Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Cup of Cold Water

This article was just published in "the Tidings" our district newsletter. (OK, it's not the NY Times - or not even the Lansing State Journal - but it's something). We had several contacts immediately after the event, but not since. I expect it will take doing this a few times to get traction and begin to make a difference.

Faith Church has a reputation around Lansing (Michigan) as being the church that shows the love of Christ in practical ways. Its C.I.A. (Christ In Action) ministry is in the community on a monthly basis doing some random act of kindness. At a recent fireworks display where Faith Church provided 2000 snacks and glowsticks to the kids and six portajohns for the spectators, one man said, “Oh. You’re that church”. These responses have become commonplace as the CIA ministry, begun seven years ago, matures. Started under the leadership of then Community Life Pastor, Jess Allen, CIA seeks to break down artificial barriers between the church and people who, for various reasons, have no interest in what Christ has to offer. In Faith Church’s view, many of those barriers have been constructed by the Church itself. Well intentioned defense of Biblical values has devolved into judgmentalism and bigotry. Rather than creating pathways for persons to find their way to Christ, we have often built defense works to keep out any who would dare question our beliefs and particularly our standards.

Faith Church is committed to breaking down artificial barriers to the Gospel and reaching out to those who reject the Church. So it was, on June 30, 2007 fourteen “C.I.A. operatives” went to the Michigan Pride March at the state capitol. This event drew over 2,000 gays, lesbians and their supporters from around the state of Michigan and the region. It also drew protestors. Several religious groups were there, holding pacards and shouting through bullhorns. One sign proclaimed: “Lies Satan tells us….God loves everyone”.

Then there was Faith Church. Four teams of three following Jesus’ invitation to give “cups of cold water in (his) name”. In this case it was 1,500 bottles of iced water. A few refused our offer when they realized it was a church, but most were extremely grateful and several significant discussions ensued. Many assumed Faith Church to be a gay affirming church because of our approach. Whenever possible, we tried to make clear that we would have some very different views on the issues, but that we realized the other approach wasn’t working. We were there to start a conversation rather than a confrontation. We were able to show the love of Christ and on several occasions express our desire to open a dialoge about the issues facing homosexuals without compromising our stand.
Since the event we have received three phone calls and one letter of appreciation from parade participants; a much higher percentage than usual. I am proud to be part of a church that is willing to get beyond our walls and the artificial barriers that have been built between us and a world who needs to know Jesus.




This is the transcript of one of the phone messages we received....

My name is _____ _______. I’m living in ________________. I was at the rally in Lansing on Saturday…the gay rally. I was so moved by that simple act of you guys giving out water, that last night it just about brought tears to my eyes. I thought, “you know, those are the actions that say more than words.” I really appreciated what you guys did. You’re doing the right thing. You’re doing a great job.


7 comments:

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