Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Gathering

Greetings friends and families! I want to share with you a bit of a story from our last week. (Pictured left to right: Andrew, Evan, Christian on beach in New Zealand)

We've gotten involved in ministry connected with PACT called "The Gathering." It is a street church for the homeless as well as the people that probably wouldn't come to a church anyways. The Gathering happens on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. The Gathering was started by an ex-professional boxer named Ben. One day, as Ben was jogging, he was pressed to share his faith with 2 men on the street who were getting drunk. From this conversation, The Gathering was formed. We attended on Sunday morning this last week. At all the meetings, the head guys, Ben and Mike (one of the other leaders), prepare a meal for all that attend. After everyone eats and hangs out, one of the 2 guys share a small message, and usually tie in the Gospel in some way. The Sunday morning Gathering is pretty low key and has fewer people. Last night, we attended our first Wednesday night Gathering. It looked different than Sunday. We met in a small outdoor shopping center. On our way, we picked up a man named Trevor who has been blind for 8 years. Trevor has 5 sons, the oldest is 19. Trevor is not a believer. We made small conversation with Trevor about where we were from and also about his home life. After arriving to the location, about 25-30 people showed up to join in the meal and hear the word spoken. A good percentage of the people attending were under the influence of some substance, but they are the reason this ministry exists.

We recognized a few of the people because they had also attended on Sunday morning. It was cool to see their commitment. During the meal time, we began to notice a lady walking around. She was very obviously drunk and possibly on drugs but as the evening progressed we noticed there was something more. After eating, Ben began to share a small message. He shared about how our world may seem messed up and rough place, but that God is here. God loves us and he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins. He referred to the fact that our world may be messed up, but hell is worse. God is present in this world, so imagine a world without God. All the while during his message, the woman I referred to would walk around mumbling, and getting in peoples faces. We began to notice that every time Ben said the name of Jesus, this lady would act out more harshly. We recall a few times, after Ben said Jesus, the lady would stand up, point her finger and say, "Why do we have to talk about Him (Jesus)? He is already here." This happened many times through the evening. As she would walk around, people would get distracted by her, but Ben would quickly grab their attention. Satan did not want these people to hear the message of Christ this night. In seeing this all occur, we were reminded of 2 scriptures:

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them." Matthew 18:20

"Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak." Luke 4:41

It was very clear to us that God was present at this meeting and He has authority over satan. We are going to continue attending The Gathering for the rest of our time here.

In our time here, we have also gotten involved in a few more things. One Monday and Wednesday mornings, Ben and Mike (same guys that do The Gathering) host a boxing/training time at the PACT building for high school guys. They teach the guys good technique and healthy exercises, feed the guys breakfast, and give a small testimony/message at the end. Evan really enjoys being a part of this because he loves to box, and its a great way to reach out to these guys. There is also a guy who works for PACT named Glen. His works primarily with elementary aged kids and their families. On wednesday, Glen has a small group of students that he takes around to places and spends time with. This week, we joined him and took about 6 boys to the local swimming pool. We got to share with them what we have been doing and they asked lots of questions. It was great, and we plan on continuing ministry with Glen. Last but not least, we have also been working with a guy named Ian Foster. He runs The South Auckland Food Bank. We have been helping him around the food bank with organization and lots of lifting of heavy things! Its what teenage guys were made for!We have had a great time here getting involved with PACT and meeting so many people. God is definitely at work here in Papatoetoe. We are going away for the next week to see some sights and reflect. We will post and update as we have internet access.
Prayer Requests:

  • The Gathering- Ben and Mike & the people that attend
  • PACT-The boxing ministry-Glen and the elementary school boys-All the school involvement of PACT staff
  • The South Auckland Food Bank-Ian Foster and family Del (wife), Liam, Holly, Jensen
  • And prayer for our travel over the next week.

Grace and Peace,

1 comment:

Auntie Amanda said...

I'm so proud of all of you guys and how God is using you on this trip. At church today people who work with nonprofits had lunch together, and who else do I sit right across from but a couple who is in charge of Young Life Nashville... it was awesome.
Praying for safe travel for all of you!