I spent two hours unclogging a toilet this week. When Monday rolled around I had an idea in my head of how the next few days would go. I had tasks to accomplish, and deadlines to meet, but then all of the sudden, the plan that I had set for the week, was thwarted by a horrific mess in the boys bathroom at the Hillyard YFC building.
I have the privilege of serving as the YFC Ministry Director in the Hillyard neighborhood, and in that role I wear a lot of hats. I get to be a part time pastor when students and leaders come to me with problems, part time Uber driver when kids need a ride home, part time professional Ping-Pong player (if I get paid to play I consider myself a professional), and apparently, as I found out this past week, a part time plumber. Most of the time I love the variety of responsibilities and experiences that I get to have throughout the week. It keeps my job from becoming stagnant. Unfortunately this week, that variety came in the form of a stagnant pool of human waste that I was elbow deep in for two hours.
My experience this week gave me the chance to reflect on some of what Rob talked about in church last Sunday. He talked about there being two different buckets of ministry that we can put ourselves into. For some, that bucket is ministry though speaking. For others, that bucket is ministry through service. As I thought about this notion, I was conflicted as to what bucket I fit into. On one hand, I get the chance speak a lot. I share the Gospel with kids on a regular basis at YFC. I get up in front of hundred of people at summer camps to share the Gospel through made up stories and humor, and I get the opportunity to speak to people about what God is doing through YFC all the time. My job requires me to do ministry by speaking all the time. It doesn’t stress me out, and for the most part I would say that I’m pretty good at it, but if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think that speaking is the bucket that God has put me in.
Over and over again in my life, God has made it apparent that the most effective way for me to reach people for Christ is to love them and serve them as best I can. I constantly tell myself that my job is not to convince kids to believe in Christ. My job is to walk alongside them and provide them with opportunities to encounter Jesus. By taking this approach it allows me to rely fully on God to reach these kids. I believe that if they have the chance to encounter Jesus, His love for them will become so undeniable that following Him is the only logical choice that remains.
I had a dog named Tucker when I was younger. I loved this dog so much, but there was a time when Tucker was a puppy that it didn’t seem like he knew that I even existed. I would feed him, and play with him, but he always seemed somewhat apathetic towards me. One night in the middle of winter Tucker went missing, and after about 45 minutes of searching I was frustrated and ready to give up for the night. I loved this Dog though, and something told me that I had to keep searching. A few minutes later I heard a small whimper from the other side of a fence, and I immediately knew it was Tucker. I was over that fence in the blink of an eye because I knew that he was in trouble. What I saw on the other side was my puppy fighting for his life as he was drowning in my neighbor’s pond. I scooped Tucker up, ran back to my house, wrapped him in a blanket, and sat with him until he stopped shivering. There were no words that I could have said that could have helped Tucker get through the trauma that he had just experienced (because he was a dog), but through the act of just being with him, Tucker and I grew closer together. From that moment on he was overcome with excitement whenever I would walk through the door, and when I would sit on the couch he would come and cuddle up next to me with his right front leg resting on me and we watched TV. Tucker recognized me as the person that rescued him, and desired to be close to me.
When I see the kids I work with, I see Tucker. I see kids that are fighting for their lives as they are drowning in the mess that surrounds them, unaware that there is a God that wants to scoop them up, and hold them until they are done shivering. I believe that through my service these kids will get the opportunity to let God rescue them, and once they experience him, will be overcome with excitement that they get to have a personal relationship with him.
2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us Christ’s ambassadors. When I think about the term ambassador, I think about someone who is appointed by the government to represent the interests of their country in a foreign territory. To be an ambassador is to sit in place of honor. God has entrusted us with his ministry, and it is our job to represent him as accurately as we can through word and deed.
I’m incredibly blessed to be able to be representing Christ at YFC in Hillyard. I view our youth center as Christ’s embassy, where kids can come in and seek asylum from the torment that they experience in their everyday lives. I want to make sure that kids have a safe, peaceful, clean place they can come to throughout the week to experience the love of Christ, and If that means I have to roll up my sleeves an unclog a toilet, than that’s what I’m going to do (maybe that makes me Christ’s janitor rather than his ambassador).
I encourage each one of us, including myself, to think about the foreign territories that God is calling us into to be his representatives. People face injustice every day, and we are called as the Church to be the ones to stand in the gap, and give them a chance to encounter a God that desperately wants to rescue them.
Pick a bucket. You may find that God is calling you to represent him in the words that you say. You may find that you represent him best in the actions you take, or you may find that you are constantly jumping back and forth between buckets. It doesn’t matter. Let’s, as a church, make the decision to be a body that loves people and loves Jesus and represents Him well.