Recently I attended the Children’s Pastor’s Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a great experience, as these conferences usually are. But, in the midst of it there came a moment that truly rocked me. Actually there were several moments that changed me. This is the story of one of those moments.
As I understand it there were around 1200 children’s ministry leaders at this conference. That’s 1200 people that love the Lord, love kids and are eager to do whatever it takes to reach them.
Or are they?
Your first thought may be, “Of course they are. That’s why they are at the conference.” I would tend to agree, but I think that there is something we might be missing.
You see, this conference was going just like many others that I have been to. Great worship opportunities. Great speakers were sharing their knowledge and inspiration. There were the usual conversations in the hall and meeting people that had previously only been a face or name on social media.
That’s when something happened that changed it all.
After the last session on the night before the conference ended, a group of us gathered at a local café to fellowship. This lasted till quite late then we all went back to our hotels and went to bed.
Well, not ALL of us.
You see my friend Charlie decided to do something else. You may know him as Kidmin Charlie. If you do, then you know that he has a passion for street ministry and for sharing the gospel wherever he goes. While the rest of us were sleeping, Charlie was walking the streets of Chattanooga. While doing so he encountered a man spending the night in a tent with his wife and daughter. This was within blocks of the conference center. That night it was in the low to mid 30s and raining and this family was sleeping in a tent! Through prayer and faith God provided the means for this family to get a hotel room for the night and to get out of the cold and rain.
As I heard this story It struck me that with 1200 children’s ministry leaders gathering just a block or two from where this family set up their tent, only one of us cared enough to find them. To the rest of us at the conference this family was INVISIBLE.
Please understand, I am not downplaying the value of conferences or the importance of training. I don’t doubt that God is using many of the people at the conference to do amazing things in their communities. Charlie has a unique call on his life. Not everyone’s call is intended to look like Charlie’s. But, we are all called to see the invisible people around us. So, I ask:
Who are the invisible people around you?
Who are the people that no one sees?
Who are the people that no one is ministering to?
In the story mentioned above it was a family sleeping in a tent on a cold and rainy night. But, this is not always the case. Perhaps there is a neighborhood in your area where the people are simply ignored by the church. Maybe it is a poor neighborhood. Maybe it is a wealthy one. Maybe we ignore it because we are afraid of what might happen to us. Maybe we ignore it because we don’t think the people will respond.
In the parable of the sower Jesus does not hold us responsible for the condition of the soil. He does not hold us responsible for the growth. He does hold us responsible for sowing the seed, regardless of the condition of the soil or how much growth WE THINK will happen.
So, think what can you do to reach the invisible people in your community? Let’s look at that tomorrow. In the mean time pray that God will help you to see the people that you have been unable to see before.Matt Norman
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