Thoughts and Meditations from verses and stories through one guy's head and heart... Psalm 124:7
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Something From Nothing
Every Tuesday night in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago a group of brothers and sisters in Christ get together to worship the Lord at a service called THE BRIDGE, which is an outreach of Mission:USA. Pretty much everyone you will find at THE BRIDGE has a criminal record. They have all served time. Many have been in gangs and almost all have been slaves to a hard-core drug addiction. Some of the folks at THE BRIDGE are on work release from prison, are in drug rehab or live in a halfway house. It doesn’t sound like your typical American church and there’s a good reason for that… it’s not. There’s nothing typical about THE BRIDGE, and in fact, I’ve never seen anything like it.
We took 15 high-school folks from Christ Community in Oak Ridge, Tennessee up to Chicago to serve and worship at THE BRIDGE and it was an incredible night. The day started out shaky because we wanted to serve Glen, Jane, Mike, Gloria and Jed of Mission:USA by working around their house which they use for ministry, but the weather folks said that it would rain hard all day long with flood warnings. On our way to breakfast, the rain started and it hit us hard. But weather aside, there were other question marks… how would these kids do in such a foreign and intimidating situation? Would they be afraid of people they’ve never met who were so drastically different from them? Would they fearfully cluster up in a corner like a little huddle of petrified white faces? And what about logistics… the deli somehow forgot our order of 200 pieces of fried chicken that we intended to serve the folks at THE BRIDGE… would we have the food we needed in the 15 minutes we had to get it together?
In Romans chapter 4 Paul says that Abraham believed the promise of God even though it didn’t make any sense… God promised the ancient couple children of their own and even though Paul says Abe’s body was as good as dead and Sarah’s womb was dead, Abraham believed that God was able even to reverse death. In verse 17 Paul says that Abraham believed in “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”
In the Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases that verse by saying, “…what only God could do: raise the dead to life and with a word make something out of nothing.” That’s what our day was like. Even though the radars and people with advanced degrees promised a deluge, the storm zipped passed us and cleared up just in time for us to serve our beloved missionaries. Our kids prayed right there in the grocery store and wouldn’t you know it… 200 pieces of blazing hot fried chicken were ready to go right when we needed them, and then we have our kids…
You would have thought they went to THE BRIDGE every week and had known those brothers and sisters their whole lives. They were giving hugs, clapping and singing together, listening to stories and praying over their new brothers and sisters. Tyler said, “They were the closest, warmest, most open group I have ever been around… I wish I could have talked all night.” He sat by a brother and after they sang praises together he leaned over to Tyler and said, “Are you going to sit with me in heaven? ‘Cause I got a seat for you!”
When it was all over, we sat in the vans as Joe and Connor talked with a brother named Noah. He is 25 years old, has been in prison four times, been stabbed in the head and lost one of his fingers to frostbite because he was living on the streets and sleeping out in the freezing cold. He told Joe and Connor how God has come into his heart and how much he needs the Lord to make it. He shared his prayer requests with our guys and after jotting them down, Connor asked if they could just go ahead and pray it up right there… Many people would have written off Noah as a hopeless case, but now he has an eternal hope and a friend and brother in Tennessee who will never forget him. Our Father truly is the One who calls the dead to life and with a word makes something out of nothing!