Welcome to Blogapalooza.
I want you to meet some new people. I asked various friends and bloggers to share with you this month on my blog. So, all through the month of June I will feature different voices from around the world. Today I would like to introduce you to...I first met Dave on the mission field. Dave and his wife, Ev, joined the staff of YWAM Croatia around the same time that my wife and I did. Dave helped shape my vision and passion for non-traditional church all those years ago. I still recall some of the conversations we had about ministry. Time and seasons have passed and now Dave and his wife live in Florida. Dave has been writing a blog and I wanted you to get to know him a bit through his writing. (FYI, Dave is writing a book as well!) Read this piece Dave sent and then check out his blog!
Going to See Darlene
First of all, thanks Rick for the invite to share on your blog. I appreciate your love and friendship through the years, and this opportunity is a gift for which I'm truly grateful.
Earlier this evening I announced to my wife, "I'm going to see Darlene." Lemme 'splain.
A church I pastored for a while (that just closed) had an unusual sense of marketing and evangelism. One of the things we did was give away koozies. For the uninitiated, a koozie is something you put a beverage in to keep it cool. We live in Florida after all. On the outside of the koozie it said "CrossBridge Church. The church with the free koozies." We gave out hundreds of them.
Now, obviously many people use koozies for beer. But they also use them for soft drinks and to hold their pencils and pens. Anyway, people thought it was funny to have a koozie from a church. That was the point.
Close to my house is a liquor store. One night shortly after the church started public meetings, I visited the drive-through window and after making my purchase I gave them 4-5 koozies for all the employees. They were amused, as was my hope, and I got to tell them about our church.
A week or so later I went through the drive through again. I was trying to get there before the store closed and I was barefoot and in my pajama pants. One of the employees heard me and ran up to the window, "Are you that preacher?" I answered in the affirmative, and she told me that her husband passed away that morning." She came to work anyway because her fellow employees were her primary social support system. Her name is Darlene.
I prayed with Darlene through the window of the liquor store, since I was...uhhh...underdressed. I made a point of seeing her frequently over the next few weeks. God touched her life through this experience, and He touched mine too. She even came to church with us for a while.
Since then I've gotten to know a couple of the other ladies who work there. When I drive through their faces light up and they always ask about my family. It's not unusual for us to get into a conversation about God and His love for us.
Everybody is looking for some love. Everybody. Darlene and her co-workers have been judged enough by Christians who feel it is their job to be the moral police of the world. But these ladies responded when someone finally treated them with respect and dignity, listening to their hearts and becoming aware of their needs. I think that's how Jesus was. He was a friend of sinners. He was judged because of the company he kept. But He loved well.
Here's the deal. I'm Darlene. You're Darlene. We all have hurts and needs and none of us are perfect. There are things about all of us that (if known) would make us the recipients of criticism and judgment from others. But Jesus didn't judge us, only loved us. When He came to us He was going to see Darlene.