Since returning from Africa, we have been praying about the direction of our ministry here in Corpus Christi. With our local population being transient, we have struggled to meet the ongoing expenses of the building rent and utilities. Yet, in spite of the struggles, we also see the need for our presence. In the past 9 months we have watched 3 churches in our area close their doors. The crime, addictions and broken lives continue to go on seemingly unchecked. What were we to do?
A friend of mine called me for lunch last week and we met. I shared with him my uncertainty over the next step we were supposed to take and he responded with this story. He had just come from a meeting with 2 other pastors, who were wanting to turn their focus on to our ministry neighborhood. During this conversation, one of the pastors related a conversation he had undertaken with a relative who was a drug dealer in the area. In this conversation, the pastor asked what it would take for the drug dealers to leave. The relative responded with this answer: “If the gospel comes we will leave.” He went on to elaborate that in his lifetime, he had seen the gospel come into an area so forcefully that the drug trade could not continue. When the pastor inquired if just by planting churches and doing ministry the drug dealing would leave…the man corrected him. He restated: “If the gospel comes we will leave.” He went on to elaborate that he was not worried, because he had only witnessed such a happening twice in his life.
For the next 24 hours, I found myself haunted by those words. Last Tuesday night as we were praying, I found the Lord giving me a vision and a renewed sense of purpose for the corner of Staples and Coleman. The vision was simple, the gospel would be proclaimed and lived out at that location 7 days a week. As others begin to join with us to carry this load, this proclamation will ultimately be done 3 times per day, 7 days per week. The Lord also impressed upon me that this message was to be declared, even if no one was present.
This Sunday we began this new chapter in our journey. My wife prayed as I preached to chairs and passers by. Interestingly enough I had just finished reading God’s Smuggler, one of the stories told in that book was of a minister in Holland who was led to do a similar thing. It was noted that even when no one was in the building, the message and invitation always seemed to be received and responded to by someone on the street.