

"What's punkin pie?" J asked as he looked up at me.

How could I explain it to him? I did the best I could and thought the better of introducing this sweet little boy to "punkin pie" as some kids (and some adults) really hate it. Perhaps this situation called for a different approach...

"Would you like some apple pie instead, buddy?" I said as I pointed to our selection of the American tradition.

"What's apple pie?" J asked innocently.

That broke my heart.

You see, I never want to live in a world where an 8-year-old doesn't know what an apple pie is. Because that tells me  he has certainly never had the opportunity to be treated to the things some of us take for granted almost daily, and who knows if he has gotten enough to eat, period.

I do want to be a part of a movement where I can send him home with a big container filled with what was Jordan's first piece of delicious pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top and see his face light up because he knows it is just for him. A movement where he is learning that the Church is a group of people who are meeting his needs and giving him a smile and a hug. Just because he matters. To God and to us.

Because that's what Jesus is about. Offering extravagant love whether it's through an extra dollop of whipped cream or teaching VBS to a roomful of restless little ones who seem not to hear a word you say.

And I am convinced Jesus Himself was present that night. The Unseen Guest at the meal, the Silent Leader of every conversation and the Center of the Kingdom that teaches people about pumpkin pie, but more importantly, also teaches us about love.

By the way, J and his whole family came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ last year.


This is an edited repost in honor of FBC Bicknell's yearly clothing outreach for kids, where every child will get mostly BRAND-NEW school clothes and more importantly, the knowledge that God loves them and cares about their lives.  We have been praying for this outreach, will you join us?

We also have another meal on Sunday evening at FBC from 5-7.  You are welcome to share dinner and life with us...
Here's a song for you today and the Word of God to challenge and inspire us all.