Thursday, November 02, 2006

Holiness and 'Just Showing Up!'

Sometimes, just showing up makes a difference.

Dr. Carolyn Knight from Wesley College in Florence, Mississippi started showing up several years ago outside of strip clubs in our community to try to talk to those going in about the Lord. Feeling called thereafter to the mission fields of the world she and her husband spent several years serving as a missionary in various countries of Africa. But she has since returned to Mississippi and has started showing up again outside the three strip clubs in Jackson, MS.

Except now she is there with college students in tow to try and evangelize any who will engage with them in conversation.

In the couple of months they have been taking their stand one kid has been punched. Carolyn has been kicked. A couple of students had a dog unleashed on them.

But they keep showing up.

This columnist was enamored enough with their persistence that I joined them one evening to stand outside these “adult” establishments to hold up a sign promising prayer and to observe. This isn’t a ministry for the feint of heart.

In my short time there one of the managers came out to threaten harm, yell, call police and laughingly promise a law suit. Even so, wearing a dress shirt and tie and holding a sign that read “We are praying for you” it was interesting to see pricey vehicles drive up, see that respectable citizens were standing outside and decide to drive on and do something else with their evening.

Not long after my visit Dr. Knight sent an e-mail that certainly encouraged:

I just wanted to tell you some good news. Today in chapel one of the security guards from (one of the clubs) showed up. He cried during the service and wants to come again. He shared that he had quit his job and desired a new life. He also said that another security guard had quit and that an assistant manager had quit. He said it was all due to the fact that we had started coming down there. Praise the Lord!

The secret? No secret, really. There is so much about effective ministry that is easily understood. Prayerfully show up. Play it by ear. Be willing to stay kind, gentle, reasonable. Be courteous but also be able to challenge. Don’t back down. Meet bullying with a heart of love.

Last weekend I saw the movie Amistad for the second or third time. I was impressed again that director Steven Spielberg showed the “religious right” of that day outside of the ongoing events with the Africans off the slave ship in a persistent, kind, gentle, reasonable, courteous, challenging, don’t back-down kind of way. Dressed in black and with Bibles and a song on their lips they were just always there providing the contra mundum (against the world) perspective in a nearly impossible situation.

And against enormous odds the Amistad Africans were eventually sent back to their homeland.

There is something here we need to be inspired by. Do something momentous in the culture wars if you can. Show up at the dark places of your culture – the abortion clinics, the prisons, the nursing homes, the strip clubs, the hospices. We should have a heart for effectiveness in these places, but even if our persuasive tongues fail us and we wonder what good we might do it is still amazing what happens when you persistently show up.

Holiness and decency taking a stand still makes a difference.



At 10:39 PM, Blogger Marshall said...

I must say that I am very proud of my alma mater. Praise the Lord for what he has done there! I know almost all of those invovled personally. That is an awesome story.

At 6:40 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Great. More self-made "martyrs". What do you expect if you stand outside a club and harass people? I could stand out there and try to sell them on Buddhism and I'd probably get cussed, kicked, and spat on too. But, these brave little warriors can pin on another badge of honor and tell their Sunday School class how they are "doing battle with the forces of evil".

Thank goodness people like you do not get to decided what adults can and can not see.

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Brett said...

I travel some and was in a fairly small town in Kansas last week doing some consulting work for the city. One of the ladies told me that a strip club had purchased a restaurant in town, and it was a big deal because it was very visible from the highway, one of the main routes through the town. She drove us by during lunch one day. There is a strip mall nearby where we had some lunch. There were some vacant shops there, and I was told that there is a movement to find a church to go into one of the vacant shops because if a church goes in before the strip club gets it's liquor license, they won't be able to get one because it would be too close to a church.

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Mission Lawrence said...

I've posted a segment of this on my own blog, Mission Lawrence. Thanks for this great reminder of how we need to be reaching out around us to see people converted to Christ.

God bless you.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Chloe Smith said...

Praise the Lord. Criticism a very small price for even one
soul free to walk in the light.

Chloe Smith


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