“They ask what denomination we are as we come in and visit, getting to know people”, Pastor Mackenzy tells me as I get to know him and his heart for the new community that he is working in.
“I respond to them and say that I do not follow religion, I cannot answer their question. I follow Jesus. We are not here to bring more religion to the community, we are here to bring Jesus to the community.”
Images are conjured in my mind as I listen, like a contrast between old black and white media versus high-definition pictures with colors bursting from all sides. Cutting straight to Jesus is a fresh, cold water that we could get used to in what is compared to as a dry and weary land.
This is what I believe in. This is why I am so excited about ORLA (Oganizasyon Respire Lavi) – the pastors and their movement. I used to know we planted churches and believe in it, but now my heart skips and I sit closer to the edge of my seat, getting closer to listen in.
Because we are talking about a community that is “thirsty for the gospel” (translated exactly by those in the community) –
A community that already has at least three churches.
The problem is not a lack of people gathering, a lack of Sunday services, or a lack of aspiring pastors. The problem is the gospel is missing.
Cash talks and his voice gets higher as he speaks, his body language shows that his heart is in the conversation the more we get on the topic of the gospel. “The gospel, the real gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ!”
I wish that a community with existing churches was not described as thirsty for the gospel.
But I believe in these pastors, hearts bleeding on their sleeves, and their passion – their NEED – to get the real gospel to people who have literally said that they are waiting for it.
These pastors talk about their own questions,
Why aren’t people going to church?
Why do the few that go, spend money they do not have to travel over 15 minutes away (which is far when you’re talking public transportation that makes it almost an hour away and the idea that it is multiple “communities” away)?
People are being shamed. “Sinners” are called out or outcast. It is a hard, never-feel-like-you’ve-arrived-so-keep-breaking-your-back message of salvation. Freedom and rest are not mentioned. And I am SURE that these churches do not set out this way! They do not WANT to be uninviting, they do not WANT to put heavy yokes on people, the do not WANT to not give the gospel justice. But we are human, and it has happened.
And it is for this reason that people are saying to Mackenzy, “fè vit, pastè” – “Please come quickly, pastor. Do not hold back in getting the message you are spreading here.”
I dream of the day where redemption comes to us all, for us to understand the gospel as it was meant. For us to live from freedom, victory, and rest. For us to understand what we keep twisting with our human processing of the world. To see our sweet Jesus as He has already shown us – but that we forget.
This is a step of redemption, and it is why I am so excited about this church planting movement. “Thirsty” for the gospel? Let the living water come in.
What an honor to sit at the table with these pastors, giving their lives in a way I’ll never understand.