Last Sunday Linda came to worship with us for the first time. Someone from the prayer team say “Linda? Is that the Linda we’ve been praying for?” The reply: “Yes, it’s her. She’s here!” Linda was then greeted by people who had invested in her life before she even met them.
I heard this story second-hand because I was out of town last Sunday. But it’s exciting to share a story that exemplifies how the Lord is working through our mission called Invite Henrietta. Here’s another story.
Madan is a man from India who came to our Cinco de Mayo party. He’s a student at RIT. Last Wednesday we began a 3-session bible study for seekers called “Exploring a Love Relationship with God”, and Madan attended. He, like the other two men who came, are already believers – but none of them had come to a bible study here before.
All these people ate from the tables that the BBQ Team and the Zampella family filled with food. Through their generosity we can invite people to eat for free! It’s a simple manifestation of grace that reminds me of Isaiah 55:1 Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! I wonder how we can keep this up financially, but somehow God will provide…
For example, last night an outreach team of 5 people went out on Vollmer Parkway and Beckwith Streets. We invited one man to our BBQ, and he was interested right away. “I’m not into the religious aspect, but I love the idea of us being a community. Can I bring anything? We have an inflatable bouncy house we could bring if you want”. Of course I said yes!
Our outreach team starts these doorstep conversations by inviting people to our First Friday BBQ, and most people politely listen to our spiel, take the invitation card, then thank us and go back to watching TV. But frequently we meet people who take a small step of engagement. Last night, for example, I met several believers who stopped going to church. Several blamed Covid, and some expressed guilt. But each needed the reminder that they are loved and wanted by God. Will they act on the reminder? I don’t know.
We’re seeing how ethnically diverse this part of Rochester is. Last night we met people from Nepal, China, Ethiopia, Puerto Rico, and Ukraine. Most of them have very little understanding of Christianity. But what’s striking to me is how many American-born neighbors have the same lack of knowledge. The upside of that instead of being cynical about religion, some are curious. It’s a blank slate for them in this post-Christian culture. The next story is an example.
I knocked on the door of an apartment house near our church and a handsome student from RIT answered. Exams were over, so he appeared friendly and relaxed. Like many people his age, he didn’t automatically shut down when the conversation turned to God. Soon a young woman joined us at the door. She wore very little clothing and had bright pink hair. But she was clearly intelligent and she listened with more than polite interested as I discussed how important she was to God. I wish now that I’d prevailed on their curiosity a bit more than I did. I gave them a copy of The 4 Spiritual Laws, but I should have offered to read through it with them. Maybe next week I will.
This is just a smattering of what I see God doingFROM THIS WEEK ALONE. We should anticipate that people usually move toward God in small steps. It takes time to coax seekers along.
I do want you to know that we need more workers. Our BBQ and prayer teams are well staffed, but we have no drivers and few follow-up workers. Our outreach team writes personal notes to individuals who show an interest, but we must hand-deliver those notes because the cost of postage is prohibitive. Those notes are an important part of forming relationships, and those relationships form a bridge to God across which those folks may someday walk.