It is a cold, frigid winter here in Pittsburgh. Like a lot of places in the states, we are battling to keep snow off the roads and heat in our homes. One of the downsides of the winter season is the seeming lack of human interaction that can occur. For churches who want to reach out to others, the cold can thwart many outreach efforts. It’s really hard to get any traction going. BUT it’s not impossible.
Arlington Baptist Church sent up a college group at the beginning of the month intent on helping start some traction for us, and God greatly used their efforts and freezing feet. The very hour they arrived, I put them to work cleaning a child care room at the local church where we have just begun to host a community Bible study. This Bible study combines the core team of 412 Church with a group that had been studying together in the home of our friend Micah Lester (who is also a member of the core team). By meeting in a public location rather than our homes, we are able to invite even more people to join us and provide child care for the many kiddos our families have.
God blessed this Bible study, and we are seeing great growth in this area of ministry. After cleaning the nursery, the Arlington team also provided childcare for the first week of the study so that all of us could meet together uninterrupted.
To help us form new bonds, the Arlington team learned a new strategy and put into practice what they learned by trying what I call “Eat to Exegete.” When we “eat to exegete,” the team and I maximize any time we spend eating out by engaging our waitresses with questions about their lives and asking to pray for them. On this trip, we were able to get to know some of the real problems a few ladies were facing–in one case, the suicide of a teenaged son. Practicing these humanizing habits in public settings is a great way to serve others in a situation where we often expect to be served. We also always make sure to leave a good tip!
The team also made meals for many not-yet-Christians Megan and I know to help us continue to build relationships. We delivered a ton (and I mean a ton) of frozen chicken pot pies to friends who included Syrian refugees, Iraqi refugees, ex-drug addicts, ex-homeless, and some newcomers to Pittsburgh. A group of us guys got to sit down with the Iraqi family, eat with them, and engage them in conversation. Wow; not bad for the dead of winter!
Though six inches of snow and temperatures in the single digits may make the winter season seem like the worst time to gain traction in ministry, we are finding, unsurprisingly, that our God can do whatever He pleases whenever He pleases. Praise God for the work He is doing this winter!