“Wherever you are…be Jesus”
That’s what I heard the Holy Spirit say to me as I stepped into the town and felt immediately drawn to a lady who was begging on the street. She spoke very little English but told me her name was Maria. As I knelt, I felt the Father’s love for her and, asking if I could get her some food and pray for her, she nodded; she seemed to understand. A woman passing by who had seen me pray, said, “I think we all need that…I need that!” I wanted to talk to her too and offer to pray for her, but smiling, she shook her head and walked on. She wasn’t ready.
When Jesus called the disciples, he said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” and leaving everything, they followed him. As they listened to him teach, as they saw him pray and spend time with his Father, and as they watched him powerfully demonstrating the Kingdom with signs and wonders, he was showing them how to do the same; Jesus was teaching them how to fish! I love reading how they came back to Jesus, reporting excitedly, that demons had submitted to their authority and how they had seen signs and wonders in his name. They had stepped out in obedience and with childlike faith and wonder, they discovered this was what they were born to do!
Whenever I read the book of Acts, I am provoked by the wholehearted, joy-filled commitment of the disciples and the early church to simply follow Jesus and obey his words. This week I was reading about Paul and Silas in Thessalonica preaching the gospel. Some believed and followed, whilst others rejected their message but despite the persecution, they often experienced they continued to make Jesus known. As Phil Wilthew says in his book, Multiplying Disciples, ‘When Jesus sent his disciples to bring good news, they discovered that it is one of the most joy-filled and life-giving privileges on planet earth’ They were ‘all in’…I wonder, are we?
Jesus has sent us to shine and be a light in every place we go. The Kingdom is not meant to stay within the four walls of the church, it’s meant to reach and influence every area of society. Jesus said, ‘Freely you’ve received, freely give’’ and like the disciples, this is what we are born to do!
At least once a week I go and sit in a coffee shop in our town and pray and then wait to see who the Father sends. As I go out for a walk too, I ask who he wants me to meet along the way. Like Jesus who appointed and sent the seventy-two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go, he now sends us. It’s a partnership where he leads and we follow and get to join in with what he is already doing. Only God can draw someone to Jesus and open their heart to him, but he has sent us on ahead to point people to him. Mostly as we go we are scattering gospel seeds, but let’s always be looking for the one who Jesus is calling to himself. Jesus said to look for people of peace; those who welcome you, listen to you and lean in wanting to know more. Why not practice asking the Father, whenever you’re out somewhere who you can share his heart with and show his love to and then be noticing how he gets your attention and who he leads you to.
A Park Story…
Just recently when I was out walking, I saw a lady sitting on a bench with two crutches next to her, and feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me, I stopped to speak to her. Holy Spirit nudges for me are usually a sudden thought followed by a few seconds of crazy courage. Pointing to her crutches, I asked how she was doing and what she’d done. Tanya told me she had just had a hip operation and was out exercising it and noticing she was happy to chat I sat down with her. While we were sitting talking, a rather exuberant puppy bounded over to me quickly followed by its owner who stopped to apologize and stayed to chat. Now there were three of us!
While the dog owner was talking I felt prompted to ask about a rugby logo on his top and whether he played. He told me he’d been part of the Saracens Academy, which I knew to be a prestigious rugby training school, but he was no longer able to play because of some injuries to his ankle. He said if he played again, he’d probably end up in a wheelchair. I could see his disappointment and sensed he was carrying some fear. It always takes courage to step out and offer to pray but I know that whenever I see the opposite of God’s goodness it’s an invitation for us to pray and release God’s Kingdom. I told him I was a Christian, that I knew God was a Father who had a good plan for his life and I asked if anyone had offered to pray for his ankle. He said no one had and I was about to offer to pray for him when two people stopped by to talk to him and his dog and the moment quickly passed. Even though I didn’t get to pray with the man I was able to speak words of hope over him and what was amazing was how it then drew the attention of the lady who was still sitting next to me.
After the man walked on Tanya shyly asked whether perhaps I would pray for her. She began telling me she was an orthodox believer and how every morning she lit a candle, sat in front of an icon, and prayed to God. As I listened to her, I wanted her to know there was more and I shared my story with her of encountering Jesus and about God’s love and his invitation for us to know him personally. When I spoke about knowing Jesus, she was visibly moved and wanted to tell me a story from her childhood. Growing up under the Communist regime in Ukraine had been hard but her mum had been a spiritual influence in her life that she had never forgotten. Even though Tanya didn’t seem ready to want to take that next step, it was such a privilege to be able to share the gospel with her and tell her there was more!
Every day Jesus is sending us as a message of his love to people who are far from him. and it’s not about methods or our performance but about ‘being Jesus wherever we go’, He wants to shine through you and me and it’s not hard because being a fisher of men is what we are born to be.
If you want to read more stories like these and be encouraged, I have written a book called, Go: Everyday Stories of Stopping to Love’ which you can find on Amazon