Everything in Common
"Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrach, and Saul." Acts 13:1
The women in this photo and I seemingly have nothing in common. We are from different races, different economic situations, different lifestyles. The same was true for the church at Antioch. In the words of Toby Mac, this first Gentile church was a Diverse City. There were Jews and Greeks. Rich and poor. Culturally elite and social outcasts. There was only one common denominator: Jesus Christ.
Before Friday, I believed I had very little in common with these women and yet through the extravagant, lavish grace of our Lord, a woman and teenage girl became my spiritual sisters this week during a missions effort by our church into their housing community in Montgomery, Alabama. Enticed by a new clothing giveaway, these ladies agreed to join me for some "Girl Talk" during a Backyard Bible Club. I had no idea what to expect going in so I was prepared with a Gospel presentation, my trusty Sword, and lots of praying girlfriends.
Often when I have shared the Gospel in this type of setting, I can literally see the womens' eyes glaze over. In the same spirit in which one would attend a 90-minute condominium presentation for a free vacation, you can almost hear the women say, "Get on with it. I'm not buying. I am only here for the free stuff!" And yet on this day, it was as if the sky opened up and God shot a beam of Holy Spirit fire right into our tent because here are some of the questions which came pouring out of their mouths:
"Why don't we have to offer sacrifices anymore? In the olden days, didn't people have to kill animals all the time? Why don't we do that?"
"Why does God allow terrible things to happen? Why did He let a man in Montgomery murder his three children just to get back at his wife?"
"How can I find the strength to stop doing drugs?"
"Why is it I always do what I don't want to, and I don't do what I do want to?" (Did this one scream Romans 6 or what?)
"I feel like I am sinning against my children for not giving them a better life. I want them to know there is more than this. How do I show them how to make something of themselves when I have failed?"
To say my jaw was on the ground does not even begin to do the matter justice. Here I was expecting dead silence when I began to talk about salvation and instead we went through scripture after scripture for an hour and a half. Shame on me for thinking so little of my God or the powerful prayers of our church and my blog friends! How dare I cease expecting His Wonders!
To hear these women sobbing and asking God to forgive their sin and restore their broken lives was about more than I could take in. The sincere prayer of faith is a sound I will never get tired of hearing as long as I live. What is better? Having one of them come to me today and tell me she had already read the entire books of John and Romans I had suggested and asking where to go next. You can't see, but I am still having a Jesus fit over it.
The blessing of getting to know these women showed me we have much more in common than first meets the eye. We want to mother well. We want the best for our children. We want to live a life of significance. We desire stability. However, God impressed a huge truth upon me this week: Anyone can have common dreams but only through Jesus Christ can we have common hope.
Lord Jesus, with uplifted hands I join the angel chorus who is even now singing praise to Your Holy Name for the redemption of these souls. I am full of joyful expectation of the good things you have in store for those who love Your appearing. Father, You know the dire needs and I ask you to build the faith of these women in Mighty Wonders only You can orchestrate. Amen!
p.s. These women were among twenty plus who were born again during our time in Montgomery this week. I'll be adding more redemption stories at my blog, The Preacher's Wife, over the next few days. Please come visit!