The story of the wise crack dealer

The past year the Lord has gradually revealed to us “truths” about His kingdom and how He wants us to advance it.  One of those “truths” is the concept of incarnational living.  Jesus was the Word made Flesh, He was God who was incarnated as a human and lived among us.  That is what incarnational means, to live among.  Sometimes I’m not sure if we fully realize the craziness of that statement, God lived amongst us.  Think about that.  How cool is that?  We have seen many ministries who reach out to the poor, the standard model is one of services offered, the gospel being shared by either a guest pastor, or a pastor on staff at the ministry facility.  Usually, those staff members, and others at the facility work their 8 hours and then go back to their homes somewhere else.  Sharing their time, and then retreating.  This model can have it’s up side, but I don’t believe it is how Jesus did ministry, and I don’t believe it is how the Lord is calling Serenity and I into ministry.  We don’t want our ministry to be “to the poor” we want our ministry to be “amongst the poor.”  One key word can change the entire core meaning of the phrase.  Now, if you go back into the archives of our website, you are going to come across a lot of “outreaches” that we have done that contradict this philosophy, that is why I started this post with “the past year the Lord has gradually revealed ‘truths’.”  Take for example one of our favorite ministry opportunities, the Jubilee Diner.  We aren’t living amongst the people we serve cheeseburgers to.  We serve them, we pray for them, we listen to their struggles and then we leave, possibly never seeing them again, and they definitely don’t know where to find us again.  I believe seeds have been planted through this outreach, but it is not how Jesus operated.

All that being said, this story explains the simple truth about incarnational ministry.  The story is retold by me after it was told to me from a guy we met last week.  He read it somewhere and then passed it on to me over pizza.  It’s a little bit like the telephone game, and the original author will probably tell me that I was way off on the facts, but the core message is still in the story.

A ministry in a major U.S. city decided that they wanted to make a deep impact on the youth of their city.  They began to plan and strategize how to best bring Jesus to urban kids.  Fundraising was started and tens of thousands of dollars was raised.  Popular professional athletes were contacted and agreed to come and speak at events.  Inflatables were blown up, staff was hired, production was assembled.  For months and months this ministry had outreach after outreach and eventually realized that very little was actually being done to impact this hurting community.  Gang violence was still a huge problem, drug use was actually higher among youth than the year before, and very little lasting impact had occurred.  Finally, the leader of the ministry, while on his way home from the downtown facility, saw the local crack dealer standing outside of the corner market.  He decided he was going to go confront the drug dealer.  He walk straight up to him and said, “We have spent thousands of dollars in this community, have well known NBA players tell their testimonies, have had major outreaches that have games and carnivals, we have even provided practical needs like non-perishable food and clothing for the families and we have not made an impact.  You and your drugs still have more clout on the streets than we do.”  The crack dealer said, “Do you want to know my secret?”  The pastor nodded.  “It’s really quite simple, when Johnny’s mom needs a loaf of bread she sends Johnny to the store.  When Johnny gets here, I’m here, I’m at the store and you are nowhere to be found.”

The poor must be able to find us.

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One Response

  1. Hi Andy, Serenity and fam! I have been keeping up with your blogs for a while now and felt moved to finally say something. Thank you so much for sharing so candidly your thoughts and experiences. I’ve been encouraged and humbled by your obedience to the Holy Spirit and your organic desire to live out the words of our Savior. This particular blog really touched me. Amen! Our faith is hinged on availability; Jesus is forever present, past and future, He is here! This Easter, we didn’t go to church like we normally do. We choose to be available to our neighbors (who need Jesus), hosting a celebration at our house. With plenty of food, kids running around, stories were shared and hurting neighbors were loved on. Keep fighting the good fight, loving on the unlovable and feeding the hungry Coulombe family, in Jesus’ name! Prayerfully covering you and lifting you up to our Father- Godspeed!

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