Wow! Yesterday's service far exceeded mine, or anyone's I think, expectations. Community was founded with the interest of "going out." We didn't want Community to just become like another organization that was confined to meeting inside the same bulding, never venturing out into the "World" that we are encouraged, (no wait that was a command) to go out into. When I was asked a month ago to go out and minister to the River Haven people of Ventura I recognized that this was potentianly an oppotunity to reach out, but was still skeptical.
How huge is God though. After exploring Jesus' Mission Discourse, Community had the opportunity to go out to Lake Casitas and love others. I had no idea how the service at the Lake was going to go, I had never met the people who were part of "River Haven," had no foreknowledge of where we were going to meet and set up our chairs, and wasn't really sure who from Community would be able to make it. But as we prayerfully and obediently went out to the Lake to hold yesterday's Community service, all of the pieces were put into place by God for an amazing afternoon.
After singing (something that I was told our visitors really enjoyed), and after sharing from the Word of God and from Biker's for Christ and Kay from River Haven, a woman named Bonnie approached me with a song that she had written when she was 14 that she wanted to share with me.
"I know not where the road leads on,
but when he comes he will show,
he will take my hand,
and lead me on his way,
I'll go when he does come,
I'll go when he does come,
for I know when he does come I will go."
After I talked with Bonnie, another woman, Debbie came up to me and told me that she needed to speak with me. She explained that she had rededicated her life to Christ in the 70's while she was part of a church "kinda like yours." She explained that this church had disbanded before she had a chance to be baptized, and that she had always wanted to be baptized. After asking her some questions about who she believed Jesus was, and what He had done for her, I asked her if she wanted to be baptized today in the Lake. I then asked her if she wanted to go back to her camp and change, or if she was ready to be baptized right now. She told me that she was ready to go, and we headed down to the lake willing to receive our $1000 fine if ticketed.
After Debbie was baptized and we began to climb back up the hill to our cars, Kay (the River Haven clan leader) told me that there was someone else who wanted to be baptized if I was willing, her husband. I met with her husband and after talking with him, he too headed down to be baptized among the reeds in the lake, (It is truly amazing the similarities between the lake, the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River).
While we were walking to the lake, another woman who I had met earlier during the service also said that she would like to be baptized, informing me that she had given her life to the Lord when she was young, but that her mother wanted her to wait until she was older to be baptized.
One of the greatest things about our service at the lake was that we simply followed God. We didn't orchestrate the experience, in fact I had no idea what to expect. We prepared a set of music, and a message to deliever, and prayed for God to work in us, and then we got to observe God at work as we prayed, sang, read, taught, listened to people's stories, and baptized our fellow brothers and sisters in Chirst.