I recently helped begin a small group at our church for the parents of kids in our after-school program. They are mostly single parents struggling to survive. They are from all over the world. At the first meeting, we had over 6 countries represented. I quickly realized that we are going to need a paradigm shift to handle this new reality. Only disciples of Jesus can enter into the brokenness and pain of people and show them a way out as we build a life together with them. It’s going to take some type of hybrid model between mega-church small groups and the most radical of newly thriving intentional Christian communities.
Below is a letter I wrote to the small group to illustrate some of what I’m talking about:
We missed everyone who could not come to last night’s
meeting at McDonald’s. After the usual chaos of trying to get the kids fed we
had some very real conversations about the pains, sorrows and joys happening in
our lives right now. Some of us shared very trying things that are going on in
our families, with our health, and on our jobs.
This is what small groups are for, building trust and
learning to live our lives together. As we connect with each other through
sharing our stories, we learn that we have so much in common. We realize pretty
quickly that we all have problems and we all have tough issues that confront us
everyday. We feel tired, we want to give up, we worry about our kids and how we
are going to make ends meet. We talk about our dreams and desires and how we
want our children to live better lives.
During our discussion last night, I was able to share a part of my story that
I’d just soon forget. If it were not for
God’s love and his ability to bring beauty from ashes, I would never talk about
this part of my life. I shared that as I was going through the pain of
separation, divorce and the initial terror of becoming a single parent some 16
years ago, God gave me two things to hold on to. He told me to stay in His Word
and to stay around His people. One passage of scripture that really carried me
through that time was Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not
on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make
your paths straight.”
It was during that difficult time of life that God taught
me many things. He taught me how to walk by faith, connect with His people, and
enter into The story of His deep love for us all and His desire to restore the
relationships that we were created for. He humbled me and taught me to care for
people on the edges of mainstream society struggling to survive, and he taught
me that they would care for me. Ultimately, He taught me that He would care for
us all, if we would let Him.
Watch this short movie on the changing face of Poverty for a better perspective of what many people are facing today.