This last weekend I was speaking at The Gate Church of the High Desert in Victorville, CA. I knew coming here that the recession has affected California badly, so I was expecting to hear many sad tales of how miserable life was and prophecies concerning the end of the world. The people that live here are just ordinary Californians. They do various jobs, or should I say, “did”. Probably 25% of the congregation is currently unemployed. Many have lost their homes, and most, including the pastors, have reduced compensation. They include prison guards, cleaners, housewives, as well as mayors and guys who run their own businesses. All in all, they are pretty ordinary people. Their pastor, Randy Howard, is from Georgia and the whole family is sports crazed. Fortunately, their team is number one in the nation, so it was a good weekend to be visiting!
What impressed me the most is that I didn’t hear any people complain about how bad it was. What I heard was stories of how God was moving among them and using them to reach people in the community. I heard dozens of people comforting those who had recently lost a loved one. I saw joy in people’s faces. I saw an eco-tech guy named Joe lovingly correcting another guy who was struggling to forgive someone who laid him off. I saw a group of women praising the lord about an 8 day break down in the desert in which God provided them 8 days of ministry in a place they never planned. Several people weren’t there because they were serving God in mission trips around the world. Others shared about how they were reaching people through their prison ministries (they were guards!) I caught a ride to the airport with three young men who were going to visit a pastor in the hospital. We had so much fun on the ride to the airport we were sore from laughing. Who knew a recession was on. Who would know that this community of believers was facing dire financial situations. They were just thrilled with the opportunity to show the love of Christ to people they met each day. They were making a difference in the Kingdom of God. They were ordinary people doing amazing things. This is how Jesus intended Christians to behave.