March 24, 2016
Last night TNL was pretty special. As we do each year, we planned to share the gospel of the resurrection with everyone, and to invite them to prayer and a celebration of the Lord's Supper. Micah was going to do the preaching, and a few of us were ready for the Communion and prayer part.
The evening was beautiful. Perfect, warm weather. Around 70 degrees maybe, with a gentle breeze and beautiful sunset. Danielle kicked us off by leading a Bible study on the calling of Noah to build the ark. It was a great study, with good attendance and participation. We talked about the goodness of God in providing for all of the details and giving specific instructions to Noah. We also contemplated the faithful and persistent obedience of this man of faith, as he labored on the ark for 120 years. It was a treat having some friends from the Kansas City Vision Course present with us -- Dayne, Emily, and Kaitlyn. It was also great having Meka there for the second week in a row.
The food was late in coming. So, after the Bible Study when we normally eat, we had to wait another half hour or so while the burgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill. There was a big crowd -- a hundred people or more. Often in the past, when we've had a lot of people and a long wait, there has been tension, arguing, fighting, etc. However, everything was peaceful this time, and people seemed to be enjoying each other as they patiently waited. I was amazed and grateful. I had sent out some requests for prayer earlier in the day, and I believe the Father responded to the petitions of His people.
When the food was finally ready, it was around 7:00. Micah was not there, because a job he was working on went long. I gathered everyone together in a circle (ish), and asked for their attention for a few minutes. A few people were still talking as I began, but within a few moments all were silent. I briefly and directly proclaimed the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus, emphasizing God's great love for each of us. As I looked around the circle, I was so amazed to see people giving me their rapt attention. I don't think I've every experienced anything like this since the beginning of Thursday night dinners. Nobody was talking. Nobody interrupted. Everyone seemed to be looking at me and focused on what I was saying. I saw nods of affirmation and -- surprisingly -- what appeared to be genuine interest. Certainly I felt an atmosphere of respect.
I believe God was present in that circle. It was brief -- probably the whole thing lasting less than five minutes. But I was touched as I looked at the faces all around. As I concluded, I invited folks to come to the alcove for prayer, or to celebrate the Lord's Supper with us. I don't know how many came, but some did.
Andy was there, and I hadn't seen him for months. As people were initially gathering, I saw him, and we embraced in a prolonged hug. Afterwards, he walked into the alcove and sat down. I sat with him, listened, assured him of our love and happiness to see him, and prayed for him. A gift.
Eventually, I grabbed a couple of hot dogs and some chips and sat down with Monty and Mike -- two grizzled old dudes who have known each other for 25 years. I like them. Peter and Nathan, Philip and Hannah, and Jill were all there. It was so great to look around at different tables, and see them in conversation with folks. What a blessing!
I don't know if the message of the gospel truly penetrated anyone's heart last night. I don't know if anyone believed and repented, and entered into new life. But I do trust that something significant happened, at least in some. And I pray that the Lord cause the seed of the gospel to bear good fruit in the lives of many.
It was a surprisingly emotional evening for me, and when I reached home I was exhausted. I am so grateful. Thank you, Father, for allowing me to participate in your work.
To the glory of Jesus.
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