Patience and a glimpse of hope

I recently asked this question of a classmate of mine who is a pastor in the Greater Vancouver area:

-As you lead people towards authentically living out their faith, how do you have patience that God is using you to make a difference, especially in the context of our comfortable North American Christianity?

Here was his response:

“That's a great question, David. I am not a patient person. I want change now. And to tell you the truth, almost every day for the last year has been very painful. I saw that we had so far to go. There has barely been a day that has gone by (except for the last couple months) where I didn't ask God to take me out of this church. It has only been by God's grace that I've stuck it out. Every time I was feeling discouraged I would tell God that I needed to know that this is where He wanted me, and without fail, He would send someone my way to tell me that God is doing something subversive. There is something bigger happening than what I can see. And so I would hang on a little longer. I have no idea if this church is even going to survive, but I see God changing hearts. One 71 year old lady who has been a Christian since she was six years old gave a testimony in church that for the first time in her life she is obeying God's call on her life. Last week I had lunch with her and she said, "Jeff, I've changed." She didn't go into details about what that meant, but everyone in the church has seen it. She used to be someone that everyone was afraid of. She never smiled. She was often critical of the leadership in the church. Now, she exudes the love of Christ. She led a couple ladies from her neighbourhood to Christ a couple months ago. She and others like her are the only reason that I can keep going. She said that a gay friend of hers asked if she would be welcomed at our church and she replied, ‘Our pastor has preached from the pulpit every Sunday that God has called us to love God and love people, so I would assume that would include you.’

I have to tell myself over and over again that it's not about me. God is doing something, and it's bigger than me and so I just hang in there. Anyway, I'm not sure if that answers your question.”

I am glad there are some solid pastors around who are faithfully sticking it out and seeing small (or large!?!) glimpses of transformation. Sharing these stories is incredibly valuable in realizing that God is in fact working in our local churches. I know I’m encouraged!


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