September for Tacoma has been beautiful and exhausting... but it's not over yet. Thank you all so much for your prayers and participation in this intentional effort to tangibly demonstrate the love of God to our city while taking every opportunity to share the gospel with them.
It all started last weekend with a block party for the city. We prayed a lot, invited a lot, sent out mailers to the Hilltop and beyond and then prayed some more. I have to say I was disappointed with the turn-out. There were a lot of people that came though over the course of the weekend but I was anticipating more. The comfort I have is that we prayed above all else for God to bring the "right" people and not just a large quantity of people. I trust that is what he did. We had a blast watching families play on the inflatables, take part in an illusionist show and eat a lot of hot dogs and sno-cones. Sunday we ate some more... pancakes this time... and watched the Hawks lose to the Cardinals... sad day.
Again the turn out for the Hawks game was surprisingly small but those that came were able to connect well with the people of our church who were there. Honestly the Hawks game was one of the hardest parts of the weekend for me because I felt like our church dropped the ball. When we went through our April is Awesome outreach the one thing I kept saying and praising Jesus for was that our church got out of their comfort zones, showed up at the events and did everything they could to connect with people. We had far fewer of our own church people at the Hawks game than we do on a typical Sunday and it just kind of bummed me out. We are asking people to do a lot this month but we tried to prepare everyone for a full and exhausting month. I was definitely disappointed in the turn-out. God was still at work though to be sure. There was one family in particular that came and hung out with us... rabid Seahawks fans... they had a blast and we got to know them pretty well through the event. I thank God for the new faces that came.
The highlight of the kick-off weekend was actually our evening worship gathering. We had the highest attendance we've ever had for a worship gathering and had a blast lifting high the name of Jesus. We got to baptize 3 people... a single mom and a husband and wife... and all three dedicated their children to the Lord that evening... 5 kids in all. It was a beautiful expression of the life change we long to see and there were a lot of new faces and unbelievers who got to hear the gospel preached through the Word and through baptism. It was awesome to say the least.
The couple who was baptized is an amazing story. Many of you have read about Bruce and Deidra on this blog. They are an amazing couple and an asset to what God has called The Pathway to be. Their brother-in-law Steve lives next to the spot with his wife Jenn and we've all been serving them and sharing the gospel with them for months. Steve has been diagnosed with a very ferocious disease and has been near death multiple times in the last 9 months. Well Steve finally gave his life to Jesus and we were able to baptize he and his wife. The other baptism was a young single mom named Nomi who lives in the apartment complex our interns were commissioned to reach this summer. One of our interns, Sarah from FBC Concord, TN befriended Nomi and shared the gospel with her all summer. When Sarah went home she was sad that Nomi had not yet given her life to Jesus but I think Sarah had little doubt that it was a decision Nomi was going to make. A couple weeks ago at an Intentional Community gathering Nomi professed that she had given her life to Jesus. Praise God for life change!!!
During the worship gathering we pushed hard for people to join an Intentional Community. We had multiple commitments from people and we are praying that they will boldly connect even as the emotion and enthusiasm starts to dissipate. The weekend had it's ups and downs but we got to meet so many of our neighbors and see so many new faces that there is no doubt God was at work. I'm so thankful for the team God has put in place here in Tacoma and how hard they are all willing to work to see the gospel infiltrate our community.
Tonight we had our third September for Tacoma event... a day at the movies. One of our Intentional Communities sponsored the event and their preparation and what God did blew away my expectations. Because I wasn't thrilled with the turn-out last weekend I set my expectations low for today. What did God do? He blew my expectations out of the water. We watched The Lorax indoors today at 4pm and had a great turn-out. We had people come back from last weekend... this time our church made a great showing... and one of our guys who runs the local family shelter even brought a van full of families from the mission. It was a great time of community and connection, all in the name of Jesus. Then at 8pm we had an outdoor movie and the turn-out again was phenomenal. We had so many kids, parents, and all around new faces that it made me realize this is why we did this outreach. It was awesome to see the body of Christ take ownership of the event, put in the time and effort and see God reward it so fruitfully... not because we are good but because he is great!
What now? Now is the time to continue to pray. We did not just do these events to draw a crowd. We did them so that people would be introduced to the life changing power of Jesus. Please pray that people come to worship tomorrow and respond to the gospel. Please pray that our church follows up with relationships that were started and please pray that people come back next Saturday for ice cream and game night. We are expecting great things from a great God and we ask that you pray for him to do more than we can imagine. I want to ask you to pray specifically that people would connect to a new Story of God Intentional Community that we are launching. A great opportunity for people to hear God's story and figure out how they fit into that story.
I also want to thank all of you who gave so generously to make this outreach possible. You know who you are and words cannot express how grateful we are for your generosity.