Friday, March 31, 2017

No Mistakes

Ted and I were in ministry in Houston for ten years. ...three of them in the church- with -walls, and seven in the church- without- walls. After years of serving the Lord in churches with walls in Minneapolis, Dallas, Palo Alto and Bakersfield, it was harder for me to adjust to the church-without-walls than it was for Ted. Of course!

We went to East and Southeast Asia after leaving our fruitful California pastorate. Before settling into a new pastorate in Houston God's plan for us was that we experience being in ministry in six countries where there were millions and millions of people who had never heard the Gospel even once. The last country was Viet Nam,  as it fell. We flew out of Saigon with a plane load of Catholic nuns and orphaned babies. Every passenger was given a baby to hold.

In our new church and city, we were ready for new fruit. Within three years we were out of the church-with-walls and turned loose in a city of three million people.  This is what God did: A couple of days after our last day in the church-with-walls in Houston I fulfilled a commitment to speak for the Torrey Conference at Biola/Talbot in Los Angeles, California. The subject that had been assigned to me months before was "The Hazards of Full-Time Work".  There were four other speakers...all men with big names. Mine wasn't. We met for prayer early on Monday morning. I was scheduled to be the kick-off speaker before thousands of students and faculty on a subject that was about one of those "hazards". We had just, for the first time in our lives, entered the "church-without-walls." I told the other speakers my worry about downloading my fears on these young people that were training for ministries around the world.  All of them said: "We've been there. The Lord has done this. You cannot believe the doors that will open for you and your husband!" They were right! When I returned to Houston my Ted had rented an office, hired a secretary and we were on our way into a ministry we could not have imagined. For the next seven years lost folk from every socioeconomic level.came to Christ. Many of those dear, precious people continue to bear fruit that remains. How I love them! How God loves them!

We were invited to speak to the leadership of Young Life. We had worked years before with this ministry to unchurched kids when in Dallas Seminary. Having been "unchurched" kids ourselves we were eager to encourage and teach these Houston leaders. Meeting over,  we moved across the room to meet our host couple and thank them for their hospitality. We had no idea that our host was the District Attorney of Harris County. We had been pleading our case before the D.A.!  In his Texas-gentleman's soft drawl, he said: "I have been listening to you two and I believe you may have an answer for my question. My law partner was the attorney involved in Watergate. He is not sure that Chuck Colson is truly a Christian. What do you think?" We jumped on that:. "Chuck is coming to Houston this week to speak for a breakfast. Would you and your wife be our guests and you can decide for yourself." In his message Chuck said this to a couple of thousand people, many of whom were attorneys: "The only difference between you and me is that I got caught!" Whew! The District Attorney of Harris County later resigned and joined Chuck in Prison Fellowship. He is still living.  Chuck Colson is in Heaven. His TV show, "Worldview from the Colson Center" continues as an excellent, galvanizing resource for such a time as this.

I had been very sick with allergies to mold and pine during our ten years in Houston.  We  moved to a beautiful suburb to see if I would be headache-free. It didn't help. We moved back to our home in town. I became even more ill and had to take time off from my daily radio program. I slid into a depression. I knew many scriptures but I could remember only one. The power of the Lord in that scripture and the prayers of the saints gradually brought me up and out of a dark place. The allergy clinic had no solutions and told me it wouldn't help to move back to a dry climate. ...but it did. My dear husband's agape love brought us back to lots of sunshine and humidity-free way of a church-with-walls which were not yet even built. Ted and others built the church. Three years later we re-entered the church-without- walls. For nearly thirty-three years our home has hosted thousands of people who have needed to be here.  I disciple regularly, and just launched another lovely young woman to teach others in her own home in another community. That's what I do. That's what I am assigned to do: teach and let go...teach and let go. Not unlike parenting. Do I attend a church?  Yes,  but only a church whose leadership understands that discipleship is not about volume, but is about quality...working our way out of a job, then doing it again. And again. And again.

God has a Plan. He will not be dissuaded by our whines and whimpers. These writings underscore my understanding of the Truth that our Lord makes no mistakes. None whatsoever.

 A generation ago (or is it "two"?) we were singing "For Those Tears I Died." in our Young Life clubs. Some of you will remember.


...and Jesus said, "Come to the water, stand  by my side.
I know you are thirsty; you won't be denied.
I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried.
And I strove to remind you: "For those tears I died".

Love,  Jo