Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
Part of the original DNA of The Christian and Missionary Alliance was a call to go to the “hard places” of the world with the life-changing message of Christ. Simpson declared, “This movement stands for a commitment to reach the most neglected fields, to avoid the beaten tracks of other laborers, to press on to the regions beyond and, instead of building upon another man’s foundation, to preach the Gospel where Christ has not been named.”
Some of those “hard places” are right on our doorstep. Right in the heart of Toronto is an area known as Jane and Finch. The community has one of the highest concentrations of youth, sole-supported families, refugees, low-income earners and public housing tenants of any community in Toronto. One of the heroes of my faith is a dynamic leader named Dan, who has chosen to go to this “hard place.” He is committed to reaching these neglected and marginalized people in the name of Jesus. Dan writes, When you were younger, did you ever snatch some random tool from your family’s garage or shed, hack away, then nearly conclude that the tool was a complete dud, because you could see no results? Remember
the feeling, however, when your grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle made some mysterious adjustment, and, “Poof!”, showed you in an instant the amazing things this allegedly useless tool could do? If you’re like me, you wondered, “What did they manoeuver to make it work? I want that secret!”
Essentially, I think that we’ve done the same thing with the Gospel. We play around with it. We hack folks with it. We advertise that it can do marvelous and wondrous things. Yet sadly, we rarely allow the Father to take it, apply it and spend it through us. “Hard places” become “soft places” when God detonates his Gospel. In a strange twist to our silliness though, we almost tell God where he’s “allowed” to use his Gospel, by assuming that its power occurs primarily in our services, rather than in our service.
Take Sheldon. While walking to my van one day, I noticed a young man with dreads sitting on a milk crate beside some painting supplies, staring intently at something. When I approached him, I saw that he was studying some sort of pamphlet. I asked if he lived nearby, and he responded that he was hired by the Superintendent to paint the garage walls. Seeing that he was glued to this pamphlet, I asked him, “What’s that you’re reading?” “Oh, there’s too many Prophets! How the *$#@* is a man supposed to make sense of all this mess?”
I found out that various family members all had their way of bludgeoning him with why “that other Church” was “of Satan”, and that he needed to “join theirs.” He was frustrated and confused; even his close friends had been pressuring him to “follow the true prophet.” He said that he was at his rope’s end, yet was (in his words) “asking the Almighty what to do.”Sensing an unusual openness to receiving Truth, I sat with this fellow for half an hour, going over how exactly we can know that Jesus is true and real. His eyes lit up, and he was so appreciative. We exchanged numbers, and he wants to visit the weekly fellowship we run. Granted, he could have cussed me out and shooed me away. But he didn’t, and the Lord is slowly watering this seed into fruition, one of many.
At Jane and Finch, statistics show wreckage, weird sins, wandering souls and wasted lives. Some days I can feel the demonic momentum. But if I listen to the cries beneath the cusses and allow God to direct his Gospel, his way, through his method – love – then I’m always startled by the explosive evidence of the Kingdom advancing…one soul at a time.
William Howland, former Mayor of Toronto, and a member of the Alliance, along with his friend, Rev. John Salmon, used to tramp through alleys, feeding the poor, praying over the sick and comforting the sad. They were willing to go to the “hard places” to show the love of Jesus. In his song, “The Regions Beyond”, Simpson penned, “to the hardest of places He calls me to go, not thinking of comfort or ease; the world may pronounce me a dreamer, a fool, enough if the Master I please.” Today, we might call Dan a dreamer or a fool, but I see him as a hero. Perhaps God is stirring a courageous vision in your heart. What is the “hard place” in your world that God is asking you to enter? It might even be in your own backyard!
“The humblest capacity, when strengthened by the Holy Ghost, may know God as no angel ever knew Him, and exult in His immeasurable love, as only His loved ones can.” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website