Shannon Falls, August 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Know us by our fruits

If I was honest with myself (and the humble few that read my ramblings), I have felt more like myself in the last week-two than I have since we got here. Now I do understand that anyone would probably feel "off" moving to a new country. Yes, my new country is just north of my old country and many of the things here are quite similar to America, but it still feels different. I'm finally learning my way around, I know street names!, and I can drive comfortably to just about anywhere.

Maybe having Pia (our exchange student who lived with us for five months 18 months ago) with us is helping. It feels as though she never left! We have done quite a few touristy/sight-seeing things with her here, so maybe getting out of the apartment more has had an impact. Maybe it's having the First Baptist Biloxi mission trip team here, so it feels like "home" has come to Vancouver. It was awesome to see so many recognizable, smiling faces on Monday afternoon!!

The gray skies have a big impact on my attitude. I just want to sleep! I'm a little worried about the winter due to all the rain and dreariness, so I'm trying to enjoy our "dry" season right now. Our community pool is heated, so even on cool 60/70 degree temp days, Hayden and I can still venture to the clubhouse/pool and meet families. We have some other avenues we're exploring for us to meet moms/families. David has stepped up searching out volunteer and plug-in opportunities. He's also coaching middle school-age football. We're trying to get ourselves out into the community and learn where people are. As those who journey here find out, the majority are not interested in God or religion. Many, many families/individuals have more money than they know what to do with, so they feel they don't need anything, least of all a God they can't see.

Matthew 7:15-20 says,    15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits."

We desire for those we meet to know us by our fruits. As odd as this may sound to some, we don't walk around the streets 24/7 toting our Bibles or stand on street corners preaching. We are meeting people where they are. We are loving on our neighbors (or neighbours) one at a time. Sometimes I feel like those reading my FB statuses may see that Hayden and I are at the park or pool or doing something else and think we're not making any impact. We are, I assure you! This is not the Bible-believing, everyone-goes-to-church-regardless-of-what-I-say-Monday-to-Friday-and-do-on-Saturday-night South. We've had to find our way in this city and understand where we can best fit in. It is a little difficult to explain. We have to SHOW people that they need Him; that's difficult when they have EVERYTHING else they could possibly need or want.

Our neighbors know we're here. And not just because of the noise we make! They've seen our interns in action, they know we're church planters/missionaries. When our downstairs neighbor that we met at the pool asked if we were missionaries, she knew exactly why we were here. And yes, she's a Christian but she was receptive and open to establishing a relationship with us.

I'll close with this: I told David one night that the biggest change for me was adjusting to the fact that everywhere we've been, we've met our friends through church. Here, we are the church. We're having to meet fellow Christians without the aid of Sunday School or morning worship services. And it's been possible. However, we are meeting lots of unbelievers and we must form relationships with them. And sometimes that means not making the first thing I say to them, "Are you a Christian?!" I have to say, "Hi, I'm Jamie and this is Hayden. Would you like to arrange a play date or get together for dessert/coffee sometime?" We have to be open and be ourselves and our fruits will tell them why we're here.


Nicole said...

Great post, Jamie! SO important for everyone around us to know us by our fruits. It's a good reminder for us in the "everybody-goes-to-church-South" too, haha!

Glad y'all have some familiar faces there this week. Hampton and I are looking forward to a visit (maybe in the Spring??).

We are praying for y'all!!