First of all, I want to give a major shout out to the five interns... Jack, Sarah, Josh, Ken & Lydia... who have served The Pathway, the people of Tacoma and specifically the people of the Summertree apartments for the past 2 months. Every summer we have embedded interns into a local apartment complex with the mission of reaching that complex for Jesus. We have learned a lot each year but in our third year the Holy Spirit saw fit to move mightily. It was amazing to watch the Spirit soften hearts, stretch our interns and begin to bring about life change. As I sat around the fire pit at my house this past Friday evening hearing stories of the summer from the interns, my heart was deeply moved.
All of the interns spoke with deep affection about one couple in particular. The funny thing is that their first encounter with this couple was when the guy asked one of the interns if they wanted to buy some weed. Who would of thought by the end of the summer the couple would be a part of the Summertree Intentional Community. God is amazing.
The second story spoke to the response of the Holy Spirit when we are obedient & consistent. These interns have been faithful to serve their apartment complex consistently all summer long. This last week Stacie, who oversaw the interns this summer, was knocking on doors and inviting residents to an event. She came to the door of one of the maintenance ladies who is the grandma of one of the boys the interns have really invested in deeply. The Grandma looked at Stacie and said, "I'm so glad you all moved in here." Stacie replied, "Me too, it's all because we love Jesus." And to that the Grandma replied with tears welling up in her eyes, "You must REALLY love Jesus." Her grandson has since come to worship with The Pathway and the grandma told Stacie that she will come some day... "but not yet."
The final thing I felt compelled to blog about tonight was a conversation I had with some people this evening. I'm currently chillin in the lobby of a hotel in Atlanta, GA. One of our partners was extremely gracious and invited me to attend the North American Mission Board's "Send North America" Conference. Very cool to see 2000 Southern Baptist leaders gathered to spur on gospel-centered church planting in North America.
While I was at the conference tonight I was chatting with a missions pastor who is praying about where their church should partner and a couple who will be moving to the Seattle area to plant this week. The new church planter told me that he met with a planter in Portland a while back who actually ended up shutting down and "going home" recently. When they met, the planter seemed very discouraged and articulated to this new couple, "I just wish somebody cared as much about planting this church as I do."
That is such a hard thing to hear someone say but I know exactly how he feels. Exactly. Ultimately, nobody... not even your wife and your mom... cares as much as the pastor does about the church plant. That's a humbling thing. It can be a defeating thing. But by the grace of God the Holy Spirit has shown me, in those lonely moments, that there is one that does care about "my" church plant even more than I do and that's the God of the universe. It may sound cheesy or ultra spiritual, but God cares more than I can fathom. He cares about HIS church that he has called me to plant. He cares about me, my wife and our kids. He cares more than I do and because of that I am confident I can run this race. I am confident I am not alone.
Praise Jesus for a God who cares.