The first amazing thing didn't even have to do with the dinner. In order to provide some context for this "God-thing" I have to take you back about 7 months. We always have a time of prayer prior to our worship gathering. It's open to anyone but since it takes place an hour before the gathering begins, usually those that come early to help set-up are the ones around to pray. Well, seven months ago I was praying for one of the last times with our summer interns and Tommy Abbott, who was heading to Seattle to begin planting The Way. Before we prayed I shared with them my anxiety, my fear, that when they left I did not know who was going to fill their shoes. It was only us that day and we were still struggling to develop leaders and grow as a church. But God knew what he was doing.
Fast-forward 7 months to yesterday morning's prayer time. I had my eyes open while people prayed and was just worshipping Jesus for the church that has been born. There were more people there than I could quickly count. I would say at least 10-12 adults. There were children running around and playing. We had new believers voicing beautiful prayers allowed. I just stood there, amazed at what God has done. The people God has grafted into his Kingdom. Amazed.
Jump forward a few hours to our first Community dinner and again I thought, "Wow!" Those who have followed our story know that our biggest prayer over the past year has been for leaders to be raised up. I again sat amazed during our brief training time before the dinner as I watched 19 of us prepare to receive the harvest God had been preparing. Nineteen! How astounding? Nineteen people full of different emotions. Many nervous, anxious, even scared. Many new believers, some seasoned, several recovering addicts, some employed, others unemployed, high school students, college students, homeless, black, white & hispanic. The aroma of lives changed filling the room and a zeal for the mission of God that is becoming contagious.
All this beautiful outpouring of God's handy-work and the dinner had not yet started. Well, the dinner was now starting... early. People actually began showing up at 5:25pm, more than half an hour before "go-time." Our people stepped up. By God's grace and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, I watched in wonder as The Pathway truly demonstrated what it is to be the church.
They greeted people of all walks of life with smiles. We had some people right off the streets, bad odor and all, but the church welcomed them. We had families... mom and dad with 6 kids! We had single ladies, single men and single parents. We had young & old gathered around tables enjoying a meal together. We saw connections made for the first time and we saw reunions with familiar faces. We saw God begin to work & relationships begin to be formed.
We had some technical difficulties too. But we threw the microphone down and I had the chance to share with our new friends the heart of our church. I got to share the gospel, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and that we want them to know our God. We got to invite everyone to explore The Pathway, be it our worship gathering, one of the 7 Intentional Communities we're launching Easter week, or just spending time with us at one of our Gather to Scatter outreaches.
Then we saw the relationships continue to develop. Friendships, true friendships began to be formed. People opened up and connections were made. Now comes the hard part. Now comes the commitment. Now we must continue to pursue the people God brought across our path. Our people are encouraged but there is much work to be done. We need your continued prayers as we follow-up with people from the first dinner and get prepared for two dinners this coming Sunday. God is at work.
We're praying for a greater harvest than we ever dreamed of. We're excited to be having a baptism gathering on Sunday April 29th. We currently have 5 people to baptize... which is fantastic... but we're praying that God will grace us with the chance to baptize many more who come to faith in Jesus as a result of our Gather to Scatter strategy!
Thank you so much for your prayers.