Outreach events are great tools to increase exposure to the gospel in specific communities. But, it is the ongoing relationships in those contexts that generates discipleship through specific relational communities. I am not necessarily speaking of specific congregations. I am speaking of networks of people who relate to each other in community over a long period of time. This is the case with the group of families I have been working with in the apartment community. The relationships I have been developing with them are at a stage of infancy, with trust beginning to be nurtured. But it is present and growing as a seminal influence within the larger community.
There are many barriers to overcome: culture, multiple languages, personality differences, misunderstandings, and so on. About eleven children, a fraction of the children in the community, have been participating in our mid-week kids club. About five participated in basketball, which we concluded last night. Now we are taking a break from mid-week campus ministry until January. I was not satisfied to lose contact with the families until that time, so a colleague and I will be going to their community three weeks in a row in December to make contacts, bring goodies, and even go caroling with them in their complex on December 17. We want them to know that we care about them; that it isn’t simply about them coming to our campus for our programming.
I am praying that much headway will be made in the coming weeks in overcoming any real or perceived barriers. This is frontlines relational work that requires strong intercessory prayer. It isn’t all simply about culture and language. There definitely are spiritual forces at work. Charm and creativity are not enough to win some of these very difficult spiritual battles.
On an exciting note, two of my roughest boys confirmed that several weeks ago they accepted Jesus as their savior. One is a third grader, the other a seventh grader.