Tuesday, November 15, 2005

DOWN RIVER by Keith Giles

DOWN RIVER by Keith Giles

Here I sit in my new house in Orange, far away from the familiar life I once knew in Tustin.

Just today I was reading in “Practitioners” about how Jesus took the blind man who was brought to him outside the village, alone.

The point being made was about how Jesus often takes us to the unfamiliar places before he works a miracle in our lives because he wants us to depend totally on him and not on what we know or have experienced.

I am in unfamiliar territory.

Just the other day, before I read this chapter on the unfamiliar, I caught myself driving around the city of Tustin where I know the trails and the landmarks by heart.

It’s easier to live in the places where we’re at home. It’s more difficult to venture outside our comfort zones, or our home territory, to explore a new village, or discover a fresh idea.

When I first began to explore this idea of leading a House Church, I heard pastors ask me what the model is for what I’m doing. My peers scratch their heads when I talk about House Churches and ask me to provide evidence that this is a viable method of evangelism or missions.

You know what I realized? It’s impossible to blaze a new trail and then ask for the roadmap first.

If you’re called to pioneer something, it will mean that there will not be a trail for you to follow as you move along.

Since those first few days of exploration into the House Church movement, I have discovered that I am not so alone. There are people all over Orange County, and the Nation, who have been doing this sort of thing for a very long time now. It’s just been under the radar of most of contemporary Christian society.

Even in this I feel the tension. Do I blaze a trail all alone, leaning only on God and His divine guidance? Or do I glean from the wisdom of those who have taken this path before me and save myself the grief of repeating the mistakes that they made long ago?

When it comes to the neighborhood we find ourselves in now, I wonder how best to approach the launch of our mission here.

Do I invite my neighbors to a friendly cookout first? Get to know them as friends and as people before I ask them if they’d like to come over on Sunday mornings to pray and study the Bible with us?

Or, do I start an ALPHA class series during the week first? Have a meal, watch a DVD segment each Thursday night and host the resulting discussion groups in hopes of winning some of them to Christ before we launch the Sunday service?

I am wrestling with several different combinations of these scenarios.

So, now I find myself in a great, new house, here in Orange. In unfamiliar territory. Unsure of exactly how to be a missionary to these people. Waiting for a sign.

Last year, back in March, my friend had a dream about me. He said he saw me dressed in a bright yellow suit looking full of life and light. Then he said the color changed to orange and he heard God say, “He will astound and confound” before he woke up.

What I find interesting is that my decision to leave my pastor’s position has left many of my friends, including this friend, very confounded. It’s also interesting that I’ve moved to the city of Orange to start a House Church.

Then, last week, Wendy and I were invited to have dinner with an older couple at our church. She shared with me a vision that God showed her during the Sunday service back on September 25th of this year.

She showed me her journal and the only thing on the page was a drawing of a large house with three upper floors (a total of four floors) and each floor had 3 windows in it. The lower floor had only 2 windows and the door in the middle.

She said God spoke to her through this vision (as I was sitting in front of her during the worship set) and told her that the house was symbolic of the new house church we would be starting. (No one knew we were leaving to start a House Church at this time, btw).

The windows, she told me, were symbolic of all the new windows of opportunity that God was going to open for us. There were eleven total, plus the door itself on the ground floor.

God has been sending people to us lately to encourage us and to spur us on towards this new endeavor and it’s nothing short of amazing.

Even though I honestly prefer, in some ways, the familiar sights, smells and sounds of our old life, I am constantly challenged and compelled towards this new phase of our ministry.

More on this later…


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