Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sure of Our Calling

I was on my friend Jay Hardwick's blog catching up on what he's doing in Columbia, S.C. As I was reading through his most recent post, I felt like he was telling my story, yet in a different setting. Here is an excerpt from that post.

"I sort of wondered why God would call us back to our hometown when Jesus didn't do so well when He passed through His hometown (Matthew 13:57-58). :-)
Not long after we started the journey, the unique opportunity that God was giving us became clear. Because we grew up here, there was a bit of street credibility that we could leverage. We've paid our dues here. We know the culture. We know the people. We know the lay of the land. We have an inside track."

Have you ever watched one of those TV police dramas, where a narrator comes on and announces, "This is based on a true story, but the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent." That's what was going through my mind as I read through Jay's blog post.

Why would God send me back to the streets of Troy? I had to pray long and hard about coming back to this impoverished, inner-city neighborhood when the inviation came. In the fall of 2005 my friend and mentor, Rev. Perry Jones, told me about the closing the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church and the opportunity to come here and have a gospel presence and to make Christ known. The burden to return to my old stomping ground came several years prior to this opportunity, but I fought it and tried to do other things, ministry things even, that did not work out. Now that we are here in Troy, I know in the core of my being that this is where God wants us to be. Two and a half years into this and we are seeing some amazing thinga unfold before our eyes.

I have come to see that my youth and upbringing and inner-city experiences and eleven years of rescue mission service were all a part of God's plan; even the years I spent going to culinary arts school and cooking professionally are now being used by God in this church planting/inner-city ministry endeavor.

I am just beginning to read Mark Batterson's "In the Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day." I'm beginning to think that Mark is telling my story too. God is using what I thought were bad choices, mistakes and wasted efforts for His glory. I can't wait to see what else God will use from my past to bring glory to His name.