One of the things that faith in Jesus does, is it makes you aware of how needy you are. The Gospel assaults any sense of being a self-made-man and shows you that you are dependent at all times. In salvation, you have to turn away from self-reliance and cast yourselves wholly upon the grace and mercy of God. But that kind of dependence extends to all of life. The breath you just breathed – that came from God. Everything is a good gift from the hands of a good God. In every way, He is the Giver and you are the recipient.
Recently, that reality has been quite tangible for us. 7 Mile Road has been on the receiving end of a bunch of good gifts lately. People have been generous, really generous. It’s actually quite humbling to think of how much we have received from the hands of God through the generosity of His people.
SPACE: St. Marks, a local church has given us permission to use part of their Education Building for our Sunday Gatherings. And so, last week, we moved out of meeting in living rooms and basements to a large classroom at their site. They’ve also given us permission to use a smaller classroom across the hall as a nursery for our kids. On top of the fact that they are letting us use their space for dirt cheap, they’re letting us offset some of the costs by painting and working on the building – something we wanted to do anyway! To get how crazy this is, just think about this. When Shainu and I were making plans to move to Philadelphia, we picked our location based on some demographic studies we had done and happened to find an apartment that we loved in the target area. Little did we know that 2 miles from our home, would be a CCCC church (the denomination that 7MR is a part of), that was entering into a position where they could lend their space. There are two CCCC churches in all of Philadelphia, like an hour apart from each other, and we happen to move into the backyard of one of them! And then to top it off, there is an Indian Catholic Church across the street, and numerous second generation Indians within blocks from the site.
WEB: Angel Silva, a friend and planter of Missio Dei Church, has a web design company called Lynchpin Design. The business is both a ministry and a way to support his family. He is creating 7 Mile Road Philadelphia a brand new website for free. Free! This thing should cost multiple thousands of dollars and it is being given as a gift. By the way, I’ve seen some of the original design and it looks sweet!
SIGNS: St. Marks is going to let us put a permanent sign at their front entrance. How cool is that? Well, one of our teammates knows a guy (he’s got “a guy” for everything) who does design and will create some signs for us, for free. So pretty soon, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, people who drive by will be able to see a sign for 7 Mile Road Church.
BIBLES: For months, we’ve had a couple eagerly tell us that they wanted to buy some Bibles for the church. We told them to hold off till we had somewhere to put them and people to give them to. Well this week, we got 2 cases of black, hardcover, ESV Bibles in the mail.
MORE? A local guy called one of our teammates and told him about a church plant in the area that was shutting down (scary and sad, I know). He asked if there were any new churches getting started in Philly that could use some free stuff. Are you kidding? And so tonight, my buddy and I are going to go and see if there’s anything we can use.
And all this in the middle of a recession? When people should be holding onto their wallets and their stuff with tight fists, how can there be such open hands? Here’s what I think. The word “God” is never mentioned in the book of Esther. But the thing is that as you read the story, you can’t help but see that His invisible hand is at work behind everything. People have been super generous to us. And yet behind them, some of this stuff seems like it has been engineered by a generous God. In fact, all of it has. I know that ultimately it’s not a website, or signs that build a church. You can have the greatest space, all the money in the world, and still have a church plant die. And I’ll be honest – the worrier in me fears that we’re going to get all these gifts and still not pull this off. But by faith, I believe that God is doing something in Philadelphia, and doing something with us. By faith, I believe that these are good gifts from the hand of a good God – not to mock us, but to bless us.