IMPACT 

Have you ever had one of those friends that you don’t see often, maybe once or twice a year but when you do, the visit is better than a thousand visits from a thousand friends? You cram in stories, updates, heartbreaks, victories; you cry, laugh, hurt for each other and celebrate together. You challenge each other to be better, to press on, to do good, and to stay focused.
Last night I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning having one of those visits, a visit that leaves its mark, a visit which has an IMPACT.
As I listened to my friend share about their new home, new church and what God is doing in their lives, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and cheer her on. More than that, the Spirit reminded me of the simplicity of the gospel message, the simplicity of living out the great commission. Once again reminding me, how we as a culture, and in many of our churches cultures, make it so complicated, so involved, and are so blinded to what the very nature of being a Christian should be. Simple, stripped down, honest, and real.
My friends had prayed a simple prayer over their new home that God would use it however He wants, for whomever He wants and that He would use them.
They had found a new church that very much felt like home when they walked in, but totally unlike their previous small country church it had dozens of places where one could plug in. Programs, studies, ministries, groups; stuff that at one time they may have longed for. But as they prayed and asked God what they were to do they began to see with spiritual eyes the busyness and the inward focus. Oh don’t get me wrong or take offence if you have a busy church, I am not saying there is no value in programs; people need to grow, to feel they belong, connect and encourage one another. What God was showing them was that they were not to over use the opportunity of plugging in and in turn sequester themselves from being available to the world.
She told me a story about her husband going to the store and seeing a woman outside in tears. As he entered the store he wondered what to do and said “ok Lord, if she is still there when I come out I will talk to her.” Of course, she was, so he took a deep breath and plunged in. Asking her if she was ok and then not walking away when she said she was fine, but pressing on and telling her she didn’t look fine and he would like to help. She went on to tell him a story of tragedy and heart brake, of sin, of loss and of loneliness. My friend was not with him at the time, she was out having a busy day with her children and so when, just a few minutes after arriving home, her husband walked in with this disheveled, tear streaked woman she couldn’t help but feel flustered and tired. The Holy Spirit quickly reminded her of their prayer and she graciously set out to make a meal for the “whole” family. Now I am not sure how, or when this happened but at some point during this brief visit, her daughter had an accident with a shovel which somehow managed to hit her in the head. She was in need of a visit to the emergency room and stitches, but Instead of rushing off to the hospital and having her husband take the young woman home, my friend asked her to come with her, if she wanted to go home she could drop her off. That drive was used by God in such a special way, as the two found that they shared a common heartbreak, the loss of a child and the young woman asked how in the world she got through it. God opened the door for my friend to share God’s love, grace and strength. The girl didn’t choose to go home, she stayed outside of the hospital and struggled with God, then she went in and sat quietly with my friend just to be near her and in God’s presence. She then hugged her and thanked her for her love.
I don’t know if she will ever see that young woman again. But as we talked, we both wondered aloud how many people in our churches would have reached out to a stranger, crying on the corner. I would love to say our whole church, or all of the Christians I know…but it sadly it isn’t true. We take classes on evangelism and study our bibles, we try to be Christ like and we donate and volunteer but this takes outreach to a whole new level…or does it?
Luke 10:25-27 tells us the well known parable of the Good Samaritan. We all know it. The priest and the Levite, the two people who should have been most likely to reach out to one of their own people – a Jew who was in need; didn’t do it! They walked by, they even crossed the road to be further away and ignore him easier. It was the Samaritan, the one who was most disliked and shunned by Jews that stopped to help.
Here is the bottom line…will the world do a better job of taking care of people and the needs of others than we, the christian’s, the Christ followers will or even do?
James 2:14-17 warns us about having a faith without deeds! Apparently the struggle was as real then as it is now. Are we so busy building our faith, building the church, taking care of the comfort of those in the church that we forget to look outside, we don’t have time to stop, or the courage to wipe a strangers tears?
I read an article last week which included the results of an exhaustive four year survey looking into what newly saved, unchurched people were looking for in a church. Over and over again the results showed that they are not looking for lights and glamour, they don’t want a hundred programs or celebrations. They wanted simple, stripped down, honest, real. They wanted the truth, honest heartfelt worship, they wanted a class to teach them the basics of faith and spur them on in how to grow and they wanted to get plugged into a ministry which made a difference in the world. They wanted to find ways to make the same IMPACT in the world and in people’s lives that Jesus had in theirs. They wanted to bless the Lord from their hearts and then go out and share the good news! The survey went on to show that very few of them had found churches that they could see tangibly doing this, being real, out there in the community, teaching people to see needs, reach out and tell the truth of God’s love.
I want to be and be apart of a church which acts like Jesus, better than the world! I want to make Isaiah 58 personal…healing the broken hearted, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, loosing the chains. Showing people God’s love.
My visit last night made an IMPACT on me and who I want to be as a Christ follower, as a wife and mother, as a neighbour and as a Pastor. I want my life to be used by Christ to IMPACT the community of unbelievers that He places me in. I want to walk where Jesus walked and talk to those Jesus talked to.
Will you be available to make an IMPACT?
— Maren Brandsma

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