I read an article in Christianity today about a small town in North Dakota. Their population has tripled over the last 10 years because of the oil industry. This town has been flooded with workers seeking housing in a town that doesn’t have room for them. There is no homeless shelter and the hotels stay booked weeks in advance. Several churches have opened their doors for temporary housing for these workers until they are able to find a place to live.
I was thrilled by their Mayor’s comments. First he mentioned that this was the perfect opportunity for churches to reach into someone’s life that might not otherwise have interest in religion. He further told the magazine, “They (the workers) may not understand the whole process of trying God, but they will try the church.”
Everyone has this basic knowledge and pull to go to a church if they need assistance of some kind. Even if they don’t “do” church, there is somehow an instinct to connect with a ministry if help is needed. How much more should we as the body of Christ, or the “building” shine with big blinking, neon signs that read:
• “I won’t judge you”
• “I love you for who you are, right now”
• “It is safe to talk to me”
• “I survived, let me help you to survive”
• “I honestly care about you”
Pastor Jay Reinke, another minister in the town said: ‘A lot of people say, “Well, pastor, you can’t save the world.” I’m not trying to save the world, but here’s a man standing in my office. I can help this man.” We get so bummed out from the big picture of how impossible obstacles look that we can’t experience what is right in front of our face. This town could easily have flipped out and refused to accommodate the new residents. They could have viewed them as a looming mountain of despair.
Instead a few leaders focused on people and not situations, to be God with skin on to men desperate for basic human needs; shelter, food and more importantly acceptance. The beginning of the article painted a humbling picture of the sun setting on a local church with a pile of work boots stacked outside the activity hall. The heavy shoes were stained with oil and red dust.
That’s the perfect picture of humanity. We are stained, tired old work boots BUT, they are left outside the activity building when we allow the Lord to stay in our hearts. After all, he was looking for a place to stay just to be born. When we allow Him residence in our lives, he doesn’t try to scrub us up, He just tells us to take off the old, dirty stuff, leave it and come in where life is being lived.