HEY!!!! Just so that you know that I am not just a guy that gives advice about growth and stretching to you guys. There is a small Baptist church in my neighborhood. It is not my home church. I made friends with the pastor and he has a vision for our neighborhood. I wanted to connect with him as well, because I wanted a place where we could start a local "Exodus Style" Ministry for men in Orlando. I reached out to Pastor Grant and he suggested I show up to a men's breakfast and share my story and our house ministry with some of the men in the church. Now, after I changed my shorts and stopped freaking out, I said Yes. This is a small church in an older neighborhood. I envisioned all the men of the church being old, set in their ways and ready to ask questions like, "SO you used ta be Queer son?"
I wasn't trying to judge them, but I was a little scared. I showed up to the breakfast and 80% of the men were older. One of the guys was a huge man of a man. He looked familiar to me, but I was not about to ask where I knew him from. LOL. Pastor Grant then introduced me, praised me and said the words that sparked fear in my heart for a moment: "Matthew, share your story with us..." "GULP!" I knew God had led me there so I stepped out and shared my story and the story of Big Fish. The Big Guy who was sitting across from me never looked up and he never made eye contact. That unnerved me, but I wasn't there for him. I was there to share my story. One of the older and more intimidating guys to me heard my entire story and began to speak. He asked me if we needed an entire church for the guys in the house? If we needed a church service for them? I was meeting with them to ask for the use of one room and this guy was offering me a whole service. WHAT? Wow. The guy next to him began to ask how the church could help. He put us on the prayer list immediately. I shared my story and they asked great questions. Keep in mind I had only met with the pastor until this point. It was my first time meeting the other guys. I was scared, but I trusted God more. God led the leader of the youth group to volunteer his whole youth group to come and help with the landscaping. WHAT? The pastor asked in front of the men, what the church could do to help us out. WHAT?
After this meeting I decided to join the men's group at this local church for a bible study. Keep in mind, it is an old school Baptist church. Not too progressive. More traditional. I am not knocking them, but once again I was not sure how the men would receive me. I attended the bible study. It was so good. I was fearful. Was the pastor just humoring me? Was he going to get me into the church and then not want to talk about my testimony? Nope. Halfway through the bible study, Pastor Grant looks over and says Matthew has a great testimony of what the Lord has done in his life. My "GULP" could be heard for miles. Thank goodness he didn't ask me to share right then, but the awesome God thing is that he is not afraid of my story.
That is my story this week guys of putting myself out there into community and believing that God will protect me. If we open up ourselves and trust God, then He opens up the church to receive our wounded and struggling. What is God challenging you to do this week? What is He telling you to trust Him with? What perceived Hell is He asking you to walk through? And will you be obedient to the call? I am not just a guy who sits behind a computer screen and encourages you to grow. I am a guy who turns off my laptop and runs out on the battlefield with you. Let's fight this fight together brothers. Trusting our God to lead us to places of growth and fields of treasure. Every great thing is worth fighting for. "Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." --Psalm 55:22