This week, my wife came home from helping a family that our Bible study class has adopted this past year. While she was helping, a biker came up to her and asked her how she knew Debbie. My wife said that she had become friends with her through our class. The biker said, "So you belong to the Sunday School class that has been helping Debbie this year? Just so you know, your class is more than just friends with Debbie."
Now our class has done a lot of work and ministry with Debbie. We adopted her family as our class mission project last spring. One Saturday, our entire class spent a full day at Debbie's house. We skirted her trailer, fixed her front deck and replaced the steps, and hung two new doors to replace the doors that wouldn't even latch. One door frame was in such bad shape that two of our guys rebuilt the frame just so we could hang the new door. In addition, we fixed her leaky roof and caulked windows. Our ladies went inside, and to help Debbie organize, they went to Lowe's and bought her some cabinets. We brought food and stocked her pantry. Needless to say, it was a full days work.
Since that workday, our class has had continued ministry with Debbie and her daughter. We have repaired her car; not once, not twice, but three times now. One of our class members helped her get to Texas so that she could attend her brother's funeral. Another of our ladies went shopping just before school started in August, and bought Debbie's daughter 5 sets of clothes for her to wear to school. Debbie calls us frequently, often just to talk.
Debbie has come to our church several times. I have to admit that I'm more than hopeful that she will make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ soon. But I've learned something too. Although Debbie may not have a lot of education, she is no fool. Other groups have helped before, only to walk away after helping and patting themselves on the back; and never to be seen by Debbie or her family again. She has a reason to be leery of help from Christians. Apparently, previous experiences have been more about the believers feeling good about themselves than actually pouring themselves into Debbie's life. To our classes' credit, we have stayed in there. We have seen the dark side of humanity, and to be honest it has often been inconvenient to help out when we become aware of a need. The dirt that we have gotten on our hands has not always been the kind that you can wash off with a bar of soap or cleanse with some Purell. It is the kind of dirt that sometimes makes you sick to your stomach.
But… we are growing as a group and as individuals. Requests for help are becoming opportunities to serve and lead this family to Christ, not interruptions with other things we have going. This experience has moved from a "mission project" to a "mission field". The ministry we are providing has apparently even gotten the attention of a group of bikers. Who knows… our next experience may be with a group of hardcore Harley riders!
I think we sometimes fail to realize that living as a missionary means moving beyond the safe walls of our classrooms. It means putting the biblical principles we learn in our Bible study groups into practice where we live our every day lives. And it also means that we punch through the sometimes superficial cocoons we live in and discover what it means to be a missionary in our community. I'm proud of my wife's commitment to help Debbie in her journey to Christ.