We have been on a ‘road trip’. We drove to Ontario and visited friends and family and experienced our first bit of summer for this year. It was a really nice break. One of the most memorable events was our visit to the Mirvish Theatre production of “Come From Away”. A generous friend sent us to see this production for our birthdays (which are in December and January respectively). The musical is set in Gander Newfoundland during the September of 2001. Hundreds of passengers from all around the world were stranded there during the after math of 9/11. The musical was a wonderful reminder of the power of love and hospitality, especially during the darkest days.
Many lives were changed on 9/11 and mine was one of them. Before those events I was energetically engaged in the politics and culture wars within the church. I was chair of a national organization advocating ‘renewal’ in the church. After 9/11 I quit. I quit not because I had become convinced that renewal was not necessary but because my calling was to a much narrower focus. 9/11 called me back to my roots. My calling was to evangelism. Others would have to deal with the important matters of politics and renewal while I recommitted myself to evangelism. I purposely stepped from the limelight into relative obscurity.
Many died that day and I don’t know how many had heard, really heard, the Good News. I realize that there have been even greater tragedies in other parts of the world, and I was not moved in this same way but the scope of the tragedy in my ‘neck of the woods’ woke me afresh to the urgency of evangelism.
Recently I found myself saying (I sometimes surprise myself and even learn something during my own sermons) that I only have one message. I do not constantly repeat myself. but the message is always the same. There is a story of a young man who travelled with John Wesley one day. Wesley began early in a town and preached from John 3:3 “You must be born again”. He moved to the next community and preached on the same text and so it continued as he travelled that day. After the last meeting of the day, the young man asked Wesley “Why do you always preach “You must be born again?” to which Wesley replied, “Because… You must be born again.” Jesus preached using a lot of different metaphors and examples, but the gospel writers could summarise all his preaching in the phrase “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
I do not preach exactly the same sermon nor constantly share the same examples but especially since 9/11 I have consistently shared the Good News so that people have a chance to hear, really hear, the love of Christ.
In many ways, I have come to enjoy my obscurity. It gives me the opportunity to consistently communicate in word and deed the love of our crucified and risen Saviour so that people have the opportunity to repent, believe, and receive him as Lord.
I will conclude with this ‘little’ tease. In coming weeks, we will be making an exciting announcement about next steps for Street Hope Saint John. Keep us in prayer!