This past year a friend of the ministry donated 1000 multicolored evangelistic soccer balls. One of our teams found a creative way to use the soccer balls.
We asked five of our Christian students if they would like to go give out soccer balls to some migrant worker families that live near campus. We also invited six non Christian students we met at another campus to go with us just to expose them to a mercy project and hopefully open their hearts to the ideas of mercy, kindness and grace.
Our team of seven, with five Christian students and six non Christian students met up to walk to the migrant housing area. When we arrived it was rainy and very, very muddy. We had to walk through lots of mud which was humbling and caused us all to have even more pity on these people who lived outside in tents and in mud every day. Even as the Christian and non Christian students took their first steps into the area they were shocked at the conditions and many of them said they couldn’t believe people lived this way.
We split up and tried to pair a Christian student from one school with a non-Christian from an- other. As the believing students went out with the non Christian students they demonstrated love and compassion to the migrant families and loved them.
They went up to random people living in tents and asked them if they had any kids that we could give a soccer ball to. That was a good method because when the people saw that we wanted to “bless” their kids they were very receptive to us. We stayed and talked with many people. We found a few Christians and mostly non Christians and were able to give away the soccer balls to the kids.
The non Christian students were amazed at the love that was expressed by us and our students. As the morning went on we saw our Christian students begin to naturally share the gospel and God’s love with the non Christian students as they explained why they wanted to love and care for these people. Those two hours on a Saturday morning were more memorable and impacting for our students than months of Bible Studies and prayer meetings.
source: CCC staff prayer letter
The Back Story
The Passion movement recently released the album, God of This City. The title was taken from a song, sung on the album by Chris Tomlin, but originally written and released by the Irish band, Blue Tree. I love the whole song, but my favorite lines come from the chorus:
Greater things have yet to come
Great things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things are still to come
And greater things are still to be done here.
I love this lines because the capture the “fighting edge” of Christianity–a Christianity that, as C.S. Lewis says, believes “a great many things have gone wrong with this world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.” The lines drive us to be a people who incarnate Jesus, declaring and bringing the rule and reign of Christ to every place, including the darkest of places — a truth illustrated in the back story of this song.When asked about the song, lead vox Aaron Boyd recalls:
“There’s a couple from Carrickfergus, Ian and Leslie, and they moved out to Thailand to a place called Pattaya. We got asked to go and be part of an event called Pattaya Praise. Pattaya is a seaside town/resort place, and physically, it looks to be like the darkest place you’ll ever go to. And spiritually, it is THE darkest place we have ever been to. You just feel the evil. You just feel the enemy all over that place. It’s a very small place. . . But in that small area in Thailand, there are 30,000 prostitutes and that figure excludes kids and excludes anything that’s outside of the range of, say 18-30, and who are female. . .
Part of what we were asked to do was to go out and be part of an event which runs for four or five days. It had things like 24/7 worship and prayer and social action going on helping the people who clean the streets every morning. We played in a school and ministered in an orphanage and tried to get a heart for that city. As a band we were getting cold feet because we had four days in Bangkok to start, and in those four days it was great. We’d be quite hyperactive, and it was flat-out, four days; not an hour was lost to sleep in those four days. On the Sunday we managed to play in one church and it was brilliant, but we wanted more. And then when we got to Pattaya . . . we said, ‘If you can get us anywhere else to play, anywhere, we want to play. We just want to do what we do in the middle of somewhere and just go head-on into it.”
“There was a bar called The Climax Bar – on a street that’s about 10 metres wide, it’s a kilometre long and it’s filled with everything you can physically imagine. And I promise you, as a red-blooded male, to keep your head in the right place you’ve got to look down at the ground and walk down that street and pray because it is just so in your face. People hit you with menus about everything, flashing lights, just everything you can imagine goes on in that place. You see kids as young as eight, nine, 10, just selling themselves, you know?! You see 60-year-old guys walking down the street with two 13 or 14-year-old girls. Forget about the Christian thing, you just get raging! You properly get raging when you see that happening, you know?!”
. . . We got the chance to play in this bar, a two-hour worship set in this bar. I don’t think the people in the bar spoke a word of English but we basically got to go in. The deal was that we play and we bring a following of people with us; so we’re there, set up, really good gear! So we all set up and there was like 20 Christians all standing in front of us, and the deal was we play, they buy lots of drinks, alright? I don’t think the place has ever sold so much Coke in its whole life in one night!
And we got to play for two hours. And just the way the band set up, we like using loops, and at one point I just started singing out. I started singing “Greater Things”, something along those lines, almost prophesying over the city. And without going into the band dynamics, slowly this groove emerged from this thing. And long story short; we walked out of that Climax Bar with pretty much a nailed song, as strange as that sounds. Then we were on the way home.
We were all. . .it was that tumbleweed silence, you know? It was like, ‘What actually just happened in that time?!’ It was one of the most powerful worship experiences we’ve ever had. I actually remember looking out, and you’re looking down a wee alleyway, into the street, and it was just 50 or 60 probably British tourists and they’re just sitting there listening going, ‘What is this all about?’ Coming from The Climax Bar which is pretty much a strip club. Just, here we are singing about Jesus in the middle of this. . . It was one of the most random experiences but it was a God thing, God was there.”
And where does name Bluetree come from?
“Bluetree stands for standing out. The whole concept of that is that, if you’re walking through a forest, everything you look around at is pretty much going to be green; green trees, brown branches, brown bark: you know, that kind of thing? But if you saw this tree that was bright blue and everything about it – leaves, branches, bark – was blue, it would stand out and you would stand and look at it and take notice of it. As Christians, Jesus Christ has called us to be salt, be light, in this world and really make a difference.”
Samuel Morse was an American painter of portraits and historic scenes, the creator of a single wire telegraph system, and co-inventor, with Alfred Vail, of the Morse Code. He made the following observation about William Wilberforce.
Mr. Wilberforce is an excellent man; his whole soul is bent on doing well for his fellow man. Not a moment of his time is lost. He is always planning some benevolent scheme or other and not only planning them but executing them; he is made up altogether of affectionate feeling. What I saw of him in private gave me the most exalted opinion of him as a Christian. Oh, that such men as Mr. Wilberforce were more common in this world. So much human blood would not be shed to gratify the malice and revenge of a few wicked, interested men.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; When you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ … if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darness and your gloom be as the noonday.” Isaiah 58:6-10
For the past two months the Lord has been putting a deep desire in my heart to care for the people that are talked about in the above passage. I’ve heard, and read many times that we ought to care for the poor, the widowed, and the fatherless, but it seems that until the past couple months I’ve never realized the need that we are called to fill.
Last Thursday I was reminded of the passage above and needed to do something. I wept for these people, first for their need, then because I realize how little I do for them. So, as little as it seemed at the timed, I went and bought a bag of apples and 5 pairs of gloves. Then went on a walk around the city looking for people to give these small gifts to.
I found a man by the bus station, curled up in a corner wearing an old military coat. I walked up to him and asked him if he was cold. He said, “Of course I am!
I asked him if he had any gloves and he responded, “How can I wear gloves, I don’t have any hands!”
Then I asked him if he had eaten. He replied, “No.” So I asked him if he would like an apple. He said yes but said that I would need to hold the apple for him so he could eat it.
I picked one out of our bag and held my hand out as I watched him take his first bite. As he ate the apple out of my hand I realized that something was missing from what I’m doing here. I walked away with my roommate silent, praying that more people would come and hold the apple for this guy. I wonder where he is right now.
Ben (on staff with Campus Crusade)