Stories untold unless face to face, treasures unfolded as they share their story with no gloss or fanfare. Just pure love for the people that they are speaking to. Little, or no photo evidence of their endeavour as they were too much a part of the moment to remember to photograph it. And so I, and the hearers rely on their telling of the event so we can envisage what they saw, and try to capture their experience not so much by our eyes, but by their hearts sharing with ours. I do believe this is how it would have been with Paul and Barnabas as they travelled around and the church was born!
And so it was on Boxing Day this year. I was sitting listening to the stories of my father, Stephen and his friend Malcolm (an Arrente man who was born in a Catholic mission near Alice Springs in 1956- but that’s another story 🙂 ). Malcolm is very much a part of our family. He is here most days sharing a meal and a story. Or just sitting with us.
I often get this overwhelming sense I am amongst something great when I sit with these two men. They love the Lord and they love people. There is no hidden agenda, just an anticipation of what Jesus can do with a life when one lets Him be a part of their world. I feel like I’ve been given a treasure that I could miss if I don’t stop when they are here and hear the message they are sharing.
On this particular day Malcolm was excited about Christmas. He had been so excited in the lead up to this day as he had decided to go see some of his family at the community he grew up in. He was not excited about the presents, or the food he would share, but about the opportunity to share the story of Jesus and what He had done in His life.
He said they all knew about God but that he thinks they don’t really get it.
“I wanted to tell them the real meaning of Christmas that it is about a relationship with Jesus Christ”. He had prepared to read from this book he had found.
He went for the day, with his brother and son. He stopped in to one of his family’s home for lunch and they asked him to pray before they had their meal. This is when he saw his opportunity and he said “before I give thanks for the food I want to share with you about Christmas”. He was going to read what he had prepared to share but then instead felt to share from his heart. He shared what Jesus came to earth for and how He wants to be a part of their lives. Malcolm said that everyone was quiet and listening, including the children.
He left there and went on to more of his family where he was asked again to say a prayer of thanks for the food. And so he began to share again, but this time he called everyone in he could see and they were all sitting under a big tree and he began to share what Christmas is about. He said again everyone was listening and it was so quiet.
When he went to leave, his niece said she was amazed as they all knew Malcolm knew what he was talking about.
With a big grin Malcolm said to us “I got 2 lunches and 2 preaches”. The best Christmas ever.
He really has a heart for all his family to come to know Jesus, just like he has. He knows it is the only thing that can change the brokenness in our communities. Malcolm is not interested in religion, he knows that is just law, but he is interested in people coming to know the Jesus that set him free.
My father also shared about this 80 year old Chinese missionary that Mum and him met in their recent trip to Thailand, it sounded amazing… but that is for another time…
I hope that we can all be as excited and passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as these two faithful men are. They do it effortlessly because they live and breathe the gospel. They are not interested in building their online profile or extending their reach. They are interested in the lost sheep that Jesus speaks about that we are meant to seek out and they are interested in encouraging the body of Christ and spurring us on to love and good works. Pure motives.
As it says that we should always have an answer for those that ask why we hope and as it says in Romans 1v16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.