I got to preach this week! No, not behind the pulpit, nor in any church building. There was no special service planned or followed. And while I truly miss bringing the Word every Sunday morning to a select group of close-knit friends, the Lord keeps showing me that there are countless ways to “minister” outside the traditional three-point sermon outlines (which I rarely used anyway), and definitely outside of the brick and mortar church building walls.
I was recently called on to speak with two different women, one of whom I’d never met. The first lady had been unable to reach her own pastor at that particular moment, and the second was facing some serious decisions regarding health issues. I offered scriptures and words of encouragement, feeling confident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words flowing from my lips, and not my own. My prayers were powerful and passionate, as I’ve been faced with similar issues myself.
Finally I was bed-side talking with a precious 91 year old who was worried about not waking up from her nap, and hoping she had been “good enough” in case she didn’t. As the scriptures flowed from my tongue, I reminded her who she is in Christ, and rebuked those spirits of fear rendering them powerless over her. I went through God’s merciful plan of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, and I suppose I tend to get a little excited when I talk about Jesus! I felt myself beaming as I reminded her that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Jesus has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He would be right there watching over her as she slept. I assured her that she WOULD indeed wake up from her nap in one of two places: either safely in her own bed, or in the arms of Jesus; and either way she was going to be okay! I quoted Paul, David, and even the Messiah Himself. She looked up at me with a fresh gleam in her eye and exclaimed, “I like your church!”
At that moment, God reminded me that we can “have church” anywhere. Wherever just two or more are gathered in His Name, He is there with us. (Matthew 18:20) In fact, we ARE the church, no matter where we go. God does not dwell in buildings, but His Spirit lives within us! (Acts 7:48, 17:24) I remembered that Hope Chapel, the precious church I pastored for three years, was actually birthed around a campfire in the town park. We often met under picnic shelters, in the local coffee shop, and in members’ homes. People were saved and baptized as a result of those small-group settings.
The Lord has called me to preach the Good News of His Gospel, which is forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him in glory! We are saved only by our faith in Jesus Christ, as His blood on the cross already paid the price. Whether I deliver that marvelous message of HOPE in Christ by pastoring another church one day, as a traveling Evangelist, preaching online or simply speaking with others one-on-one, I will share His love and light for the rest of my days. God can and NEEDS to use us, everywhere we go!