Thursday, June 7, 2012

When the Church "Works"

Yes, I am driving a manual!
"It works!  It really works!"
To my amazement, when I put my foot on the clutch, release the handbrake, and press the accelerator, the car actually moves!  Who knew how empowering it could be to learn how to drive a manual/stick shift car in the countryside of New Zealand after 15 years of driving an automatic.  Driving a manual was not a skill I mastered as a young American driver and quite frankly; it wasn't a big deal. This is not my reality now, and necessity has required that I learn the art of the gear shift. It's a challenge, but a fun one, and one that I hope comes without any dents or bruises to myself or the vehicle. :-)

LoveWorks Team from Point Loma
In a similar vein, something divine happens when God's people live and love the way they should: The church works! People are cared for. Relationships flourish. Ultimately, people see Jesus Christ.  I have been blessed to experience this in a new way since moving here to New Zealand.
  •  While the LoveWorks team was here in Whangarei, a brand new family showed up for Kids Club.  After a high-energy evening of fun and faith, the kids gave a good report to their parents.  The following day, the family showed up again on our doorstep, this time asking for help moving to a new apartment, as they had no transportation and little money to pay for a cab. Because of God's providence and impeccable timing, we happened to have a van available and many helping hands eager to serve that day.  Mission accomplished: 1) Family moved successfully; 2) Relationship begun; 3) Jesus smiled.  Since that time, the kids have been to kids club each week!
  • A few months ago, I was in need of a bed  for my apartment.  A friend heard of my need and gave me a bed right out of her own house! Now I give her swimming lessons and in return I receive a wonderful home-cooked meal with her and her husband nearly every week!
  • Rock Solid: Superheroes Night
    Beautiful sunset at Camp Morely last month
  • For many weeks, we had been praying for a troubled teen in our Rock Solid ministry.  "R" had been removed from a stable home environment and placed back in a volatile situation with 'whanau' (family) heavily involved with drugs and gangs.  As a result, we lost all contact with this young man and feared the dangers that awaited him.  Christians from various churches (including some of you) began to pray for away to re-connect with "R".  Praise the Lord, last week I unexpectedly ran into "R" on the street corner and had a very promising conversation with him after nearly 2 months of silence! In addition, while walking in town yesterday, I heard a voice call out, "Hey!  Miss Alison!" only to turn around and discover that it was "R".   God has answered our prayers and provided us with contact again and new information about his unhealthy living environment.  The battle is on and we continue to pray.  Please pray with us.
Mari, Jacob and Bina: Good friends in Auckland
  • This week I received a pleasant surprise from some missionary friends who used to serve in Papua New Guinea and now live in South Africa.  They had accumulated thousands of frequent flier miles whose expiration date was drawing near.  Interestingly enough, the miles had to be redeemed in Australia or New Zealand.  Who did they know that lived in New Zealand?  Me!  And because of their generosity, I was able to redeem the points for some helpful gift vouchers at local stores. What a blessing!  
My friend Stacey and I
See, the Church works! If you are a Christian, and I mean the real deal, then see if you can't put yourself into the working gears of the Church.  Find someone who has a need and fill it.  See the person who is invisible and love them. Like a droplet of water, take yourself to the lowest place and find joy there.  BE the Church and then watch it work!

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