I got a message from one of my classmates and Commissioning Class yesterday to remind me that 39 years ago we had been commissioned as Evangelist. I remember the service well! That afternoon I had a meeting with the commissioning bishop and was offered a placement in his diocese. I was to go to a remote First Nation’s community and build relationships with the youth. At the service that evening he spoke about what a brave group the Church Army (now Threshold) was to go to such places that others would not. I remember being concerned that my mother would stop the whole service as he described the challenges of such a ministry.
I did not just survive that first posting I thrived. I had been ‘thrown in over my head’ and I had learned to trust God. These were formative times for me. Ever since then I have always felt that I was in over my head, but it became my norm. To this day I grow restive if I begin to feel too secure.
This week I was asked two questions, which cause me to reflect on this calling. Firstly, I was asked, “What would you be if you were not a Threshold Evangelist?” I have only entertained two other vocations. I thought about being in advertising. Inspired by Darrin, on the television show Bewitched, I wanted to spend my life crafting clever logos and ad campaigns. I’m not sure that outside fantasy television that such a potion really exists. My investigations led me to believe that some sort of ‘artistic’ skill in the visual arts was needed and I am a bust in that department. Secondly, I thought about being a stand-up comic or writing comedy. Though I never actively pursued this I have incorporated it into my ministry in a number of ways. There are many ways to read scripture and wholesome Christianity calls on us to use a variety of them. One way I have learned to read scripture is to look for the inside joke. Many a truth is spoke in jest, and God’s Word is no different. This has led me to a kind of comedic devotional life. I appreciate the wonderful humour of the Lord and in prayer we ‘share laughs’. I realize this is not typical piety, but for me it is a most intimate form of relating with my Father. Of course, it is not the only arrow in my holy quiver, but it is a well used mode of devotion. I have found God a wonderful audience. People can be much more difficult. Everyone is a critic. People can laugh and in the same breath groan and mock, but I feel God’s smile.
In my ministry I have found ways to proclaim the Good News ala Darrin from Bewitched and instead of ‘stand up’ I have developed a kind of ‘kneel up’ devotion. Following God’s way for me, the way of evangelism, has enabled me to incorporate all these God given yearnings into one lifetime.
The other question I was asked was “Why do we study scripture all the time?” The short answer is that we don’t! Scripture is a priority in the ministry of Street Hope but ‘living it out’ is vital. But to elaborate, we study scripture to know who God is, what he is like, and what we are and should be in light of that. A friend recently posted a quote from Adrian Plass, “God is nice, and He likes you!” This is the Good News we find in studying his word.