My church has always had Missions meetings. When I first started going there, we frequently had presentations by local missionaries. After a while, we weren’t having presentations anymore, possibly because the monthly meeting was so poorly attended. At some point during my most recent absence, the meetings apparently stopped altogether. When we got our new pastor, though, our Missions Director decided to move back to monthly meetings.
The first of those monthly meetings happened last month, during what has been a record-setting heat wave. We ended up with over two straight months of triple-digit temperatures before things cooled down. During the meeting, someone mentioned handing out water at a biker rally that a couple of our members were planning to go to. We made plans to get some waterproof labels and put our church’s information on the bottles along with a Bible verse.
Shortly after that discussion, the meeting nearly ended due to a lack of ideas. And then the pastor said something that ended up being magical. “Where is your ministry?” That question somehow narrowed the focus for everyone and the ideas were nearly constant for at least another half hour. We planned to hand out water at several other events, we planned to enter a float in a parade, and we talked about Halloween and the upcoming Viola Webb special offering. It was awe inspiring. I’ve never seen our church so fired up about missions.
And the magic didn’t stop with that meeting. We had our first event giving out water at a Cruise Night at The Pad near our church. We were well received and the stories I heard afterward were wonderful. Then came a softball tournament. Not only was it another great experience (and some of the stories brought tears to my eyes), but afterward, the tournament coordinators said that we’re invited to any future tournaments they put on. Alcohol consumption was way down, there was only one fight that happened after we left, and there was just a general change in attitude.
One story I heard that was pretty amazing: when the team was praying, a man stopped, set down his beer, and took his hat off to join them in prayer. When they were done, he put his hat back on, threw the beer away, and headed onto the field.
The next water bottle event wasn’t actually in Topeka. A soldier’s funeral was taking place in Holton (about a half hour away) and Topeka’s resident claim to shame had plans to be there. The Walmart there was willing to donate the water, and the Patriot Guard was going to be there as well. So, with only a couple days’ notice, church members headed out of town to hand out water. There were over 500 bikes that gathered to protect the soldier’s family from haters. With double riders on many of the bikes, that meant close to 1000 attendees at this soldier’s funeral. That’s awesome all by itself. More awesome was what happened when said bikers received refreshments from the church. They would accept the water, read the Bible verse, then stand out in front of where the water was being distributed and share testimonies and praises for God. Everyone that went couldn’t talk about it without tearing up. I hadn’t known about it until afterward, but just my imagining of it, based on the stories that were shared in church the next day, is beautiful beyond words.
This weekend is another ball tournament, and the church will be back out with water. And I’m willing to bet that God will make His presence know. But the real trick is that we’re doing something. We found a way to get out in the community so that we can watch God work through us. There’s a group at the church praying for 100 new members. And guess what? We had 4 people come forward this weekend to begin the process of joining. With the amazing stories coming out of our water efforts, I’m thinking we’ll have no problem hitting that 100.