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Our Saviour Lutheran 56 Cleveland Dr. Croton on Hudson, NY 10520 

The Life of a Disciple Part 5

It was an experience which has stuck with me my entire ministry. While still training to be a pastor, I was serving at a suburban location outside of Philadelphia. They had a weekly communion and lunch ministry with the homeless by the train station in Philadelphia. Every week, a group of members would go to the train hub and gather with a group of people to share communion and to give out bagged lunches.

First, as a NYC guy, this was strange to me. In Brooklyn, you were trained to “turn off” the homeless because they were everywhere. When trying to describe this to non NYers, I say imagine you are walking down the street and see a pigeon or a bird. You kind of acknowledge that it is there, but after that initial view, it is gone from your mind. That is how most NYers born and raised, treated the homeless. So, here I was in the midst of a whole group of homeless on their turf, not in a soup kitchen or at a church.

As the weeks went on, I was encouraged to begin talking to everyone. I am not great at small talk, so it was a challenge to get started, but once I got past the initial awkwardness, I started to learn the people’s stories. They were no longer “the homeless,” but Jim who came back from war and couldn’t get his feet firmly planted under him again. There was Mary, who kept and raised rabbits in her area. She often fed them before she fed herself. There was Dan who had a drug habit, but was so grateful for the food we gave and often asked for an extra bag.

There was a transformation from a “them” to real life human beings who had stories and struggles. They weren’t a problem to be dealt with, but people who were trying to get their lives together, but couldn’t get over one or two humps in life. Communion and our little church group was sometimes the sole human interaction where they were called by name and acknowledged as being people.

I share this because when we think of Evangelism, we often think of growing the church or spreading the news about Jesus to those who do not know him. Jesus calls us, as disciples, to go to people, learn story, break bread, and heal those who need healing. In other words, it is more about listening and sharing rather than promoting whatever we have to promote. 

I often tell churches what if we changed our natural signal from “broadcast” to “receive.” How would our mission and our ministry be transformed as church? What would our lives look like?
Pastor Justin Johnson
Our Saviour Croton on Hudson

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Our Saviour Lutheran Church · 56 Cleveland Dr · Croton on Hudson, NY 10520-2751 · USA

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