Posted by: Kerry Spencer | January 11, 2009

Kerry’s January Newsletter

Greetings friends and family!

Sometimes I feel pretty sure that God chose the wrong man for this job. Serving and ministering to the homeless takes compassion, selflessness, patience, boldness, wisdom, and endurance. Therefore, I don’t qualify. Not even close.

Recently in the Day Shelter I was working at the front desk when a drunk guy named Eddie kept coming around. I was getting annoyed by his drunken behavior. I did not show him compassion, I was not seeking to boldly share God’s truth with him, and my patience was wearing thin. I just wished he’d leave, or go take a nap, or something – so I could peacefully get on with my work. Unexpectedly, Eddie somehow brought up the subject of church. It turns out that we each are a part of the same church community (Sojourn). I was quite shocked. Turns out that Eddie had once been panhandling between services when he met one of the deacons who managed to initiate a relationship with him. Now Eddie is a regular on Sunday mornings. Based on our conversation, it appears to me that he is more than just a church-goer. Our dialogue, in the course of his drunkenness, gave evidence that Eddie is a genuine Christian.

This encounter shamed me and encouraged me all at the same time. I was ashamed because I chose not to bother witnessing to this man because of his inebriated state. I had judged him solely because of his outward appearance and behavior. Yet I was immensely encouraged because even despite my lack of effort, God brought about a meaningful conversation between me and Eddie.

Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India from 1901-1951 (without a furlough), once said, “Don’t imagine that by crossing the sea and landing on a foreign shore and learning a foreign lingo you ‘burst the bonds of outer sin and hatch yourself a cherubim.’” In other words, just because one becomes a missionary, pastor, or whatever type of minister, that doesn’t mean they “have arrived.” Neither does becoming a Christian mean that an alcoholic will automatically and immediately overcome their addiction. Though Eddie seems to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation, he apparently still struggles with alcohol. Likewise, though I live and minister in a homeless shelter, I certainly have not gained any special status, nor have I gained any amazing abilities. I’m no cherubim.

The Apostle Paul called himself the least of the apostles and the chief of sinners. He also wrote, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:18). I definitely can relate to Paul’s sense of inadequacy. On my own, I would certainly fail miserably as a minister. I acknowledge that it truly is only by God’s grace that I am able to do any good here at Jeff. St. By His grace I have many meaningful interactions with people like Eddie.

It was also Paul who wrote, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong . . .” (1 Cor. 1:26-27). When I read this I think, “Maybe God has called the right man after all.”

Please pray for us:

• that the Lord would cause us “to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people” (1 Thess. 3:12).
• that we would “make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19).

As always, thanks so much for your prayers and support of our ministry here at Jeff. St. I am blessed to be serving the Lord here.

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