Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hungry...but not for physical food

Our church is beginning a concerted effort to reach the people of Arlington with the Good News. All the home groups will be going through a six-week series of teachings to focus on "missional" living. Amy and I had been thinking about how we were to start getting more involved as far as serving in our new church. When we were asked to lead one of these groups, it seemed like the right thing to do to get our feet wet.

I've wrestled with the whole idea of reaching out in Arlington, and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, in general. One could argue that DFW is the most "reached" metropolitan area in the world. This area is saturated with seminaries, Bible colleges, Christian schools, and ministry headquarters (like Wycliffe Bible Translators, Pioneer Bible Translators, and Gospel for Asia)—to say nothing of the fact that it seems there is a church or two or four on every corner! I had a hard time seeing how it was possible that anyone could not at least hear about Jesus if they lived in the metroplex. I've always felt that there are many places so much more needy than here.

But hearing about Jesus, and following Him are two vastly different things. More and more, I am beginning to see the need around.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with a pastor friend of mine. I got to the restaurant a little before he did and decided to pull out my Bible and read a bit before he showed up. I had it laying on the table facedown when a busser came by.

"Is that a Bible you got there?" he asked. "Yeah, it is," I responded.
"Are you a pastor?"
"No, I'm a math teacher. My name is Brian," I said, extending a hand to him.
"I'm Jeremiah," he responded. (He had a biblical name, but I've changed it here.)
"That's a good biblical name," I said.
"Yeah, my mom was a strong believer."

"Brian, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"What do you think it means to 'live in the light'?"

We talked for a few minutes about that until my friend showed up. I introduced Jeremiah to my pastor friend and we both continued talking with him. Jeremiah was just getting off the graveyard shift and was planning on going home. "Would you like to sit down with us?" my friend asked. Upon checking things out, he agreed to stay. We invited him to eat with us, but he wasn't hungry.

After sitting down, the first question he asked us was, "What does it mean to meet Jesus?" It turns out that Jeremiah attends church every once in a while. He is not a follower of Jesus, but was clearly very interested. We had the opportunity to share the good news with him, as well as our own testimonies of how we met Jesus.

We spent about an hour together over our meal. When we asked him if he had ever considered giving his life to Christ, he said that he had considered it, but that his "pride" and "stubbornness" were preventing him. Jeremiah reminded me a lot of myself when I was his age (25). I think he's very close to entering the Kingdom of God.

We talked a little longer before I had to head off to school. As he left, my friend and I told him that we would pray for him.

This whole event was a good reminder to me that there are people even in DFW (!) who do not yet know Christ, but who are spiritually hungry. We who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good need to be ready to share our bread with them.

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