Just kidding; sort of. When God first whispered to my heart as I drove passed a club, “You’re going in there.” I silently replied, “Um, I don’t think so.”
Reflecting back on our brief conversation, the prayers began for what would become As you are Outreach in that fleeting, but powerful moment. Without this initial dialogue, the doors to every single club we visited during our first outreach in December 2010, would not have opened. Nor, would this ministry currently exist.
Often, we wrongly believe our prayers need to be long winded, rhythmic, graceful streams of eloquent words and quoting Scripture. Certainly, God loves to hear His Word repeated back to Him, but heaven would be awfully quiet if He put this kind of condition on how we communicate with Him. Jesus Himself spoke forcefully against showy prayer in Matthew 6:5-7, and in verse 8 reassures us with, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Now I don’t mean to go all holier than thou superhero spiritual on you here, but it is God, in response to the heartfelt prayers of His people, who opens the spiritual doors that lead to physical doors being open, not us. Regrettably, in much the same way He schooled Joshua, God had to teach me a tough lesson about the need to remain in prayer and connected to Him during outreaches.
In Joshua chapter 9 verse 3, “… when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse.”. In other words, they juked Joshua and the Israelites by cozying up to them and feeding them a story about being from a distant country, in need, and wanting to know their God. Verse 14 reveals how the Israelites fell for it hook, line, and sinker, “The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.” [Emphasis mine].
As their leader, Joshua failed the people when perhaps he became a bit too relaxed in his role and environment. Similarly, my Joshua moment occurred after a few victories and persistent invitations from one of the managers at the largest club we visit, to stay for a drink or something to eat. So, it seemed natural one night to accept – the problem, as viewed from 20/20 rose colored hindsight glasses, the invitation did not come from the Lord. And I, like Joshua, in my excitement to forge ahead, gain acceptance, and be all that, presumed to know the will of God without consulting with the will of God. This failure to remain connected to the Source of our success resulted in us being barred from that club.
We serve an orderly, consistent God whose Word never becomes obsolete, and in keeping with His character, He continues to use the biblical story of Joshua to teach us, errr me, total dependence upon Him. In much the same way God told Joshua and the Israelites to circle Jericho, for more than a year on outreach nights, we have been silently approaching this club and figuratively marching around and enveloping it in prayer.
In spite of his past misstep, God told Joshua in chapter 6, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” And guess what – because Joshua and the Israelites obeyed and waited for the Lord to act, God did exactly as He promised. We believe God will do the same as we continue to humbly and diligently devote the future of this club to Him.
The best gifts, the best team, the best time, the best day might all make a difference when it comes to getting into the clubs, but the true secret to successful outreach is and always will be, prayer.
Featured Blog is from Strip Church Network Member: Jennie Nagy of As You Are Outreach in Sacramento, CA.