The 28th Synod affirmed a five line Call for the Uniting Church in Queensland in discerning the future of the Church. This edition we look at the fourth phrase: Witnessing in faith.
IN MY current ministry role I am working to make connections between our church and a growing suburb on the south side of Brisbane.
The first day I visited the area I drove to a small block of shops to see if there was a place I could grab a coffee and do my daily journal and wait upon God. There was no cafe, but there was a food store where I could buy a drink so I sat at a table out the front sipping an iced coffee and took in the surroundings as I read scripture.
As I sat there I sensed the prompting of the Spirit to go down into the park adjacent to the shops. I got up and wandered down to see what was there and who might be around. I noticed there were seven or eight teenage boys riding their bikes and scooters around the skate bowl. I wandered over to watch.
After a few minutes the oldest of the group rode up to me. “How’s it going?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m pretty good thanks. How about you?” I replied.
“Do you come here much?” I asked.
“All the time. We love this place,” he said with a smile.
“Yeah? You guys are pretty good. How long have you been coming?”
And so began a great conversation with an 18-year-old who I would soon learn loved riding, looked after his younger mates, had experienced real struggles and pain in his life and was passionate about helping other youth in the community. We discussed everything from BMX to martial arts; great holidays to current work; attitudes towards alcohol to philosophies of life; and from religion to Jesus – and he did most of the talking!
I could see that my new friend was a real seeker and was really sincere in growing as a person.
After an hour or so I realised I had to go.
“Mate,” I said. “I’m really sorry but I have a meeting I have to go to. But I’ve really enjoyed our conversation and would love to hear more of your story. Will you be here same time next week?”
“Maybe, but it depends upon my work shifts.”
“OK. Hopefully I’ll see you again.”
I shook his hand and began to walk away.
I turned around. “Yeah?”
“I really enjoyed our conversation, too. Can I have your number? I’d really like to have lunch with you sometime.”
Since that day I’ve caught up with my BMX buddy several times. We’ve had some great conversations and I’m really enjoying getting to know him. I am able to share my faith freely and believe that God has significant stuff in store for our friendship.
I can’t help but think that this is what witnessing in faith is about – real relationships in real places where real people gather in our communities.
The last thing Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended to heaven was to go and be his witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8).
When he trained his disciples in mission he taught them to go to households, build genuine relationships with the people there and share the good news of the Kingdom of God through word and deed (c.f. Matthew 10, Luke 9 and 10).
God is already at work in the lives of people in our communities.
Where are the households and places that people now gather in our local community?
How might we prayerfully go and join them and develop genuine relationships?
What might be the good news for them?
How could they come to discover something of the love and grace of Jesus Christ through you?