18 years, four Countries and five children (with another on the way) later we have the opportunity to launch another new Church in our home region. Wow... surreal, exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. After being in Asian for over 15 years, giving birth to 4 of our 5 children in foreign countries, being more yellow on the inside than white on the outside, it is hard to envision what life will be like in America.
One African Minister, about a year ago, was trying to convince me that America did not need or deserve another Church. His suggestion was that I should choose another Asian or African city to plant my family and a new work. However, we sensed the leading of the Lord to come back to the USA and see what God could do.
We are happy we did because to our surprise America is in desperate need for authentic, simple Christianity and churches who make space for God. After being here for the past 8 months it is so evident that America is once again in dire straits for a move of God. One young man, who aspires to be a minister, recently walked into my office and said "revival is coming". My response was simple "we have revival in Church every week". I was not exaggerating or just putting faith talk into action. We are literally seeing people weeping, repenting, marriages being restored, and coming to the altars week after week with God touching their lives. Others have said "I could just stay here (in church) all day".
Revival and the move of God is not something we are waiting for but rather something that we make space for. If we would make space for God to move in our families, Churches, small groups, counseling sessions and the like then He would be more than happy to do so. I cannot imagine *doing* life or church without making space for God to move.
I can now begin to see in my heart how America needs genuine, authentic Christian communities hungry for God and structured in a way that would allow Him to do as He pleased. We have once again structured God out of much we do in His Name. Our Nation is facing some of the greatest challenges ever with our drug problem and over doses, crime rates, political turmoil and the like... yet it seems like every website I look at is taking about coffee and their one hour experience as if this will fix our Nation's problems.
I heard from one Minister recently returning from Africa that he witnessed what he called (paraphrased) "maybe the greatest move of God on the planet". The church would arrive at 7am, take lunch around 3pm and then continue on. Of course we Americans justify this radical commitment to being in the house of God by saying; they are traveling further or have needs that are greater or some other explanation to ease of our conscience. It is strange to me though, that in Africa or China or elsewhere, this type of elongated God encounters are awesome, in that Country, but here in America it would be hard to fill a small auditorium, on a regular basis, if we held hours long services every week. Why, because people will only come and stay long only to meet with God. Outside of a God encounter it is another entertaining event and there are way too many options and too many entertaining outlets that we have to get too in a day. Going to church is just one item on our list of things we MUST do today. And there lies one of the problems. Ask the average American if they are a Christian and their response will be "I go to such and such church". Still the majority of our Nation goes to church somewhere sometime, but are they encountering God in their time in Church.
Yes, America needs, like all the Nations around the world, another move of God to break forth freely in our well organized Churches. But this also is nothing new. I remember a story of a minister back in the earlier 1900s who Pastored what he called "the popular Church" in LA, California. He relunctantly attended a revival service of a well known revivalist of the time. At the meeting, on the platform, he recalls encountering the presence of God and coming to the startling conclusion that he did not even know Jesus anymore. He goes on the share how he became so wrapped up in his "popular church" that he either lost or never had a relationship with Christ. Yes, America needs God to continue to have his way.
A new work is an opportunity to create space for God. It is hard to change what you start feeding people on. It is like my dog's eating habits. We began feeding our dog some type of dog food years ago and if/when we try to feed her anything else but what she is use to she just rejects it almost to the point of starving. My kids start getting all concerned because Lulu will not eat for what seems like days. I really have no idea how our dog can go so long without eating. This is not much different from the people we are ministering too. If we do not start right, lead people to the waters, feed them on a whole Bible diet (including the parts we do not understand, like or have not experienced ourselves), making space for a move of God, get involved in people's lives and build genuine Christian community, then our people too may starve themselves like my dog when God shows up and the food that they are use to is different. 1 Timothy 1:19 teaches us on shipwrecked faith. Yes, it can happen and has happened to more Godly people than you or I.
To be continued...