Sometimes just showing up makes all the difference . . .
Starting from my encounter with Mike, the street person I have gotten to know, last week was a remarkable beginning compared to our previous year living in Sunderland and working in Northampton. As soon as we moved to Main Street contact with people we didn't know ramped up, especially people quite different from us.
It was exhilarating:
I am finding, given my natural motivation to pioneer, explore and go beyond, that I relish meeting and talking with new people, hearing their stories and sharing mine. Each person embodies a grand mystery revealed slowly as time is spent with him or her. Each is filled with exquisite potential for collaboration, creativity and Kingdom development. I love the possibility an encounter with the new person presents. I love the edginess pr depth they live. It catalyzes and refreshes me.
It was challenging:
Three of the four people I met are quite different from me, especially in their walk with Jesus. They have a radicality and Kingdom fearlessness stunning and humbling to experience. Each talked of living their lives free to do what is asked of them as they are asked, no matter the cost. They are fierce in their desire to be of use and to help people find Jesus. They don't look like, talk like me, or share my age. They are prophetic, street evangelists, healers, iconoclasts and redemptive subversives at heart. They are broken servants of the Most High God who live well in the unfolding unknown.
I am challenged by their freedom, but I also know we have something to give them through imagine. Each one said they are called to help us . . . in any way they can. God called them to do it. He brought us together.
It is intriguing:
As I met each one I wondered what God has up his omniscient sleeve. Mid-week I mentioned to the Leadership Team that imagine/northampton will look very different from what we suspect if God continues to draw these kinds of folks. It will be more messy, surprising and even bewildering at times. We will learn much from them.
My conversations with these guys left me with an unshakable sense that imagine/northampton really is God's initiative and he will shape it as it furthers his interests according to his will. He will do it his way, period. We got the ball rolling with him, but there are others he will gather to lend their voices and gifts to how God wants to move us forward in the days ahead.
I love that!
Add to the mix that we got to spend half a day with Nate and Ashley, a young and very gifted couple of Jesus followers from CT who feel called to join us up here next year after they finish school and get married. Then, Matt and Karen Bayne moved into Northampton last weekend. Their arrival has been long awaited. What a joy for us to have them to be here finally. They are amazing people in their own right.
I also met some young street musicians, gave money away to street performers and panhandlers, and built a relationship with a man who provides homes and work for the homeless. We are going to have coffee this week so I can learn from him.
This weekend, Tricia and I will join friends from Steiger Intl. across the street to hang out with street kids and homeless folks. I will bring my Udo drum and do some playing too.
So last week left me exhilarated, challenged and intrigued. I like living this way, and I hope it will continue. If God adds making a real difference in Northampton for his Kingdom, we get to live a life better than we could ever cobble together on our own.
Make it so, Father . . . every last bit!