Sunday, December 28, 2008


As I spend time in my old stomping grounds here in El Paso I cannot help but imagine all the ways I could jack things up here in this sleepy border town.

From guerilla marketing messages inserted in local bookstore shelves, to under the radar flyers on car windshields and subversive messages in unexpected places, I am seriously wondering how long it would take for me to be run out of this town on a rail if I ever returned to live here.

Perhaps I might preach a sermon in a local least once before my name was added to the "do not call" list, or perhaps I might buy a billboard along I-10 to challenge the complacency of local churches who ignore the thousands of poor who are just across the border, and along her own streets, daily.

I have no illusions of becoming an infamous dark hero in this place. I'm certain my infamy would be more like actual threats against my life and complete black-listing by the Christian churches here. Would I be willing to speak out and make waves if I knew it would mean an actual backlash against my family, against my parents, or my wife and children?

I want to ask people here, "Does your Church preach the Gospel"? I want to challenge them to see the poor around them, and the heart of God for the poor in their Bibles, and the calling of God for His people to love them in action and in truth, not with words or empty promises.

I can't imagine living here and sitting still while week after week pastors from the pulpit preach about bringing your lost friend's to church as if that is the fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus. What happened to "Go into all the world"? What happened to "making disciples"? What happened to "teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you"?

Seriously. What happened? I really don't know.

There are those here in El Paso who do serve the poor and who do live out a radical example of the Gospel of the Kingdom in their everyday life. One is my friend Tim Gamwell who has given his life to help as many children living in poverty in Juarez, Mexico and here in El Paso as he the point of becoming one of the poor himself as he supports them out of his own pocket and lives without many of the conveniences others take for granted in order to care for just one more child.

If I ever did return to this place I would be honored to serve alongside Tim and his family as they serve these children and implore the Churches in this area to open their hearts, and their wallets, to touch the poor all around them.

I cannot reconcile a church of thousands - mostly white, upper-to-middle class christians - who invest over $40k to put on an over-the-top show to count hands raised (those who said the sinner's prayer) and fails to give as much attention or thought towards what to do with those 1,500 people after the fact. Making disciples, or making converts? I don't understand the misdirection of priority.

To be honest, I pray with all my heart that God does not call me to return here. If so, I would certainly obey Him, but I would come knowing that the battle would be long and that hearts would need to be softened over time.

Maybe I could set up an El Paso chapter of Subversive operatives who could carry out this mission in my absence? Are there any out there who are willing to wear that target on their back for the Gospel of the Kingdom? Are there any here in El Paso willing to stand up and speak out this message of compassion for the poor?

I pray that God would raise up an army like this. Who knows? Maybe they are already out there and I just haven't heard of them or met them yet? Maybe they are dropping flyers into Church bathrooms as I write this? Maybe...


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