This is a question that has been asked of us from time to time. As we meet with various people and explain to them what our heart and passion is concerning Mercy Branch, as we attempt to help people understand our two-fold mission (Guest House and Street Kids), the question is raised: Where is the Church in all this?
Admittedly, I initially was unsure how to answer this question. I really did not and still do not feel that God is calling me to go over to Ethiopia and plant a church. To be blunt, they really don’t need me for that. There are capable Ethiopians leading that charge, and doing well. Are there challenges? Sure. Areas that could be more true-to-Scripture? Yes. Will I try to help and mentor in that if given the opportunity? Yes. But I digress. The point is that this is not the mission God has called me to. God has called me to work with Street Kids, mentor them, teach them how to be Godly young men and women, exemplify Godly family, press courage on them to do what is right, and impassion them with God’s call on their life.
Part of that will certainly involve getting these kids active in good Gospel preaching, believing, and living churches. These churches exist, and will be the foundation of the rest of these kids’ lives.
Which leads me to my point here: The more I consider the question, “Where is the Church in all this?”, the less I am sucked into the question and the more I am saddened by the premise. This is less a question of “Are you trying to walk away from the Biblical definition church?” and more a question of “Are you going to hold a church service weekly where you sing, pray, and preach?”.
The Truth here is that God has called the Church to get creative and work with these kids half a world away from the soil I am currently standing on. He has called her, in my family, to sell our home and most of our worldly possessions to uproot our family and get on the ground there. He has called her, in others, to pour themselves out in prayer for our family and our mission as we undertake this journey. He has called her, in still others, to give of their resources for His call. To say, I don’t have to have the data plan or the cable, because this is more important to Him. He has called, in others, to advocate and serve on our board and invest time. He has called, still others, to leave their home for a short time to come and learn and invest in these children.
I have grown weary of a building and program definition of church. When Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…” (Matthew 16:18, ESV) the rock was not a brick and mortar foundation-it was a people foundation. And when Paul speaks of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, he is not referencing programs and activities, but how the Church will invest themselves in her various roles and the subsequent beauty and creativity that is displayed in her bowing to what is asked of her.
Where is the Church in all this? She is in every step of this. She is in the planning, the sending, the praying, the ministering, the hurts, successes, and failures. She is all over this… because she is us working together to see this happen for the King and His Kingdom!