Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garbage Church

The small group of believers we worship with is a motley crew of messed up people if there ever was one.  Any given Sunday sees the rough block building with the uneven cement floor and the cheap plastic seats filled with prostitutes, drunks, swindlers...and a bunch of the rest of us more normal sinners.  We are all in the process of being transformed by our encounters with Jesus.  The pastor himself is an ex-drunk whom Jesus turned into one of the most passionate preachers I have ever heard.

Every Sunday we have an open mike testimony time, and it can be surreal.  One of the women in the the church shared that she had finally submitted to conviction and gone to ask forgiveness from the woman she had stabbed for cheating with her husband.  A young man shared recently that the reason he's there is because he'd seen the guy playing the bass guitar take a dramatic turn from a life of destructive sin to one filled with joy, purpose, job and family. He wanted his own life, currently caught in the self-destructive vortex of drugs/sex/drink, to experience the same change.  Last week a woman asked for us to pray for her as she tries to reach out to the woman who is currently sleeping with her husband.

One of the leaders told us that some in town refer to the place as The Garbage Church.  Human detritus filters in here.  So much so, that when the pastor saw our neatly dressed missionary family slip in the back for the first time his shocked mind assumed we'd gotten lost and wandered into the wrong place. Three weeks in a row I've watched the same toddler pee smack in the middle of the center aisle while her barefoot mom looks on adoringly.  The barefoot mom and her brood are fresh out of the jungle.  Simple, uneducated, dirty clothes...and welcome here.  Eventually they'll figure out there's an outhouse behind the church, but until then no one scorns them.  After all, how much effort does it cost us to step across a puddle on our way to the front at offering time?

And it seems to me that Jesus actually goes out of his way to encounter the prostitutes, drunks, swindlers, and kids who pee on the church floor.  He seeks out the broken.  He doesn't seem much interested in those who think they're something special.

Been poking around the first book of Peter, and have been hit by the words from Proverbs that Peter quotes towards the end of his writing:

God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Kind of lays out God's stance pretty clearly.  If I am proud, the God who created the universe is in opposition to me.  If I am broken, he's on my side.

What a gift to be surrounded by people who remind me to stay broken.


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