By Chad Clement
Have you ever had your life stripped down to the bare bones? Usually it takes a cataclysmic event to separate us from the possessions that we love, like a divorce or a house fire, maybe a death in the family. You find yourself in a place where the things that you relied upon, your life tools, are no longer at your disposal and it’s just you and your decisions. We all like to think that we would excel in this situation, but you never really know until you face it.
I like to use Michael Phelps the Olympic gold medalist as an example. Michael may have a tour bus, handlers, personal trainers, PR people and others helping him, but at some point he has to strip down to his Speedo, stand on the blocks and prepare to be tested. Nothing else matters at this point but preparation form and speed.
Six months ago, my family was pretty normal. We were serving and giving our lives away to serve inner-city children. My wife Anna was the principal of the school that she founded that provided free Christian education to desperately poor children. I was serving as the Children’s Minister and together in the summer we were feeding 2300 kids a day and teaching 10 weeks of bible school in the park we built. Ok, so maybe that’s not “Normal”, but outside of work we were like most couples with three children, busy raising them and enjoying life.
However, there was a problem in paradise, God was laying on my heart to plant a church to duplicate the work we were doing. I thought perhaps we might return to Dallas where I was familiar with the inner-city areas. To be honest, the depth of our roots, the momentum of our lives and my resistance to change deterred me from getting a shovel and digging up my family and moving them to a situation that seemed less secure.
What I failed to recognize was that the only thing secure in this life, the only thing that can’t fail, is when a child of God is obedient to the voice of God. Every plan and scheme draw up by men, including myself has the potential of failure. The failure comes when we refuse to listen and obey.
I have to say that in our case God was gracious to our family. He didn’t sit quietly aside as we moved on in our direction in disobedience. He pulled us up out of the ground like a sapling and took us where He pleased. From the perspective of the sapling we just saw roots breaking, leaves falling off and bark being stripped away. It is a traumatic event for a tree to be transplanted, but the careful arborist knows the right season and series of steps to ensure future health.
After many sleepless nights, agonizing over the loss of so many things we thought were precious to us, God has corrected our priorities, planted us in moist fertile ground and we have begun to bear fruit for Him.
We are in a little apartment south of Quail Springs Mall, surrounded by lost and hurting people, who God loves enough to send us to minister to them. He loves the children who normally get a free lunch at school, but in the summer that turns into a question mark, followed by despair. He loves the mothers, who are the second or third generation of women living in poverty. He loves the fathers, who just a few days back were little boys frightened and confused because they had no father to teach them or provide for them.
If you have never known God’s love, come this summer and witness as He shows His faithfulness and pours out His love on these families. If you know God’s love, this is your chance to be fruitful. Come this summer and experience the joy of working shoulder to shoulder with the Lord of the Harvest in His fields. We will be feeding 600-1000 lunches a day, teaching the bible and breaking the chains of sin with the truth of God’s word. Take it from one who has been stripped bare; it is a privilege to be completely poured out for His purposes.