I wish I had time to fully express all that God has been doing in our lives while we were here in Michigan, but since it’s packing/cleaning/moving week, time is short. For both Payton and I, we were able to watch God develop our ministry skills. We’ve had plenty of time in training in regard to church planting, but not much of an arena to see these fresh, biblical principles put into action. We’ve been able to see things like:
Discipleship: I (Grace) got to work with my good friend, Alicia doing a study together. I was able to practice my listening skills (hard for me to do), learn to ask good questions (no leading questions or dead-ends!), try to communicate abstract concepts with concrete examples, and especially sharing life stories, which takes courage and trust. Alicia was so patient with me as I learned to guide the study! Plus, we became better friends as we watched God grow us.
Small groups: Payton was able to co-lead Sunday School here and there, learning to deal with group dynamics and how to facilitate learning. I led one of the ladies groups through a book on Sunday mornings, which was also a learning curve for me. I am still a slow learner when it comes to asking good questions. I usually have an agenda and try to force conclusions (just being honest here!). I learned that allowing people to come to their own proper conclusions takes more time and waiting, but is far better than if you just tell them. My ladies were patient with me!!! I learned so much from their comments and good thoughts. What a joy to learn from sisters and brothers in Christ!
Pre-evangelsim: I didn’t put the term “pre-evangelism” in there just to confuse you. We talked a lot about this at school, and it seemed to come up quite a bit here, specifically in Payton’s time with the guys. It has a lot to do with the way you interact with people before and during the time where you’re getting to know them, specifically before you get to speak truth into their lives. It’s treating people with respect, getting to know them, earning the right to speak, looking for bits and pieces of their worldview, etc. Of course, sometimes, you just lay down truth and it is what it is, but we need to be clear communicators and that takes knowing your audience.
What’s really cool is that there’s a whole slew of guys from the neighborhood that have started showing up at church–the next generation. Having been at WCC for a while, this is awesome to see the church being more a part of its neighborhood. Other men in the church have taken the opportunity to play basketball with the guys, whether it’s during normal church hours or on Saturdays. Before they play basketball, Payton’s been able to teach them almost every weekend since we arrived. It’s just a really neat chance to bring God into their world. I’m convinced that this is a rare opportunity for the next generation to be challenged with the truth!
Evangelism: I (Grace) got a chance to clarify and share the gospel with the Wednesday night kids! Mom gave up her slot so Payton and I could share about missions, but she really wanted the kids to know about the message that we’re going to take overseas. I used all the things we learned at school, storytelling, themes, and pictures, to explain how we all got into this wretched mess of sin and why we need someone to rescue us. I can’t even tell you how much I loved sharing with the kids, especially using OT stories to make more sense of why Jesus had to come.
The past few weeks, my mom had just finished addressing the fact that we didn’t come from monkeys (the kids were wondering about it) and how all people are made in God’s image and valuable even if they look different to us (hence the poster with the random pictures).
Payton and I also brought out the Sad List so they could see how many people had never heard about this message! I think sharing with kids is the neatest thing–so cool to watch them soak up God’s truth and God’s heart for people.
Study & Teaching: Payton was required (as a part of his WCC “internship” :D) to preach. Hence, he had to study. He spent plenty of his time holed away in the back room studying and working at putting his thoughts together. I also had to learn to prepare for my Sunday School and my other Bible Study–lots of learning for both of us, but especially Payton! This was very reflective of our time in Teaching Considerations class where we had to prepare lessons for teaching in a tribal context. We also sat in on the Wednesday night adult class where we got to watch people being taught to study the scriptures for themselves.
There’s a lot more that went on, but in the end we can both say that it was never really about Payton or myself, all of the learning came in a context of our brothers and sisters at WCC. It was “us” as whole body with many parts! Paul mentions this: “…that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Rom.1:12)
We love you WCC! Thank you for building up our faith and standing alongside us on this journey!