Tag Archives: faith sharing

Connecting Globally

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

World Methodist Evangelism leaders are connected with schools and organizations on the leading edge of theological studies, not just in the United States, but also abroad. For example, both our Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Kim Reisman, and our Director of Education and Leadership, Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes, are Visiting Research Fellows at St. John’s College, Durham University, in Durham, England. Founded in 1909, St. John’s enjoys a distinctive relationship with the Wesley Study Centre and Cranmer Hall, which trains ministers for service in the Church of England and the “Free Church”. These three enjoy a thriving relationship through, in part, their Anglican Methodist student covenant.

This is just one of the many ways that the ministry of World Methodist Evangelism is unique. It is also one of the things that makes our Convergence Conference a particularly special opportunity. During the Convergence Conference, the complex dynamics of living missionally in a postmodern, post-Christendom context will be probed and dissected in the beautiful, historic setting of Durham. Learn more about Convergence here. Learn more about St. John’s College and see all the Visiting Fellows here.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is the Director of Education and Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism. His new book, Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Evangelism (Wipf & Stock) is now available: www.consumingmission.com. He can be reached at rob@worldmethodist.org.

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Looking to Share Your Faith? Slow Your Pace

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

We live in a culture that wants to move faster and faster still. But, is faster always better? There are some things about going slow that you cannot get when you are moving fast.

When I was serving as a youth minister, I took the youth group hiking to the top of a small mountain. At the end of the trail was a vista with a beautiful view of the city below. I had hiked it before, and I was eager for the young people to see the breathtaking view for themselves. As we quickly unloaded the vans, I rushed the youth to the trail. Once on the trail, we were soon met with a large fog bank. It appeared that we were not going to get to see the beautiful view at the end of the trail after all. We hiked on, mostly to keep with our planned program of holding devotions there, though at a slower pace because of the fog. Because of that slower pace, and because I was forced to carefully watch the trail beneath me, I began to notice things that I had not seen before. I found the tiniest, most beautiful flowers. I marveled at fascinating trees that I had missed before. We reached the trail’s end and had our time of Bible reading and devotions in the thick fog. Afterwards, we all closed our eyes for a time of prayer. When we all said “Amen” and open our eyes, we discovered that the fog had lifted during those few moments of prayer. There before us, splashed by the colors of the setting sun, was the most beautiful view of the city. By slowing down, we got to see the flowers on the trail immediately at our feet and the beauty that was still far away.

Slowing down can have a powerful effect on Christian discipleship and on faith-sharing alike. When we slow down, it is not just the deeper connecting with Creation that we notice, like on my hike. Moving at a slower pace allows us to stop and speak to our neighbors, to meet new people, or to renew old friendships. Remember that Jesus and the disciples did not zoom in to a community, stay a few moments, and zoom out. Rather, they walked from village to village with one another. And once there, they frequently remained with the people. Additionally, many of Gospel accounts take place inside a relatively small area and mostly in small villages. You see, they were known to one another and the residents of those communities. Not only did the disciples know the townspeople, but they would have known their family members, how they made their livelihood, and what they enjoyed doing. Jesus and the disciples did not hide behind a busy schedule, a social media profile, or a forced public persona. Rather, the people of Galilee knew Jesus and the disciples to be people who lived what they preached and preached what they lived.

Admittedly, there can be something a bit unnerving about moving at such a pace. We might be afraid to let people know us for who we are. In our modern world, it is easier to hide behind the screens of our devices or the impersonal nature of emails or electronic posts. It is easier to hide behind the busy pace of life to not allow others into the spaces in which we dwell. But these are not the exemplar principles of the Bible. Rather, abiding in the presence of God, waiting for the Lord, and being still before God are what we are taught to do. In much the same way, being present with others is key to faith-sharing. Such a presence includes active listening, lived compassion, and embodied empathy. This sort of things can only come when we move at a slow and deliberate pace. This allows us to join God in what is going on in someone else’s life.

Moving at such a pace in the modern world—literally and figuratively—forces us to live out a key component of faith-sharing: integrity. Not only will you get to see people around you with great clarity, but they will get to see you with greater clarity as well. For this reason, personal holiness is a key aspect to any sort of social holiness in missional service and/or faith-sharing.

I often hear people say that they are waiting on God. In a world that is moving at such a break-neck pace, maybe waiting on God is not so much about stopping and waiting for God to show up. Maybe waiting on God is, spiritually speaking, slowing down to God’s pace and walking together. A slow, deliberate, and faithful pace can impact our own discipleship, and impact those with whom we seek to share our faith.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is the Director of Education and Leadership for World Methodist Evangelism. His new book, Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Evangelism (Wipf & Stock) is now available: www.consumingmission.com. He can be reached at rob@worldmethodist.org.

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Faith-sharing as a Way of Life

By Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes

The word “relational” gets thrown around a great deal when discussing evangelism. Just what that means deserves a closer examination. Allow me to illustrate one way I have in mind. I had many questions about faith before I made a decision to follow Jesus in my early 20s. One of the things that compelled me to become a disciple of Jesus Christ was the honest and open engagement with Christian friends who cared about me. Just such a relationship was as much a force in my Christian conversion as anything else. Maybe I am not alone.

As I reflect on those days, one incident sticks out. I was out for dinner with a group of friends. As we sat out on the balcony enjoying a beautiful fall evening, we could hear someone preaching on a nearby corner. We could not make out much of what he said, but it was obvious that his message was one of condemnation for all in earshot. I listened to my friends ridicule him and the message he was offering.

A few days later, these same friends and I were having deep conversations about faith with a Christian neighbor. Her steady, calming, loving answers to our doubts and questions about faith told us that she cared about us. You see, my friends and I were not disinterested in faith, as our dismissal for the street preacher may have suggested. Rather, we wanted to engage in discussions of faith with someone who cared about us and was willing to be involved in our lives to prove it.

A recent survey (see Bryan Stone’s work at Boston University’s Center for Practical Theology) has affirmed that the role of relationships is paramount in faith sharing. Across all major streams of American Christianity: Mainline, Catholic/Orthodox, and Evangelical people frequently reported that making a decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is an inter-personal matter. The survey revealed that the three most influential things that lead to Christian conversion are:

               1.      A spouse/partner

               2.      A minister (especially that minister’s preaching)

               3.      A particular congregation

Near the bottom of the list were things like television/radio and evangelistic events. Notice that the more personal and relational aspects of the life of faith have a greater  impact on one’s decision to follow Christ. The more programmatic or impersonal seem to be less effective. I share this not to cast aspersions on the efforts of those who hold large-scale evangelism events or broadcast a Bible study over the radio. However, I do offer it to challenge some of the assumptions about who are the evangelists in our churches and our communities. It often is not the “professional” who is all but unknown to the members of the audience pushing people to make a decision. Maybe the cliché has credence: “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

So how can we translate such findings to our own ministry contexts? First, the role of a spouse in the role of faith formation can be vital. For those of you who are praying for your spouse, keep it up! Be encouraged as you minister to your spouse and know that you are not alone. Lean on your pastor or a trusted friend to walk alongside you in this journey.

Second, if you are a minister serving a church, your relationships with the believers and unbelievers in your community (and the pews) are so important. Stone also reminds us of the importance of preaching in evangelism. The opportunity to preach week in, week out is a gift. While there are dozens of pressures that may demand your time each week, preaching is tantamount. Be intentional about the time you set aside for the sacred space of sermon preparation. Notice the difference between this type of preaching and one I mentioned earlier is the personal relationship of the minister. Take time to unpack your sermons through conversation in the public spaces: the coffee shops, soccer fields, and park benches in the community where you serve.

Third, the culture of the congregation is crucial. Many visiting a church will decide if they are coming back long before the notes of the first song are ever played. Rather, the greeting they received at the front door, the help they got finding the nursery, or the handshake they got as they found their seat all go a long way to helping them determine if they will return.

Thinking of faith-sharing along these lines also leads us away from looking for another off-the-shelf program to try next month in our churches. It encourages us instead to think of faith-sharing as a way of life. I am thankful for my friend who saw it that way. I pray that someone sees you and me that way too.

Rev. Dr. Rob Haynes is Director of Education and Leadership at World Methodist Evangelism. He may be reached at Rob@WorldMethodist.org.[/vc_column_text][vc_facebook][vc_tweetmeme][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Tragedy, Community, and Action

There have always been difficulties around the world. Lately, however, it seems that we cannot turn on the news without seeing some new disaster: in Texas, in Sierra Leone, in Florida, in Bangladesh, in Caribbean islands like Dominica, in Mexico, in Puerto Rico. Floods, mudslides, and earthquakes leave our friends and neighbors homeless, missing loved ones, without electricity, running water, or working ATM’s. Parents are grieving the loss of children, neighbors stare at piles of rubble that used to be houses lining their streets, and in some places, mold – mold everywhere.

Faith sharing extends beyond humanitarian disaster relief, but it does include humanitarian disaster relief. Showing up to drag soaked furniture to the curb, or distribute bottled water, or hold a weeping mother – in all these actions we are the hands and feet of Christ serving hurting people.

Most recently, Puerto Rico is reeling from hurricane damage; yet that does not negate the pain of casualties from the earthquake in Mexico City. And the loss in Mexico City does not negate the pain of those suffering in Houston. And the devastation in Houston does not negate the tragedy in Sierra Leone. This continues around the globe.

The Wesleyan Methodist tradition is one that puts actions with intentions. Ours has always been an active expression of Christian faith, whether John Wesley was publishing pamphlets on basic health and hygiene, or whether Methodists were campaigning against child labor and teaching children to read, or whether Methodist women were working together for women’s right to vote.

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Rob Haynes – Faith Sharing and Disaster Relief

Today we have a guest post from World Methodist Evangelism Associate Director of Education and Leadership Development Dr. Rob Haynes. 

 

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall some 400 miles west of me. Just a few days ago, the eye of Hurricane Irma passed just 300 miles to my east. The two narrow misses put us at ground zero for the responding to the needs of our neighbors who have been impacted by these storms. 

I am fascinated and encouraged by the outpouring of assistance that comes after such a disaster. There is something mystical about the way people will drive hours to serve perfect strangers a hot meal, muck out their flooded home, or repair a hole in the roof. People will invest considerable personal resources to do whatever they can do to help someone put lives back together. It is more than just a kindness. I am convinced that God is at work in it.  

In the previous blogs in this space, the metaphor of an embrace has been used as a model for mission and evangelism. The illustration is also appropriate in disaster response ministry. Just as with an embrace, the first rule to remember in any disaster response is simple: go where you are invited to go, to do what you are invited to do, when you are invited to do it.

Many of the people who will volunteer for the relief work will be from faith-based communities. Members of Wesleyan denominations will be well-represented among them.  

It would be a mistake for one to say that they are taking God to “those people” who suffered in the storm. God is already there before the volunteers arrive. He was there in the middle of the storm. He will be there long after the volunteers have gone. Instead it is best to think of our role as a demonstration of the Kingdom of God by word, deed, and sign. This familiar framework is helpful in approaching disaster response ministry.  

Word.  Jesus was present in the lives of those who were in difficult situations, even in the middle of the storms. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. What an amazing comfort to know that God is compassionate and with us through it all. Being present with others as they recover from a natural disaster is a way that Christians can demonstrate the love of God in a similar way.  

The Gospels tell us that Jesus was present in the lives of others in their storms. Remember when the disciples had to awaken Jesus while he slept in the boat? He immediately calmed the storm that raged around them. (See Matthew 8:23-27) On another occasion, Jesus calmly walked through the storm and called Peter to do the same. (See Matthew 14:22-32) 

Deed. Consider the various ways that you can serve. You do not have to be carpenter, plumber, or roofer to make a difference in the lives of those trying to rebuild after a storm. Sometimes, it is simply to be with someone as they try to rebuild their lives.

I recall a time that we were volunteering in the nearby Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Ivan (2004). We were working at the home of Susan, a single woman whose home was destroyed by the storm surge. Much of the debris we removed from her backyard was the contents of her neighbor’s home across the street. After about a half-day’s work my wife found a clear plastic container. She could see that it was full of family pictures. Imagine the joy Susan felt when my wife showed her the box of treasured memories. The richness of that find was not just the pictures, but the hours that my wife spent with Susan as she went through the pictures and told the stories behind each one. The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and crying on the curb in front of Susan’s home as the rest of the work team piled the contents of two homes on the street.  

Sign. A seminary professor of mine used to say, “Show up in someone else’s life and pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is doing. God will show you how to love others. Show up and pay attention.” The same applies in responding to the needs of our neighbors. Show up. Pay attention. 

When we serve others in practical ways, representing the Word made Flesh, a space is created for faith sharing. The opportunities for the embrace of faith-sharing begin to occur. Welcome the opportunity to embrace others with the good news of Jesus Christ when they need to know that Jesus has calmed the storm. 

 

 

Life Changing ~ Faith Shaping

Most of us can look back on our lives and point to an experience that was instrumental in shaping us into the persons we are today. Maybe it was a conversation or encounter with another person that transformed the way we looked at things. Maybe it was an event or incident that remolded our understanding of the world or our faith. Growing into the people God desires us to be requires these kinds of moments – they are a crucial way in which we are formed into mature adults and mature disciples of Jesus Christ. 

Participating in a WME-sponsored international young adult gathering called ICYCE when I was 20 years old was this kind of experience for me. We gathered in Truro, England, slept in tents, heard amazing speakers, and met young Christians from all over the world. Peter Story, from South Africa, challenged us with words that have stayed with me ever since:  

For these seven days, I want you to dream with God, because there is a dream in the mind of God, and I want you to do what John the Evangelist did a long time ago, I want you to hear God’s dream. I want you to see it with your own eyes. I want you to touch that dream and to feel that dream touch you. And then I want you to go and declare it to all the world. 

In 2018 young adults from all over the world will mobilize for the 10th WME young adult conference, renamed Metanoia. We will gather in Alajuela, Costa Rica and even though we won’t be sleeping in tents, there will be amazing speakers like Danielle Strickland and Stanley John. Danielle is an officer in the Salvation Army, and is a speaker, author, and social justice advocate. Her “aggressive compassion” has made the boundless love of Jesus Christ visible and tangible to people all over the world. Stanley is an Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Alliance Graduate School of Mission and is passionate about forming servant leaders for Christ. He will help us view scripture in a global Christian context, particularly in light of global migration. 

There will be numerous other leaders who will lead us in deepening our commitment to Jesus Christ, discovering our place in the global community of believers, and expanding our vision of God’s purpose for our lives. In the midst of that we will also have loads of fun exploring volcanos and ziplining through rain forests.

Don’t miss this opportunity for a faith-shaping, life-changing experience. If you or someone you know are interested in joining us, you can email Shirley Dominick for more information.  

As Peter Story said all those years ago, there is a dream in the mind of God. Metanoia will be a place where we can hear God’s dream, see it with our own eyes, touch it and be touched by it – and then go declare it to all the world. I hope you’ll join me! 

A Person-Centered Faith

Clarity is about understanding the nature of Christian faith, both the basic tenets of faith and our experience of it. Clarity is crucial to authentic evangelism because how we understand the nature of Christian faith will greatly impact how we go about sharing. Regardless of our culture, if we are not clear about the basics of faith, we will be unable to share it authentically. This is especially true in environments where we are surrounded by people who believe differently than we do.

A simple definition of Christian faith is helpful in gaining clarity. At its most basic level, Christian faith is a centered, personal, relational response involving trust and obedience. Certainly much more can be said about Christian faith; but this straightforward understanding provides not only a clear outline of the tenets of the faith, but a lens through which we can view our individual experience of it.

Christian faith is centered. That means it has a specific object. The Scripture passages at the beginning of this session point to that object: Jesus Christ. Christian faith is centered on the living God revealed in Jesus of Nazareth whom we call the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

We might take this truth for granted, yet it is profoundly important. Christian faith is not faith in general. It is not a generic type of spirituality. When we speak of Christian faith, we are not speaking of a philosophy of life we can speculate about or a system of ethical ideals to be debated or a set of doctrinal propositions with which we choose to mentally agree. When we speak of Christian faith, we are speaking about a very particular faith – faith in Jesus Christ. 

Christian faith is centered, and it is also personal. It is personal because it is centered on a person, a real human being situated in a real culture at a real time in history. That Jesus was a real person reminds us that Christian faith is grounded in the physical world that God created. Though mystery abounds, Christian faith is not about a faraway heaven separate from the amazing universe which God has created for us to inhabit. Christian faith is about God becoming human in Jesus, entering the physical universe, to restore it fully and completely. 

Christian faith is personal because it is centered on a real person, Jesus Christ, but it is also personal because it requires a personal commitment from each human being. We can pray that another person might have faith. We can do our best to create an environment where faith is taught and caught. But we cannot have faith for another person any more than they can have faith for us. Christian faith is so decidedly personal, it demands that each must own that faith for him or herself. 

 

 

On the Road: Witness in Central Asia

Reflections from my travel journal:

The other day I preached. The church was packed to overflowing – so many kids and young people! It was Communion Sunday, which is a time when they allow young adults to practice preaching. Three young women preached before I ever got up! One on persistence in prayer even when we don’t receive what we are asking for, one on the danger of sin, and one on the church as a temple for God. The woman who preached on prayer became a Christian a few years ago. She began praying for her husband to accept Christ but ultimately he told her to choose between him and “her God.” When she chose God, he left her and their two sons to fend for themselves.

Many people here are nominal Orthodox in the same way that many Christians in the US are nominal. It’s more of a cultural thing. This nation is also about 80% Muslim – there are over 2,000 mosques – and Saudi Arabia is funding the building of new mosques. Interestingly, there are a number of nominal Muslims – which may be why the Saudis are so keen. For Protestant Christians, local churches must register with the state. A group cannot be considered a registered church unless you have at least 200 members. If you are not registered, you cannot legally gather for worship. Evangelism by churches in the other category is prohibited: they are not allowed to invite people to church or have foreign visitors for religious purposes.

Today we baptized a young man who is 24 years old. He and two other young men (19 and 21 years old) came to the seminar with their pastor Igor (who is also pretty young!). The man who was baptized oversees the education section of the community center in his town.

Seminar participants are so committed to faith and evangelism. Inspiring! If you want to be Christian here you have to be incredibly committed.  Several of the young adults are attending the seminar with their pastor.

On Bridges and Barriers

Recently I taught at an evangelism seminar for pastors in Mexico. So much of evangelism is about building bridges and breaking down barriers in order to reach out to others on behalf of Jesus Christ. It was a good conference. Connections were made, language barriers were overcome, relationships of friendship and trust were created, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit moved and people were empowered to act.

I’m reminded of a little book of essays I received a few Christmases ago called, A Writer’s Paris: A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul by Eric Maisel. One of my favorite of Maisel’s essays is one in which he talks about the footbridges of Paris. Bridges in Paris aren’t miles long and clogged with traffic, although there are some that are purely functional – all steel and cement. Most of them, however, are short and sweet, inviting a lingering stroll with a relaxed stop to watch the world go by. Many have been there for hundreds of years, evolving from footbridges, to heavily trafficked pathways and back to pedestrian walkways.

Bridges are fascinating things. I remember seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for the first time. What an awesome construction! And the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, with all its lights. The awesomeness of these bridges reminds me of the awesomeness of the task of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. The gulf we need to cross can seem so great – a huge gap between our experience of the love and acceptance we receive in Jesus Christ and the experience of suspicion and rejection we often experience in the world.

Maisel’s words about the bridges of Paris teach me something about scale. He writes about writers, saying, “You want to show a war, but you must show a battle instead. You want to prove the greatness of a great love, but you can’t do it through hyperbole – you can only do it by a careful noticing of the way your lovers hold hands.” He goes on to recount a time when he found himself on the Pont Saint Louis near a 30-year-old man and his 60-year-old mother. The son was pouring out his heart to his mother. After describing their conversation, Maisel says, “The setting has allowed him to speak. This conversation never could have occurred in their living room, at the supermarket, or at the Louvre. This bridge creates a place safe enough for a boy to speak to his mother.”

Maisel is right. It’s not about the awesomeness of the bridges. It’s about the intimacy. It’s about the way the footbridge subtly draws you to the middle to stop and absorb what’s going on around you, to see how the water flows, how the streets lead to and from, how the buildings grow up and out.

It may just be that we don’t make connections between our experience of being in relationship with Jesus Christ and the experience of the rest of the world through massive efforts and structures. It may just be that it’s about the intimacy of crossing a footbridge to meet another in the middle.

Maybe evangelism is not as much about creating grand strategies and programs as it is about making connections of love and trust in the individual relationships we encounter in our daily lives. Maybe it’s not about proving the great love God has shown in Jesus Christ through hyperbole, but by noticing the way Jesus comes to us as a lover – holding our hand, easing our fears, forgiving our faults and shortcomings – loving us anyway. Maybe it’s about creating places like the bridge where the son was able to talk with his mother, places that are safe enough for us to talk about our faith, the meaning that it has brought to our lives, the difference Jesus Christ has made in our experience of the world.

We live in a time when bridges are one of our greatest needs, but barriers seem bigger and more prevalent than ever. In that kind of environment, what bridges are we able to create in our lives? What next step do we need to take to create places that are safe enough for us to talk about the deep things of our heart? What person in your life is quietly awaiting an opportunity to meet you in the middle of a bridge, to make a connection, to deepen a relationship, to hear or speak a word of faith and hope and love?

 

This post originally appeared at www.gospel-life.net.

Spirit Nudges: Winston Worrell’s Life of Listening

Periodically, events happen in our lives that are natural points of reflection. Graduations, weddings, retirement.

I’m in such a season these days due to the recent retirement announcement of Winston Worrell, the Director of WME’s Evangelism Institute at Candler School of Theology.

Winston has led our Institute for 25 years, so his departure in June will leave a significant gap. His depth of spirit, personal passion for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and faithful work to equip others for evangelism have been instrumental in the success of WMEI.

I often teach that God’s preferred method of interacting with us is to use particular people at particular times, usually to deliver a particular message. That has been my own faith experience. Twenty years ago, at a time when I was doubting myself in ministry, God used a particular person – Winston – to ease my fears. At the exact moment I was prepared to leave ministry behind, God used Winston to deliver a particular message – stay the course, I will be with you.

Until recently, Winston didn’t know how God had used him in my life; but in the 20 years since, I’ve watched him as together we worked and worshiped, prayed and taught, preached and played. Through it all his openness to the power of the Holy Spirit has never wavered. He always stands ready to be used by God – even when he doesn’t know he is being used.

Several years ago, at our Order of the Flame gathering, one of the speakers, Lyle Pointer, had to leave shortly after he had spoken, so at the break he left to gather his belongings. After the break, Winston was settling into his seat, excited to hear the next speaker, when he felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit: Go pray with Lyle.

To hear Winston tell it, he was not happy with this feeling that he should leave the session to pray. He was excited about the topic of the next lecture and didn’t want to miss it. Everything seemed fine with Lyle, why did he need to go pray? After a few minutes of wrestling, he reluctantly left the room to look for Lyle. Seeing him and his wife, Paula, across the parking lot, Winston hailed them down and told them he felt a strong urging to pray with them. This was not in the least surprising to them, so in that moment, Winston, a black man from the Caribbean, and Lyle and Paula, two white folks from Oklahoma, encircled each other and prayed.

After they had prayed, Winston returned to the conference session and Lyle and Paula began their journey home.

About 15 minutes later, while the next speaker was mid-lecture, Winston heard a rapping on the window near his chair. An African American man gestured for him to come outside. Curious, Winston joined him and it was quickly very clear that something had deeply moved him, so they began to talk.

He was a delivery man who happened to be unloading his truck when he looked across the parking lot and saw Winston, arms wrapped around Lyle and Paula, praying.

As Winston listened, the man cried as he shared about his burdens. He shared that seeing black and white people with their arms around each other, praying together, had moved him in a way little had in the past. Winston continued to listen with the compassion and spiritual sensitivity that has marked his entire ministry. And then he shared his own faith in Jesus. And they prayed together for the next steps in this man’s spiritual journey.

God uses particular people, at particular times. Winston realizes that. His ear is tuned to God’s voice, nudging him even when he is reluctant or doesn’t understand.

What is your ear tuned to? What is the Holy Spirit nudging you to do or to say that only you can do or say?

As I move through these next months in anticipation of Winston’s retirement, I pray for that same spiritual sensitivity. And I pray that each of us, like Winston, will become ever more in tune to God’s voice, ready to be the particular person, at the particular time, used to channel God’s message of loving mercy, forgiveness, and grace.