Our flesh is weak

Dec 10 2008 – VID00005

Originally uploaded by andyandserenity

We have always wanted everyone to know that we aren’t going to sugar-coat things, we want to resist the usual missionary line that says everything is good, God is doing great things through us as we have wonderful days feeding the poor, loving the homeless and saving souls. In Atlanta our flesh has felt a bit deflated at our unsuccessful attempts at bringing the Love to this VERY different city. Our smallness screamed at us the whole time we were in Atlanta but we are seeing this now as a good thing. Our outreach overwhelmed us and was very limited, which makes us feel useless, which can also be a very good thing.

Our flesh can become uncomfortable in strange environments. The street cart vendors in Woodruff Park were extremely aggressive and made us feel very uncomfortable. We have been doing this for 6 months; Chicago, New York, Boston, Cleveland, all “difficult” cities to do ministry in, but we never felt this deflated. As we walked the block from Five Points, the downtown transit center, to the park we were aggressively approached by people selling magazines, beanies, and jewelery, as well as panhandlers (the only people who did not approach us was the two guys selling stuff for the Nation of Islam). As we approached the park you could see more than 100 homeless playing chess, talking, or just hanging out. One mentally ill man, who was walking about 30 ft. in front of us, waved his hands in the air as he spewed random and nonsensical things at the top of his lungs. All of it overwhelmed us, probably more so than any other time on our journey.

Jesus sees no skin color, but our flesh sometimes does. We were consumed with feelings of ineffectiveness as we approached this city park seeing probably 95% of the homeless being African-American. Thoughts begin to flood your conscience giving you doubt about what you can do, “how can you connect with him, you can’t understand where he is coming from” or “he won’t talk to you, you’re white.” Serenity and I fed the kids sandwiches as we sat in the park talking with Sam, a refugee from Bosnia who was an alcoholic and was visibly drunk as he slurred his words.

It started pouring the second day we were in Atlanta and we had planned to offer free coffee and prayer that day. But as the rain increased, Serenity decided to stayed in the RV with the kids while I tromped over to the bus station supplied with coffee and rain gear. I had some good opportunities to pray and talk with a few people, however most people completely ignored me and kept walking. Some folks just can’t be bothered, even for free Starbucks!

Rainstorms, RV problems, moving Big Buster three different times, lack of contacts, and figuring out the crazy MARTA public transportation system were just a few things that significantly slowed us down. Nevertheless, the Lord has been reminding us that it has nothing to do with us and ALL to do with Him. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We are definitely weak; it was made very clear. What we, as in all of us, need to focus on is that each day we need to give it up to Jesus so that He can work in us and through us in seemingly insignificant and useless ways. When we become an empty vessel that Jesus uses to fill up and then spill out on to others it doesn’t matter what our day looks like, how “effective” we are, or how many things we get done. Only then can ALL of the glory go where it should.


2 Responses

  1. Maybe this is what the Apostle Pau meant when he talked about sharing in the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings. Many of us have tough times come their way, and we’re grateful for an awareness of God’s presence in them. You’ve gone looking for tough times, not your own, but other’s. Sort of what Jesus did. In that, the Father was glorified through the Son. Through your obedience, God is glorified.

  2. It is wonderful to “hear” you both in writing, your hearts, and see you on camera. My gosh! What adorable kids–almost as cute as Peter’s–ha! Thanks so much for sharing. BTW–no quotation marks around “missionaries”–You ARE M’s! No saying “randomly” anymore when you MEAN God appointed–which they surely are! And thanks for sharing your down moments. I don’t know ANY CBC M’s who use feel good lines–or withhold the truth. They wouldn’t get us to support ’em if that’s all we heard–or wanted to hear. No, we need to pray for the real things–and we’ll praise along with you for the good things, too! love patti iverson

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