On our mission trip this summer, we were taken into a neighborhood to perform a children’s program for the children who live there. We didn’t realize that this neighborhood was heavily affected by area gangs, but our leader did. They dropped us off at the school yard where the program was to take place. We unpacked our bags and supplies inside the fenced in, concreted playground area of the school. It was very warm that day, I was wishing we were out in the countryside again with some trees for shade, but I was ready to meet these new children and have some fun.
Because there was quite a wait before our program was to begin, one member of our group decided that she would go and pass out Christian tracts to some adults that she had seen out along the road. As she headed outside the fence, our host missionary sent our translator after her.
“Marylee, you should come back to the school yard.”
“But I just wanted to pass out some tracts and tell these people about Jesus.”
“Marylee, it probably isn’t real safe for you to do that here.”
So back she came. Into the safety of the schoolyard. They brought the children in to us. We ministered and played with over 50 children that morning. It was a day I will never forget.
As we left that day, our host missionary said he had a confession to make, and he proceeded to tell us about the dangerous area that we had just served in. We had seen masked gunmen in uniforms patrolling the area on foot in a group formation earlier in the day, so we had figured it wasn’t the safest place. But we never felt afraid there. God was with us.
I pray each day for the children growing up there and for their parents trying to raise them to follow Jesus!
God has reminded me several times that He is sovereign. He chooses where and when we are born and into what families we will be raised. He has purpose in our circumstances. He is crafting warriors for His kingdom right there in that neighborhood. And I for one am honored to have been used by Him for this purpose.
Serving God isn’t safe. The pastor and his wife serving in this neighborhood are stepping out with great faith that God is with them as they are raising up the next generation of children to love Jesus. To break the cycle. To give them hope.
We don’t always get to stay inside the fence. Sometimes, like Marylee, we must venture out into the streets even if it isn’t the safest choice. Jesus didn’t wait for seekers to come find him. He went out and found them; in a boat, on a mountain, at a well, at the river, in town after town, writing in the dirt to protect the guilty, in a garden with his disciples. He let them press in close enough to touch the hem of his garments, and he wept with them as they grieved.
Following Jesus has nothing to do with our comfort, safety, well-being, or ability. It is all about the depth of our faith in who He is. Are we willing to follow Him and obey Him regardless of the cost to ourselves?
I pray that you will venture outside of the fence. It is dangerous out there. But God is with you.
Be encouraged. Press on.