One of the hardest things for me to get used to in my first few weeks as a church planter has been living life away from my desk. For my entire career, I needed to be sitting at a particular spot in the office so that people could find me. Starting a new church is precisely the opposite: I need to be out in the world so I can find people!
That may get a bit easier after this week. On Tuesday, as I typed on my computer at the Starbucks in Montgomery Plaza, I struck up a conversation with the man next to me. His name is Zia, and he is a documentary photographer who spends his entire career in locations of atrocity, violence, and human rights violations, sharing the story so the rest of the world can witness the pain that people inflict on one another.
Zia was editing photos from his last trip on his computer, pictures of Syrian refugees suffering in camps in Turkey. Even across an international border, those refugees still faced daily bombardment from Syrian rockets. They were literally in exile, fleeing the pharoah who was chasing his slaves into the desert.
As we talked, Zia shared his first-hand experiences with truly biblical levels of suffering and fear, hope and peace. He regularly visits the places where faith in miracles is the only way people can endure their trials. “How do you transition from that reality to this one?” I asked him. “From the world of those problems to the world of these problems?”
“I never do,” he said. “I just come here, put on my headphones, and try to tune it all out.”
This is an overused phase but it’s true: so often when you go out trying to bless other people, they end up blessing you. Zia refreshed me, renewed my spirit to pray and intercede for those who are suffering, to expand my vision of the kingdom to include all of God’s people.
Had I remained in my office all day I never would have met Zia, never seen the pain in the world reflected in his face. His calling is to share stories that move people to feel and to care, and he did that for me. My calling is to share the life-changing good news of the gospel, and I have renewed energy to continue my work to do exactly that.
Prayers for this week:
Please join us in praying that First 7th be a church that reaches out to those who suffer, encourages those who are hopeless, and comforts those who are weak. We are dedicated to sharing Christ’s love with the world, let us follow his example as we go about his work.