THE ENCOUNTER III > This story is written as if fiction, but it is not. Fellow Christian, have you heard a call in your heart saying: “Gotham needs you?” Has God challenged you to take your city and your neighborhood very “personal”? That is what happened to me. I am caped in God’s Covering, and Indianapolis is my Gotham. Who’s yours?
The computer screen still glowed in front of him as Don relived that night with Chris. It was very simple and basic. How has Church become so complicated? After that first contact, Chris had begun to win some favor with the Apartment complex. This was a “Point of Pain” area, so it was not hard to find ways of helping, and showing the love of God. He turned his minivan into a food pantry, and now, once a month, he was allowed to come to their monthly meeting in the Apartment Community Center and set up his food pantry. After the one hour meeting, people were allowed to sign up and come through the tables one by one.
Don remembered how the place was all abuzz when he entered the building that night. The tables were set up with food, but the meeting had not started yet. In the meantime he found Chris talking to a man named Charlie, and he was showing Charlie God’s plan of salvation by using a special phone app. Charlie found the diagrams very interesting, but was not ready to make a full commitment to Christ at this time. When Chris got called away to other things, Don found himself left there with Charlie, and an open opportunity.
“Charley”, he began, “Do you know that the Bible says God loves you?”
“Yes,” he answered. Charlie was well aware of what the Bible said about this.
“Do you understand that the Bible says God loves you so much that he was willing to come and die for you?”
“Yes,” the answer came again.
“Do you love God, Charley?” Don found himself asking.
“Yes,” Charley said.
“Well then, the question becomes, do you love him enough to give your life to him, like he did for you?”
Charley was very quiet. It seemed apparent he had accepted Christ many years ago but had drifted far away. Don could feel a heaviness on Charley’s spirit as he thought about these things, but he was not ready, so he prayed a short prayer with him, and knew God would speak more to Charley that night, as he pillowed his head.
After that, Chris and he had stood in the back for an hour while the meeting went on. A chair to sit would have been nice, but somehow that never happened and Don was happy just to be there. After the meeting people signed a card and lined up at the first table where Chris and Don stood waiting to pray. As each person approached and handed their card to Chris, he asked them, “Do you have a need we can pray about with you?” Amazingly, most of them did. Many of the people had already begun to look upon Chris as their Pastor, and they called him Pastor Chris.
Don was still amazed at the power he felt when praying for these people. How quickly words had come. How precise had been the prayers. How powerful they had felt, God doing a quick work, one by one, as Chris would pass a person to Don, and then he would take the next, and so it went one by one, powerful, precise, anointed. God was there! He was almost tangible!
“Did that all really happen?” he asked himself again as he sat in the glow of the blank computer screen. Yes it did. He knew it did, but still could hardly believe it. So different than what goes on in the comfortable and safe confines of the Church building. Simple Christianity, in a place of needs, meeting needs, both physical and spiritual, and God showed up in a special way in that difficult environment. The woman whose child had been killed in the playground, confessed she still wrestled with depression over it, and Don watched as Chris prayed for her. You could feel her sincere gratitude.
Big changes were coming Don’s way. He had answered God’s call to take his neighborhood and city very “personally”, like a Batman saying: “Gotham needs me!” But what would that mean? What would be the personal price to pay? Where would it lead? What kind of training? It is not like in the movies where everything happens in a nice package of two or three hours. Gaining an open door to an apartment complex, a community, a workplace, the lost, the streets, can take many months of prayer, training, and sacrifice. Are we willing? Are we willing to say, “Here am I, Lord.”, when God is asking, “Who will go?”
Don was about to leave the church of forty people he had been so involved with for three years, but it use to be two-hundred people, something was not working, and God was calling him away to a Church of six-hundred, to start from scratch again, and all this at the age of fifty-nine? But he needed a Church that was daring enough to embrace this vision, not only in word, but also in deeds.
Still unemployed and living on the part-time wages of a Cracker Barrel waitress, God had blessed their money to survive on for one year, but this was about to change too. So many changes to walk this path, so many adjustments to reach this new level, so much renewing of the mind, thinking outside the Church Box, submitting and obeying God’s revelation as it came, ordering his steps into a greater realm. Christmas was almost here, and after that 2015. Don already knew that 2015 was going to be something special…something radical…something like a Caped Crusader saying: “Not in my city, devil. I arrest you in the name of Jesus. And I will put works and obedience with my words. Show me the way, Lord. Here am I.”
Batman? Maybe we need to learn something from the comic books. Stories of “super” heroes. Where are all the super-heroes of God? It does not come by us becoming super ourselves, but by us tapping into the One who is. Are we willing to pay that price? In comic books we see super heroes willing to defeat the super bad guys and save the people, save the city. We do have a super bad guy and his evil legions. OF COURSE, GOD’S TRAINING IS DIFFERENT THAN BATMAN’S, BUT ARE WE WILLING TO ANSWER SUCH A CALL?
This is the story of one who said yes, and these are the things that happened after I did. And God led me to others already saying yes, so I in turn could lead others to say, “YES”.