(Until the addition is complete, we will continue to meet at our building on 5th Ave. across from the Safford Post Office)
Has the Lord called the Church to a dress rehearsal? The word “rehearsal” means, “the act of practicing in preparation for a performance.” Recently a story about a pastor dressing like a homeless man went viral over Facebook, with hundreds of thousands of likes and shares. The pastor’s name was Jeremiah Steepek and he had been hired as the new pastor of a 10,000 member church in Chicago. On the day he was to be introduced, the story goes, he dressed as a homeless man and stationed himself outside of the church. Only three people of the thousands who passed him, entering the church building, said hello to him. As he asked for change to buy food, not one person gave him anything. He went into the sanctuary and sat in the front pew, but was asked by the ushers to go to the back. No one spoke to him. When the elders got up to introduce the new pastor, the homeless man in the back walked to the platform. The story continues that the “homeless” pastor rebuked the church for not being true disciples of Jesus and dismissed the service.
When I first read this story several months ago, I was touched. About three months ago, I became very involved in homeless ministry. I devote a couple of hours every day to this ministry. I have become very good friends with all of the homeless of the Gila Valley. A few weeks ago, I learned that this story of the “homeless” pastor was a hoax. I did not happen. Neither the man nor the church even exists. I’m not sure what the motive was for creating such a story; perhaps it was to be motivational or maybe it was just a joke. Either way, I’ve come to see things differently based on my own experience. During lunch today, a friend told me that someone he works with was growing a beard in order to help a friend who was a pastor to stage something similar to the Steepak story. My first reaction was, instead of taking several months to plan this elaborate scheme, why not take the same time to get to know the homeless people who are all around you – befriend them, love them, welcome them into your church, give them Jesus.
Do we actually need people to dress up like drug addicts and homeless people? Isn’t that just “playing church?” Are there not needs all around us? People who are suffering and broken? Is this just a game, a dress rehearsal? At The River, no one needs to dress up like a homeless person; we usually have several who worship with us on Sundays. Jesus said that when you have done it unto the least of them, that you have done it unto Him. It is time to reintroduce ourselves to the Jesus of the Gospels. He was the friend of sinners. The Church is not a social club but a hospital for sinners and broken people. Let’s be the Church. No dress rehearsals needed.
Friends of The River
Join us for our Upcoming Series: Making War in the Heavenlies, beginning in September.
A mother with a 16-year-old boy, who seemed out of control… destructive to himself and others. She was at wit’s end with no hope in sight. A daughter with an 87-year-old mother who seemed too far gone to reach. So much water under the bridge and a very hard upbringing under the mother’s watch. Two stories that are very different, but also very similar in many ways. Whether you are 16 or 87, there is no hope without Christ! Everyone needs compassion. Everyone needs forgiveness. The kindness of a Savior. Today, at The River, both the 16-year-old boy and the 87-year-old mother surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit was strong in manifestation today. We rejoice with the angels in heaven for both Kyle and Irene. Thank You Jesus for saving them today. We know that You will be faithful in keeping them.
Click on pics to enlarge.