This is being presented by a church? No thanks. I don't want to be drawn into a different setting but get hit with the same old message; I don't need to hear a preacher. Why doesn't the church just stay in their own back yard and provide whatever it is they do to those who need that sort of thing?
There you have it, two opposing views, both talking about the same event.
As we prepare to bring Michael Hingson to the valley to share his story of faith and trust and triumph, some have quietly wondered, what makes this different than any other organization that may bring in a motivational speaker? Others as they process an invitation to come and hear his story or attend the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast question this on a different level, wondering if the church has a 'hidden agenda'. Some in their skepticism will choose to stay away, just to err on the side of caution.
Perhaps these kinds of thoughts have gone through your mind; perhaps you have asked these questions from one side of the equation or the other, or both. For me, I can only cycle back to what prompted the initial ask of Mr. Hingson and my understanding of the Great Commission and the scared responsibility to share our faith.
I first came across Michael's story in the context of preparing for a series of messages on Psalm 23. His story from 9-11 served as an illustration in making the observation: when we face a crisis, when we face uncertainty, when we are overwhelmed with fear, we all look for a guide. Psalm 23, verse 1 tells us, The Lord is my shepherd, my Guide.
Guided to Safety is an opportunity for us to hear Michael's remarkable story and as we've been saying for the past number of weeks, to be invitational, to enter into conversation about life and faith and to demonstrate to a sometimes skeptical world that the church still has a place within our communities; that we are a force for good, with a message of hope; a message that is not only proclaimed from our pulpits but lived out in our daily lives.
The words of the Great Commission encourage us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-10) As we are going, as we are living our lives day-by-day, sharing our lives with one another and those in our sphere of influence we have the opportunity to live out the message of grace and hope we find in Christ. By being invitational, by entering into conversations around the opportunity to come and hear Michael's story we are sharing that message; through Michael as he speaks about his faith and trust but perhaps more importantly through the conversations we are now having and the conversations we will continue to have in the days and weeks ahead. And, we never know how God might use one of those conversations and our prayers to inspire and encourage and bless someone in our relational world. It might just be that which leads them to 'taste and see' that the Lord is good.
I wonder, do you believe that? Will you pray to that end?
For me, I have watched as a few of us first connected to consider this opportunity, as we prayed about it, gave generously, planned and prepared and stepped up to offer to help in various ways. I have seen God lead and open doors; I have had opportunity to enter into conversation and have witnessed you doing the same. I have sensed God is at work among us, in us and through us.
Over the next week to ten days, we will in a special way be the church 'on display' in our communities; may we steward well this sacred trust, praying that God will honor the step of faith we have taken to do this and surprise us with an out-pouring of His grace.