We had a great day in Arkansas today. For starters, the temperature was about 40 F which is about 20 better than at home and we had sunshine while they got about a foot of snow back home. Don’t let it pile up at the end of the driveway honey! 🙂
First I gotta tell you about the rental car. They ask me, “For $5 would you like to upgrade to a midsize car?” I say, “What do you have that is midsize?” They say, “PT Cruiser” I say, “Sign me up!” PT Cruisers are fun and can’t be that much different on gas than the Hyundai Accent that I was going to get.
When I pick up Jim he says, “Awwww! You got a chick car!” Jim is not secure enough in his manhood to make this car work I guess. I think it’s fine but I guess when you drive the junk that I have been driving the past few years you don’t notice things like girly colours. Tomorrow Jim wants me to park a block away from the school so his Harding buddies don’t see us coming out of a ‘chick car’. Good grief!
Anyway, we were invited as guests to a Community Focus Luncheon put on by a former minister of PV. His name is Jeff Spry and he is a remarkable visionary. After working at Pleasant Valley for a few years he announced this past month that he was moving out of congregational ministry and was beginning a non-profit organization called City Connections and now works as a “missionary to the city”. He coordinates all the cities charities and non profit organizations and provides them with a monthly opportunity to network and make connections. It was cool to be there.
This particular month a guy named Jason Palermo spoke about Capitol Ministries, which is an organization that seeks to disciple members of government. They do Bible studies and organize churches to help pray for their leaders. In Jason’s words, “The Pastor holds the highest office in the land for as the pastor goes, the congregation goes, and as the congregation goes, the nation goes.” It was a very impressive speech. He is seeking to get each congregation in Little Rock to pray for their state legislators.
He looked at 1 Timothy 2: 1 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” and he pointed out that the word for first here (“protos” in the Greek) doesn’t mean first in the sense of first, second, third, … like an order to do them in but instead, first and formost. What Paul is saying here is that the most important ministry of the church is prayer. We need to pray before we do anything else. I have never prayed for my leaders like that, and I need to start. We need to pray for our leaders. Who else has the opportunity to have the greatest change over our nation? If I think prayer is so effective why do I do so little of it? Jason says they work in counselling Senators and staff in Washington as well as Little Rock in how to have more Godly marriages. Jason says, “If you help a legislator be a better husband or wife, they are able to do their job better. When a Senator’s marriage blows up, their career is over and there is a huge spiritual and physical cost. It was very convicting.
After lunch I happened to chat with elders and deacons of PV and was so impressed by the vision of this congregation. They are partially funding a minister to coordinate ministry initiatives with other churches in Little Rock. Rather than funding a soup kitchen (and PV could do it up big) they are working alongside other Christian who are already doing that. I met Carla Thomasson, Event Coordinator for Give a Kid a Chance which does Charitable work with inner city kids in Little Rock. Among a host of other things Carla collects and distributes 1 800 back packs to kids in needs. Her vision is for every church in Little Rock to adopt a school. Her reasoning is this, who better than a school counsellor to tell you which kids are really at risk.
If you want to make a difference in the city, go to a school that is troubled and ask the school counsellor of that school, “What do you need?” then go out and get what they need. Poverty, illiteracy, hunger are all problems that are huge and no one church could ever take them down, but as Carla says, “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.”
Then we met with the PV Elders, chatted about how meaningful the mission team is to our work at Tintern and then sat in on the Wednesday night Teen program. We met lots of friends from the past few years (including Ryan Smith and Wyatt) and then got to spend time worshipping God with 140 teens from Grades 7 – 12. What a night!