Every church planter knows that uneasy feeling, as the start of the worship service nears, of not seeing a lot of faces you expected to see. Ugh! Sunday it happened to me so I slipped into a back room & prayed for a few minutes, “God, help me to keep my mind focused on you & serve the people who are here well. And Lord, would you do something unusual today to really encourage me?” I went to the front of the building & looked out the window. No extra vehicles. A few moments later I looked again …and then I saw not 1, not 2, but 5 packed vehicles (including 2 vans) pull in to the parking lot. One after another they filed in with cheerful smiles & hugs & handshakes. Really encouraging! As I greeted them I sort of recognized one guy & asked him where I knew him from. Then it dawned on, “Saturday afternoons!” It was Denard Robinson. Since I have been a Wolverine fan my whole life that was encouraging as well! I later found out it was the people of InnerCity Outreach Ministries, lead by Pastor Dexter, a good friend of Clete’s from their children’s school. Dexter, who moved here in 1999 from Georgia to plant a church, felt burdened earlier in the morning to come out with his crew to encourage our young church. That, they did! And after the service I was invited to minister at a Monday morning outdoor Bible study for men right off the streets or out of prison.
I’m pretty sure this group of believers won’t be coming out regularly;) I’m glad for that since they are a church making a difference in their neighborhood 3.5 miles away! But I was encouraged in several ways. First, it was a fresh reminder that God cares for Restore…& me, even in unusual blue & maize ways. Second, that we have another church in the city praying & pulling for us. Third, that I was able to minister the word, as Aaron ministered in music, at the outdoor service & see God work in some powerful ways (& some unfamiliar ways for me – I’ll save that story for another day). Fourth, that God is about saving both stars & unknown people – the playing field is level at the foot of the cross. And Jesus came to gather a people for His name from all walks of life!
On a related note it was funny to ask Pastor Dexter how his daughter came to know Denard. “I’m not really a football fan. But I’m a big fan of God & of my daughter. And I told him that if he wants to walk with my daughter he better be serious about walking with Jesus!” Oh, for a city full of dads with that kind of heart for God & their daughters!
Sunday ended with 27 peeps from Restore gathering for a great meal at Mercury Burger Bar. In addition to watching our waiter Mark do various flips we enjoyed some great burgers. Most of all, it was a beautiful to see a group of people sold out for Jesus, who were mostly strangers only a year ago, gathered together to talk mission and enjoy each others company around a really long table. It made me long for the ultimate banquet to come! Lord, please use us to summon many in the 48202/206 & outward to your everlasting feast.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Here’s a short sermon jam from a few Sunday’s ago put together by a good friend who is training my son Kevin on video technology.