Things are beginning to come ‘full circle’.
When I first started ministry in inner-city Saint John we began with a “Healing Clinic”. The idea was that we would simply ‘hang out our shingle’ and offer prayer to folks in the neighbourhood. We did this as an attempt to meet our neighbours in a way that would provide us the best opportunity to really listen to their concerns. I have often told the story of meeting Ron at these early meetings. We prayed for him and then didn’t see him for months. He had been so gravely in need of a new kidney that I thought he had probably died, but then he showed up again! When I asked where he had been, he looked at me like I was stunned. “You prayed I’d get a new kidney and I’ve been in Halifax where I got the surgery giving me one! What did you expect?”
Susan used to come to these clinics, as well. She wasn’t looking for any real healing but she was lonely and wanted someone to listen to her. She lived in a care home where she was seldom ‘listened to’. To be honest she had very limited things to say and our times were full of repetitive stories. While they seemed fresh to Susan I often felt like I was caught in a time loop. But these were meaningful encounters for her.
Out of the core of people we met through our Healing Clinic we formed Up Town Church. We defined ourselves as “an honest accepting community of broken people, together finding wholeness through Christ and sharing the love of God through acts of kindness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Through Up Town we continued to pray for people. I remember Janet who came one Sunday Evening. Her neck was in a brace and she asked if we had any high backed chairs. We borrowed a chair from the church sanctuary that night but soon found a suitable one at a local thrift store. We were ready for Janet’s next visit! When she arrived I rushed to the spot where we had stored the chair only to learn that she no longer needed it. Like Ron, she was surprised by my lack of faith! We had prayed for her the previous week and she no longer required that kind of support.
We have had other wonderful examples of God’s healing work over the years and we have lots of examples of smaller ‘miracles’ and plenty of times we have not seen the same kind of encouraging results. As I look back on these particular encounters, though, I realize that God’s activity does not depend on my faith. I am the butt of God’s healing jokes. I had no expectation for Ron or Janet. I had little patience for Susan. My short comings did not seem to hinder the flow of God’s grace.
Recently I found myself free on Monday mornings. Out Flow, where I do my studies has a wonderful play program with children in that time slot. Over the last month or so I have just ‘sat with that’ not wanting to jump into anything but instead to be led to the right thing. I believe the right thing is to open (or re-open) a Healing Clinic. So Monday mornings I will return to Stone Church and will figuratively hang out my shingle (I will literally put out our Street Hope sidewalk sign) and be available to listen to and pray for our neighbours. I don’t know what that will look like. I don’t know how long it will take to become useful. I do believe that it is an opportunity to go deeper with people. I am becoming less and less interested in a broad ministry with bigger numbers and keener and keener for in depth conversations, which may lead to healing and deliverance.
I invite you to pray for this new (old) venture as things come full circle in the Uptown, for us.